Gluster (a combination of GNU and cluster) builds GlusterFS, an open source, scale-out file system for storing and managing unstructured data--files, spreadsheets, and images--that is built with industry standard x86-based servers (nodes). As nodes are added to the cluster, either implemented in the cloud or on-premises, they are recognized and data distributed among them and managed by a global file system that can support petabytes of storage.
"Our customers are looking for software-based storage solutions that manage their file-based data on-premises, in the cloud, and bridging between the two," said Brian Stevens, CTO and VP of worldwide engineering at Red Hat. "With unstructured data growth (such as log files, virtual machines, email, audio, video, and documents), the '90s paradigm of forcing everything into expensive, single-system [database management systems] residing on an internal corporate SAN has become unwieldy and impractical."
This is not the first storage acquisition for Red Hat. In 2003, the company acquired Sistina and the Sistina SAN File System. It now markets Sistina as the Red Hat Global File System. In 2008, the company acquired Qumranet, the maker of the KVM virtualization hypervisor, which Gluster supports.
[Red Hat's inroads into virtualization are threatening the market leader. Learn why VMware Should Worry More About Red Hat.]
GlusterFS relies on the open source model and is a good fit for Red Hat. GlusterFS also supports KVM, Xen, and VMware hypervisors and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud on Elastic Block Storage. It also supports Apache Hadoop for Big Data applications. It can be installed on top of other file systems such as ext3, ext4, XFS and exposes the file system as a CIFS, NFS, or Gluster Native mountpoint.
And, Red Hat is certainly not the only company with an interest in scale-out storage. In 2010, Dell acquired Exanet, then EMC bought Isilon, and, in 2009, HP bought Ibrix.
Red Hat intends to market Gluster's GlusterFS and its Virtual Storage Appliance on a subscription basis, while integrating the company's technology into other as yet unspecified products.
Among Gluster's customers are Pandora, Box.net, and Samsung.
Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.