Redhat Extends W/ Open Source Software-Defined Storage

Redhat has officially cemented its place as the leading open source software-defined storage (SDS) provider, with the release of Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2. This service will provide object, block, and later file storage solutions, with caching and tiering capabilities to easily store and access archived as well as randomly accessible data at a low cost.
According to Neil Levine, Director of product management, Storage and Big Data, Red Hat, “Enterprises are under pressure to store expanding amounts of data with limited IT budgets. As part of our commitment to redefining the economics of software-defined storage, the new archiving and tiering functionality in Red Hat’s Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2 enables users to define pools for storing data densely, and therefore more cost-effectively, as well as pools that serve data very quickly. And, because these pools all work together, customers can now create the blend of price and performance that’s right for them for both cold and hot data storage.”
This has been a long journey for Redhat. It started with the acquisition of Gluster for a whopping $136 million in October 2011. Gluster brought onboard Gluster File System, an open source platform. It is currently offered as a storage solution for both OpenStack infrastructure and commercial-grade Red Hat Storage Server.
However, Redhat was not satisfied with file storage. In addition, it has been courting OpenStack cloud OS for a while. The fact that it is open source and it is a cloud OS makes it even more attractive. Therefore, acquiring Inktank was a natural choice for Redhat. They acquired Inktank in May 2014 for $175 million. This increased Redhat’s storage portfolio to include Ceph Enterprise, an object and block storage platform very popular with the early adopters of Openstack. Launched in October 2013, it was the first commercial-grade edition of its kind.
Considering Redhat announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 in early July 2014, it did not come as a shocker to learn that Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2 supports this platform.
According to Redhat, Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2 attempts to bridge the gap between price, performance and efficiency. This is the same promise offered by EMC when it launched an array of flash storage products during their “Redefine Possible” event held in early July 2014. Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2 has several features to deliver on this promise. In a press release, Redhat stated that IDC’s Worldwide Cold Storage Ecosystem Taxonomy report was the impetus for Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2’s tiering and caching capabilities.
Erasure Coding:
This is a data-durability feature for object storage that will be used to archive data at a reduced cost.
Cache Tiering:
This feature will be used as a double-edged sword; to enhance the performance of the infrastructure as well as data management. The cache tiering feature will allow data centers to accelerate dynamic access and archival of data.
Calamari v1.2:
As of May 2014, Redhat open sourced Calamari – Ceph Enterprise management platform. It was part of the newly unveiled features. It has an added cluster management feature to its monitoring capabilities. According to Inktank, “users can define storage pools, set cluster settings and initiate changes to running processes in response to logs and notifications generated by the monitoring dashboard.”
Software-Defined Storage (SDS) is now trending because it offers the same benefits offered by server virtualization. As defined by VMware, “Software-defined storage, a foundational component of the software-defined data center, abstracts storage resources to enable pooling, replication and on-demand distribution. The result is a storage layer much like that of virtualized compute—aggregated, flexible, efficient and scalable. The benefits are across-the-board reductions in the cost and complexity of storage infrastructure.”
Besides cost, Open Source Software has a lot more benefits like security, reliability, and fast-deployment compared to proprietary software. These benefits make Open Source SDS more attractive to businesses of all sizes. Therefore, it is no wonder that Redhat wants to be the go-to provider of Open Source SDS. While Redhat offerings are not a one-size-fits-all, Inktank Ceph Enterprise 1.2 is flexible enough to be customized according to the needs of customers. Redhat saw this bigger picture earlier on, and its acquisitions were right on track with this strategy.

Article updated: 7/20/2014