Doug Cutting Appointed CROSS Distinguished Fellow

Doug Cutting, CROSS Distinguished Fellow
Doug Cutting, CROSS Distinguished Fellow
Carlos Maltzahn, CROSS Director
Carlos Maltzahn, CROSS Director
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Stephanie Lieggi

Doug Cutting was recently appointed Distinguished Fellow of the Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS). This appointment by the Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE) at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) highlights the importance the university places on strengthening CROSS’s ability to bridge the gap between student prototypes and successful open-source software (OSS) projects.

Mr. Cutting, who is currently Chief Architect at Cloudera, Inc., is the founder of numerous groundbreaking open-source projects, including Lucene, Nutch, Avro, and Hadoop. The wide-spread adoption of Hadoop, in particular, is credited for giving rise to today’s big data industry. Cutting was previously Chair of the Apache Software Foundation Board. He has also worked with Yahoo, Excite, Apple, and Xerox PARC.

As a CROSS Distinguished Fellow, Cutting will contribute his considerable expertise in open-source software to the work of students and faculty involved with CROSS, including OSS project evaluation, project leadership, and incubator operations. Through the appointment, Cutting also joins the UCSC CROSS Advisory Committee, which includes Karen Sandler and Sage Weil, both well known within the OSS community. As member of the UCSC CROSS Advisory Committee, Cutting will advise CROSS Director Carlos Maltzahn in his selection of projects for funding, and will help guide the strategic direction of the Center. Cutting says he “looks forward to helping CROSS turn promising software prototypes into sustainable open source projects, making them directly usable by the world at large.”

Throughout his career, Cutting has consistently focused on creating and supporting software projects that could be readily adopted and have long-term impact. According to Cutting, “As software becomes critical in every sector, more of that software is open source. Open source methodology provides folks the software they need under terms that they like. There's thus a growing demand for people experienced in creating and managing open source projects.”

Cutting believes that “institutions can only depend on an open source technology when it has a strong community. Feeding and nurturing an open source project to build its community requires a dedicated effort. CROSS provides resources needed to build sustainable communities around technologies.”

Cutting will work closely with Director Carlos Maltzahn and will interact with other BSOE faculty to promote OSS techniques and strategies in research and education at UC Santa Cruz. According to Maltzahn, “Doug Cutting is the kind of leader we aim to attract to CROSS to help us raise the next generation of OSS leadership.” Maltzahn noted that Cutting’s advice and guidance will help CROSS more effectively build active and diverse OSS communities around its incubator projects so that they can graduate to external incubators like the Apache Foundation or the Software Freedom Conservancy.

CROSS was initially established in 2015 with a $2.5 million gift from UCSC alumnus Sage Weil. The Center has been sustained from the beginning by a growing number of industry members, including Toshiba America Electronic Components, SK Hynix Memory Solutions, Micron Technology, and Seagate Technology. The purpose of CROSS is to help students and recent graduates follow the model set by Weil, who developed his computer science PhD thesis into the highly successful open-source software project Ceph. Many students create very innovative research prototypes but once graduated they often have to abandon them because there are no resources to make them available to the public. CROSS funding allows students with the most promising research prototypes to incubate them into successful OSS projects. Thus CROSS is playing an important role in supporting and furthering the open source software community by, as Cutting notes, “helping turn students into developers engaged in the real software world.”

CROSS works with industry to support OSS projects and communities. The input from industry members is vital to the overall success of CROSS efforts, as the member companies help CROSS identify topics and projects most likely to have widespread, real world impact. Industry members likewise benefit by having access the innovative open source software projects and to talented students and experts, like Doug Cutting, affiliated with CROSS.

CROSS is looking to widen its membership base, another area in which Cutting will be able to help. Having played a pivotal role in the evolution of big data technologies, he is well-connected to industry, especially in the Silicon Valley. With Cutting as an advisor, CROSS will gain more visibility across a variety of software and hardware industries, which already appreciate the strategic role that open-source software projects play in shaping markets to their advantage.