Sage Weil: Opening doors for open source

Ph.D. '07, computer science

As the founder of web hosting company DreamHost, Sage Weil was already a successful entrepreneur when he came to UC Santa Cruz in 2004 to study data storage systems.

Ceph, initially developed by Weil and other students and faculty in UC Santa Cruz's Baskin School of Engineering, is an open source, software-defined storage system that runs on commodity hardware.

After earning his Ph.D., Weil continued to work on Ceph with a small team at DreamHost, then founded the spin-off Inktank to further develop the platform.

Inktank was acquired by open source software provider Red Hat in 2014 for $175 million. Weil now works for Red Hat as the chief architect of the Ceph project.

In 2015, Weil made major gifts to UC Santa Cruz providing a total of $3 million to support research in free and open source software. His gift established a $1 million endowment at UC Santa Cruz for the Sage Weil Presidential Chair for Open Source Software. Additional gifts totaling $2 million supported research in open source software led by professor of computer science Carlos Maltzahn, who directs the Center for Research in Open Source Software at UC Santa Cruz.

Weil’s goal in making these gifts to UC Santa Cruz was to promote research in open source software and the successful transition of academic research into open source projects and systems.

"We hope to prove out a model that supports academic research and enriches the free and open source ecosystem in a way that maximizes the value of the investment,” Weil said. “If we succeed, we hope to see this replicated in other universities as well."