VAST Data making its presence known in the HPC market

VAST Data is the third most popular clustered file system in US academic and government high-performance computing (HPC) institutions, according to a UCAR survey.

UCAR, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, based in Boulder,Colorado, manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research on behalf of the National Science Foundation. It surveyed HPC system professionals in its community earlier this year to find out about their HPC environments and received 54 responses from academic and government institutions. Download the survey results here.

Page 43 of the survey results charted the answer to the question: “What clustered file systems do you have at your institution?” The most popular was Lustre (54.2 percent) followed by Spectrum Scale (now called Storage Scale and originally the General Parallel File System or GPFS) with 41.7 percent. Next was VAST Data with 33.3 percent, with BeeGFS in fourth place with 10.4 percent. Panasas and Ceph are both on 8.3 percent.

UCAR survey chart.

Only 2.1 percent had’s file system – the same percentage as for Qumulo, ZFS, and NetApp. 

This is only a snapshot of some US HPC sites, and certainly not exhaustive, but it provides an independent view of VAST Data’s presence in the HPC market. A question mark over the survey is the low placement of and its parallel file system software. We asked Weka what it thinks about this chart and survey.

VP product marketing Colin Gallagher told us: “This is a non-representative survey with a small sample set based on what seems to be a single Slack group. As such, the characteristics of the survey respondents cannot accurately reflect the market at large. I’d be loath to treat anything like this as fact or news. These types of surveys can be good for qualitative information, but quantitative conclusions are often very biased or inaccurate. The survey is also poorly designed and conflates technology. For example, VAST is not a clustered file system. In a more rigorous, valid sampling – which unfortunately doesn’t exist – we would see Weka with a larger market share based on what we know of our customer base.”

We compared this survey with one from Hyperion Research in late 2022, looking at HPC systems and their file system usage. It looked at NFS and other scale-out file systems separately from parallel file systems, unlike UCAR, and found many institutions used both. In the parallel file system case, Lustre had the largest share, at 46 percent of 139 respondents, with Spectrum Scale having 22 percent, much lower than in the UCAR survey. BeeGFS had 6 percent and Ceph 4 percent, both lower again than in the UCAR survey.

File system adoption chart

VAST had a 5.3 percent presence in the NAS and scaleout file system environment, with 132 respondents saying they used it in their largest system. Qumulo had a higher ranking than VAST, 8.3 percent, while PowerScale (Isilon OneFS) had the same percentage as VAST. does not appear as an individual supplier in Hyperion’s chart.

File system adoption chart featuring VAST

The UCAR survey may have skewed results because the number of respondents is lower than in the Hyperion survey, is focused on atmospheric HPC environments, and, of course, its questions were different. Nevertheless, VAST Data is making its presence felt in the HPC market and, if UCAR’s result is accurate, has a large presence already.