Red Hat has just announced the acquisition of open-source storage firm Inktank for approximately $175 million. The deal is Red Hat’s first key acquisition of 2014 and is the second important acquisition of a storage vendor for Red Hat, in the last three years.


Inktank is the lead commercial vendor that is behind the open-source Ceph distributed storage file system. Sage Weil, who is also the company’s CEO, created the Ceph system. The open-source Ceph project was officially off the ground back in 2006 and it quickly became part of the mainline Linux 2.6.34 kernel four years ago.

Sage Weil founded Inktank a couple of years ago, in 2012, as a way to assist in supporting firms that want to run Ceph inside a production environment. Inktank, as a privately held company, enjoyed the financial backing of Dreamhost as well as Mark Shuttleworth, who heads up Red Hat’s rival, Ubuntu Linux.


Ceph is sometimes seen as a competitor to the open-source Gluster filesystem project. Red Hat actually acquired Gluster in 2011 for $136 million.  Since then they have leveraged Gluster to become the hub of the Red Hat Storage product line.

In a recent  FAQ published by Red Hat regarding the Inktank deal, Red Hat acknowledges that Ceph and Gluster are very similar technologies.

“Inktank has a more mature block interface and OpenStack integration, while Gluster has a more mature file system interface and traditional web storage integration,” Red Hat stated. “Therefore, the two complement each other very well and we believe the combination is a very attractive alternative to traditional proprietary storage.”

Red Hat is a open-source vendor and will have to adjust Inktank’s product strategy.  Where there is an open-source code base, Inktank has an open core model for software and then proprietary code developed above that to provide additional functionality.

Inktank has a Ceph Enterprise product, which includes the Calamari monitoring, and diagnostics tool. Calamari will now make the transition from being a proprietary technology to now being an open-source project. “Red Hat is one of only a handful of companies that I trust to steward the Ceph project…When we started Inktank two years ago, our goal was to build the business by making Ceph successful as a broad-based, collaborative open source project with a vibrant user, developer, and commercial community. Red Hat shares this vision,” Weil said.

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[Image via voiceofgreyhat]