Red Hat acquires Gluster

Q: What was announced?

A: On October 4, 2011 Red Hat announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Gluster, an open source storage software company based in Sunnyvale, CA and with development in Bangalore, India.

Q: Why has Red Hat made this purchase?

A: Gluster technology offers capabilities that make it well suited to Red Hat’s cloud computing strategy. Red Hat is actively building cloud solutions, as demonstrated by its IaaS/CloudForms and PaaS/OpenShift announcements earlier this year. Gluster’s ability to advance Red Hat’s storage capabilities also offers a unique opportunity for Red Hat and its customers. We believe Gluster’s technology enhances Red Hat’s cloud-computing capabilities and also offers great value in standard physical and virtual computing environments.

Join Red Hat and Gluster executives for a live webcast on 10/4 at 12pm ET.

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The webcast is also available for replay following the live broadcast.

Gluster is a recent entrant into the $4B market for storage solutions. Gluster technology is designed to handle large, scale-out environments and the huge, unstructured data stores that are becoming central to today’s IT deployments. And, as an open source, software-only solution, designed to run on cost-effective, commodity hardware, it lines up well with Red Hat’s core competencies.

Q: How does Gluster compete in today’s market?

A: Gluster is specifically optimized for the demanding needs of emerging large-scale content-centric workloads, rather than for use as a general purpose storage technology. An important feature of Gluster is that it is a pure software solution, able to run on commodity storage hardware. This differentiates it from many competing products, which require the purchase of specialized, vendor specific hardware. It also offers important customer benefits: lower costs, greater deployment flexibility and reduced vendor lock-in.

As a software-only solution Gluster has the benefit of being able to scale environments ranging from an on-premise collection of storage servers to a cluster of virtual machines built on Amazon Machine Images (AMI). The single namespace approach of the Gluster software isolates end-users and applications from the underlying physical structure.

Q: What is Red Hat’s plan of action with respect to Gluster’s existing products? Will you continue to sell and support them?

A: Yes. Red Hat plans to continue to sell and support Gluster’s products. Gluster has a customer base that is engaged and growing, and Red Hat is committed to expanding and innovating to provide customers with high-value solutions.

Q: What is Red Hat’s sales strategy/plan for Gluster-derived products?

A: In the coming months we plan to incorporate Gluster’s products into other Red Hat solutions and offer them using a typical subscription model, similar to what we do with other Red Hat products.

Q: How is Gluster technology different from Red Hat’s current file system offerings?

A: Gluster provides a unique, software-based, scale-out file system that layers above Red Hat’s other file systems. Gluster is user-level software that sits above any of the current Red Hat file systems (Ext3/4, XFS, etc.).

Gluster is distributed across multiple systems and aggregates the total storage into a single namespace. A Gluster cluster exposes this namespace as an NFS or CIFS mount point that contains every file in the cluster. The benefit of this model is that the underlying storage becomes fully virtualized, and can be distributed as widely as required, including across private and public clouds.

Gluster overcomes the typical downside of distributed file systems (performance and scalability degradation caused by metadata management), by using a sophisticated filename algorithm that eliminates the need for metadata servers.

Q: Will Red Hat continue to foster the Gluster development community?

A: Yes. Gluster’s existing open source development and subscription business models match up well with those of Red Hat. For example, Gluster.org mirrors Red Hat’s Jboss.org and Fedoraproject.org. We expect that with Red Hat’s backing the Gluster community will benefit from the long-term, stable commitment of the world’s largest open source software company, and will continue to grow rapidly.

Q: What is the value of Gluster to the emerging Big Data segment?

A: Gluster has recently announced that it is planning to provide highly scalable storage for unstructured data, while preserving the interoperability benefits of NAS.

Q: Who uses Gluster today and what are the use cases where it shines?

A: Starting from a base in government research institutions, Gluster’s customers have grown to include companies such as Deutsche Bank, Samsung, Autodesk, BAE Systems, Barnes & Noble, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Pandora. For more information about Gluster, visit http://www.gluster.com.

As described in the press release and Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens’ blog, Gluster shines in environments that need to handle large amounts of unstructured data deployed across a heterogeneous, scale-out environment, such as data spread across on-premise and public clouds, or multiple facilities. Examples would include multi-media, geophysical/astronomical data, financial analysis/modeling, medical data, social media data streams, etc.

Q: The storage segment is very crowded with pure-players. How does Red Hat plan to crack this segment?

A: An important point to note is that vendors are grappling with the complexities of cloud computing, especially the integration of storage across hybrid (on-premise and public) clouds. We are excited about the opportunity that this shift to the cloud presents. Additionally the established vendors typically require specialized hardware as part of their solution. Gluster, on the other hand, as a purely software solution can be used with commodity storage hardware. This allows Gluster to deliver significant cost benefits to customers.

Open source software is widely used today for cloud computing on commodity servers, so it is a natural evolution to leverage open source for cloud computing on commodity storage. Gluster benefits from the speed of open source innovation there is already a large community of Gluster users and developers. Red Hat plans to enter this segment in the same way that it enters the segments in which we currently operate, by providing (1) high quality, (2) open source flexibility, (3) rapid innovation and (4) genuine price/performance advantages over the competitors.

Q: How does Gluster fit into Red Hat’s virtualization and cloud strategy?

A: We view Gluster to be a strong fit with Red Hat’s virtualization and cloud products and strategies by bringing to storage the capabilities that we bring to servers today. By implementing a single namespace, Gluster enables enterprises to combine large numbers of commodity storage and compute resources into a high-performance, virtualized and centrally managed pool. Both capacity and performance can scale independent of demand, from a few terabytes to multiple petabytes, using both on-premise commodity hardware and public cloud storage infrastructure. By combining commodity economics with a scale-out approach, customers can achieve better price and performance, in an easy-to-manage solution that can be configured for the most demanding workloads.

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