[Beowulf] Torrents for HPC

Greg Keller Greg at Keller.net
Thu Jun 14 16:17:17 PDT 2012

On Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM, Bernd Schubert <bs_lists at aakef.fastmail.fm
> wrote:

> [I'm moving that from your digest answer to the general discussion thread]
Doh, Thanks!

>  On 06/13/2012 06:25 PM, Greg Keller wrote:>
>>> What about an easy to setup cluster file system such as FhGFS? As one of
>>> its developers I'm a bit biased of course, but then I'm also familiar
>>> with Lustre, an I think FhGFS is far more easiy to setup. We also do not
>>> have the problem to run clients and servers on the same node and so of
>>> our customers make heavy use of that and use their compute nodes as
>>> storage servers. That should a provide the same or better throughput as
>>> your torrent system.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Bernd
>> We've been curious about FhGFS but the licensing did not leave us
>> confident we would always have access to it if we integrated it into our
>> business and made available to our users.  Serious success could
>> essentially cause an epic failure if the license made it expensive to us
>> (as commercial users) suddenly.  As a "cloud" based hpc provider I
>> thought it was too risky and have been happy with Lustre and it's
>> affiliates.
>> Specifically this clause could be a problem:
>> 3.2 LICENSEE may NOT:
>> ...
>> - rent or lease the LICENSED SOFTWARE and DOCUMENTATION to any third party
>> ...
>> Does anyone think the license was intended to block cloud providers making
>> it available as part of a cloud based HPC solution?  Am I
>> mis-interpreting this?
>> Not looking for a legal-ese battle but I am wondering if other licenses
>> commonly
>> used in cloud contexts have similar language.  Anyone think the FS is
>> fantastic
> > enough that I should fight (spend money on lawyers and licenses) to put
> it in
> > front of "Cloud" HPC users?
> Arg, such issues are exactly the reason why I don't like contracts and
> laws written by lawyers. Instead of writing with 'normal' words
> understandable by everyone, they have their own language, which nobody can
> understand is entirely unclear. I'm not sure if they do understand
> themselves what they have written... Given the high number of useless
> lawsuits probably not.
> This clause is about charging for the licensed software (i.e. fhgfs), not
> about services around fhgfs. Neither this clause nor any other clause in
> the EULA is intended or prohibits that you provide fhgfs to cloud users.
That's good to hear.  The license has evolved and simplified a lot since I
first read it long ago.

> So this particular clause just says that you are not allowed to charge
> money for allowing people to use fhgfs. So it actually protects users from
> paying for a software, which is in fact free to use for everyone, no matter
> if it's a commercial user or not.
> On the other hand, you are still free to charge customers for services
> around fhgfs, e.g. you might charge your cloud customers for installing
> fhgfs or maintaining it or something like that - if that's what you have in
> mind.
We generally just charge for CPU hours, and bundle as much in as we can for
that price (Network, Disk, etc).  We hate "Gotcha" pricing models and our
customers live comfortably in the "Best Effort" support we can offer on
free software.  If we ever have exotic requirements (100+TB) we work out
something special.  Any ISP or Software licensing is usually passed through
or handled directly between the user and the IP owner, and we host whatever
is required to keep the licensing people happy :)

Our parallel file-system choices have been limited because our customers
are usually not long term commited, so paying annual licenses or buying
dedicated storage systems rarely makes sense financially. It's always
scratch and backed up at their location, so we can skate on the edge
without much risk.  And if they really like it they may put it on their
internal systems.

> Please let us know if this is sufficient for you to consider FhGFS in the
> future or if we again should work with our Fraunhofer lawyers to improve
> the license.
We will do some initial testing as time permits and get back on the
licensing piece if need be then. I appreciate the intent of the licensing
line is difficult to communicate, and look forward to learning more.


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