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Summary:

In a $175 million move that’s bound to shake up the OpenStack ecosystem, Red Hat is buying Inktank, the company behind the popular Ceph file-and-object store technology.

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Interesting: Red Hat is buying Inktank, the company behind the popular Ceph open-source distributed storage technology, for about $175 million in cash.

In its press release, Red Hat positioned the acquisition as complementary to its Gluster distributed storage technology and said the combination will boost Red Hat’s presence in software-defined storage. Oh, and it will give big customers an option aside from proprietary solutions from EMC. Red Hat bought Gluster and its scale-out storage expertise two years ago.

Here’s how Red Hat differentiates between the two storage technologies in its FAQ. Both rely on commodity servers and the underlying XFS file system. But, according to the FAQ:

“Inktank has a more mature block interface and OpenStack integration, while Gluster has a more mature file system interface and traditional web storage integration. Therefore, the two complement each other very well and we believe the combination is a very attractive alternative to traditional proprietary storage.”

Structure Europe 2012 Brian Stevens Red Hat

Brian Stevens, CTO and VP, Red Hat. Photo by Julia de Boer Photography, http://www.juliadeboer.com

Red Hat, which leads the leagues in enterprise Linux, is trying to replicate that success in OpenStack cloud — and there Ceph is a very important component. Many OpenStack fans prefer Ceph to OpenStack’s own Swift storage because it provides both block storage and file storage capabilities, while Swift focuses on object storage.

I guess the news shouldn’t be a total surprise, given that Inktank added Red Hat support to Ceph a year ago. Still, it may unsettle some OpenStack players who view Red Hat as a threat and would like to see its power over the emerging framework limited. This will likely be the a hot topic at the  OpenStack Summit which kicks off May 12 in Atlanta.

Red Hat EVP Brian Stevens and Inktank founder Sage Weil will speak more about the deal later on Wednesday. And we’ll be sure to ask Stevens about Red Hat’s plans for Ceph during his appearance at Gigaom Structure in June.

This story was updated with additional quotes and context about how Ceph and Gluster differ from Red Hat documents.

  1. Ceph is actually a distributed Object storage system (RADOS), with a Block storage interface on top of it (RADOS Block Device), and a (still in-development/alpha) File System storage on top of the object store as well. The Ceph File System isn’t ready for production, and Gluster has had success in that use case where that’s its strength.

    This acquisition is a bit surprising given Red Hat already owns Gluster, although they’re largely complimentary to Ceph. It does help Red Hat sell and support a complete Enterprise OpenStack solution.

    Also Ceph has had good integration with Canonical/Ubuntu’s OpenStack distribution, and has been Canonical’s preferred storage system even over OpenStack’s Swift (Object storage) and Cinder (Block storage). While I wouldn’t question Red Hat’s credentials in the open source community, I wonder if this level of cooperation and integration will continue.

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  2. Cloud Insider Thursday, May 1, 2014

    Madness. Paying this much for an open source product that has minimal customers is just silly. Has Red Hat really sunk to the level of Yahoo where they have to pay ridiculous amounts to get a small number of acqui-hires? I thought they would be able to attract talent easier.

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