Red Hat Buys InkTank – Paradigms Shift Subtly but Audibly

Last Wednesday brought news of RedHat’s impending acquisition of InkTank, spun out of DreamHost in 2012 to help advance the open source, Linux-resident, cloud-friendly Ceph technology — earlier originated at DreamHost by Sage Weil (now InkTank’s CTO) based on PhD research Weil did at UC Santa Cruz’ Storage Systems Research laboratory, under sponsorship by the US Department of Energy. Ceph-based scale-out storage is part of the magic underlying  Amazon S3, DropBox and other multi-petabyte-scale cloud storage initiatives. It is, of course, increasingly important to OpenStack users — Ceph provides REST-accessible object storage under multiple interfaces (including OpenStack’s Swift), block storage (under Cinder, among other abstractions), and in 2014, will introduce a POSIX-compatible file system.  

InkTank provides many practical ways for organizations to use Ceph.  They have their own Ceph distribution (InkTank Ceph Enterprise) packaged as a subscription service with wraparound support, whose pricing reflects total data stored (at >petabyte scales, it costs less than one cent per GB/month). They offer bespoke integration as well as PoC, infrastructure assessment, performance-tuning and other professional services, plus private and ‘InkTank University’ classroom training for developers.

The warmest, and in some ways the most-informative quick-read on InkTank and Ceph came from proud parent, Dreamhost, on April 30, via Marketwired, under the (slightly-giddy) headline “… Open Source Storage Baby Grows Up, Could Probably Beat Up Dad.” Elsewhere, Christopher Tozzi, Jon Benedict (NetApp) and others put forward the sensible point that InkTank’s acquisition works as a hedge with RedHat’s earlier acquisition of Gluster virtual storage, giving RH very deep bench strength in what looks like the global market’s choice for scale-out storage creation and storage hardware commodification. In a practical sense, says the company, Gluster and InkTank are complementary — the former offering a mature filesystem, while the latter is stronger in object and block storage.

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