Startup Inktank Supports Ceph Open-Source Storage Technology

Ceph is an open-source storage technology that provides object, block, and file storage in a single file system for unified storage. It was originally developed as a Ph.D. project at the University of California, Santa Cruz, by Sage Weil, who later went on to found Brea, Calif.-based hosted service provider DreamHost. Weil also founded Los Angeles-based Inktank.

Ceph was originally developed by Weil to solve issues related to scaling metadata in high performance computing applications, said Bryan Bogensberger, president and COO of Inktank.

[Related: 'Unified Storage' Redefined: HDS Manages File, Block, Object As One ]

"Weil ended up with a file system for handling object, file, and block storage," Bogensberger said.

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Ceph has been in the Linux kernel for some time, and despite growing global interest in building on Ceph, there has been little support available, Bogensberger said. Therefore, Inktank was formed late last year and funded in part with a convertible note from DreamHost, which is expected to fund operations through 2012, he said. The company currently has 20 employees, and expects to double headcount by year-end, he said.

Ceph enables users to decouple storage from the hardware, Bogensberger said.

"With Ceph, users can run robust, easily-managed, easily-configured storage on commodity hardware," he said. "It easily handles management of the storage. One customer recently asked, 'Can Ceph be used to move all the data from one big vendor's storage arrays to another vendor's?' It can."

Ceph competes with the storage technology provided by most of the big storage vendors, Bogensberger said. "EMC, NetApp, Hitachi, IBM, all these guys are selling you boxes," he said. "We don't believe this is the way to handle storage."

Ceph is one of several other open-source storage offerings, including Luster, which is supported at the enterprise level by Red Hat, through its October acquisition of Gluster, and ZFS, which was developed by Sun Microsystems.

Inktank provides professional services, support, and certification for Ceph in much the same way Canonical or Red Hat support Linux, Bogensberger said.

He said the company is working with a variety of indirect channels, including builders of technology in the OpenStack, Citrix CloudStack, ExaGrid, and other programs; OEMs and startups building Ceph into storage appliances; hosted services providers such as DreamHost; government high-performance computing providers; enterprise Web services providers; and big data developers.