Red Hat To Acquire Gluster For Open-Source, Scale-Out Storage

Red Hat will pay about $136 million in cash for Gluster in a deal it expects to close later this month.

Milpitas, Calif.-based Gluster is a provider of scale-out NAS, which is a way to non-disruptively increase the performance and capacity of network-attached storage using a clustered or grid storage system.

Gluster's GlusterFS scale-out NAS file system uses standard server nodes, each with its own processing power, storage capacity, and I/O bandwidth so that as capacity is added, the processing power and bandwidth increase at the same time. GlusterFS can be used either as a stand-alone file system customers can install on top of their own operating system, or as more of a storage platform with its own GUI and management tool.

Brian Stevens, CTO and vice president of engineering at Red Hat, said at a news conference about the acquisition that Gluster's software stack is already optimized for x86 servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

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The Gluster technology is software-based, so it not only runs on physical servers at the customer site, but also on virtual machines in public clouds such as those provided by Rackspace or Amazon, Stevens said.

For Red Hat, the move to acquire Gluster stems from the fact that the storage market has changed significantly since 10 years ago when customers had a choice of Fibre Channel for fast access and NFS storage for lower cost.

"Ten years ago, storage architecture was sane," Stevens said.

Today, however, customers are looking at public and private clouds, virtualized infrastructure, and big data, all of which require scale-out capabilities in order to manage the explosive growth of storage, Stevens said.

Gluster came out with its scale-out storage architecture about six years ago, and already has over 150 customers, making it not just a technology but an actual running solution, he said. "They were out there at the right time," he said.

Scale-out storage is targeted at unstructured data, which is the biggest problem customers face, Stevens said. "The explosion of unstructured data is like nothing we saw before," he said.

Add to that the issues customers face with storage in virtualized environments and in the cloud, Stevens said. "The time is right to consider alternative solutions."

AB Periasamy, co-founder and CTO of Gluster, said that Gluster started out with a software approach to storage using commodity hardware, and that open source played a huge role in building the company's scale-out technology.

Working with the Gluster open-source community, as well as with standards and other open source efforts like Open Stack plays an important role for helping make sure Gluster's technology is ready for virtualized and cloud environments, Periasamy said.