Red Hat, provider of open source enterprise software solutions, announced Tuesday that it had reached a deal to acquire the online storage company Gluster for $136 million. Gluster was founded in 2005 with the objective of objective of leveraging open source software and commodity hardware to provide enterprise customers with public and private cloud based storage solutions. Gluster FS constitutes the core of Gluster’s offering in the form of a distributed file system that can scale to thousands of client terminals and petabytes of storage. Gluster competes with Sun Microsystem’s open source Lustre file system and IBM’s General Parallel File System. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, the company currently has over 100 enterprise customers including Box.net, the personalized internet radio service Pandora and Deutsche Bank AG.
Red Hat’s acquisition of Gluster means that the commercial Linux distributor enters the $4 billion market for unstructured data storage. More importantly, the deal gives Red Hat the opportunity to define baseline standards for enterprise level management of unstructured data such as emails, log files and documents. Speaking of Red Hat’s motivations for the acquisition, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens remarked:
The explosion of big data and the new paradigm of cloud computing are converging, forcing IT to re-think storage investments that are cost-effective, manageable and scale for the future. Our customers are looking for software-based storage solutions that manage their file-based data on-premise, in the cloud and bridging between the two.
With unstructured data growth (such as log files, virtual machines, email, audio, video and documents), the 90’s paradigm of forcing everything into expensive, single-system DBMS residing on an internal corporate SAN has become unwieldy and impractical.
Stevens indicates how the proliferation of unstructured data at the enterprise level renders cloud based solutions increasingly attractive and viable. Whereas Red Hat excels with open source open source operating systems, virtualization and cloud computing platforms such as CloudForms and OpenShift, its acquisition of Gluster fills a critical infrastructure need involving the management of on premise data in the cloud.
Gluster founder and CTO Anand Babu Periasamy commented on the synergies of the acquisition by noting: “We believe this is a perfect combination of technologies, strategies and cultures and is a great development for our customers, employees, investors and community. Gluster started off with a goal to be the Red Hat of storage. Now, we are the storage of Red Hat.” Red Hat acquired Gluster for $136 million in cash. As part of the acquisition, Red Hat will assume ownership of unvested Gluster equity and offer equity retention incentives to Gluster’s employees.
Red Hat announced that its OpenShift Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering now supports Java Enterprise Edition 6 (Java EE 6) by means of its JBoss Application Server 7 on Wednesday. OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 makes it the first PaaS development environment to support Java EE 6, differentiating it from competitors such as Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure and VMware Cloud Foundry. OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 provides developers with access to the latest enhancements in Java technology and facilitates the migration of Java based applications to the cloud. Java EE 6 includes “Context and Dependency Injection (CDI), a standards-based, modern programming framework that makes it easier for developers to build dynamic applications and picks up where some proprietary frameworks left off.”
JBoss Application Server 7 enables OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 and additionally marks the foundation of Red Hat’s forthcoming JBoss Enterprise Application 6. Released with limited access in May 2011, JBoss Enterprise Application 6 constitutes Red Hat’s vision of “the future of Java application platforms for both traditional and cloud-based environments.” JBoss Enterprise Application 6 is expected to be released for general access early in 2012.
Red Hat’s press release about OpenShift’s support of Java EE 6 noted that “the combination of OpenShift with JBoss application server now allows Java EE to be more easily scaled, managed and monitored in the cloud.” Moreover, “developers looking for a faster on-ramp to the cloud with built-in management and auto-scaling capabilities can use OpenShift so they can focus on coding mobile, social and enterprise applications while leaving stack setup, maintenance and operational concerns to a trusted hosted service.”
Scarcely three months old, OpenShift is an open source PaaS that supports Ruby, Python, Perl, PHP, Java EE, Spring, MySQL, SQLite, MongoDB, MemBase and Memcache.
At its May 2010 summit in Boston, Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced the launch of CloudForms and OpenShift, two products that represent the company’s boldest entrance into the cloud computing space so far. CloudForms marks an IaaS service offering that enables enterprises to create and manage a private or hybrid cloud computing environment. CloudForms provides customers with Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) functionality that enables management of an application deployed over a constellation of physical, virtualized and cloud-based environments. Whereas VMWare’s vCloud enables customers to manage virtualized machines, Red Hat’s CloudForms delivers a more granular form of management functionality that allows users to manage applications. Moreover, CloudForms offers a resource management interface that confronts the problem in the industry known as virtual sprawl wherein IT administrators are tasked with the problem of managing multiple servers, hypervisors, virtual machines and clusters. Red Hat’s IaaS product also offers customers the ability to create integrated, hybrid cloud environments that leverage a combination of physical servers, virtual servers and public clouds such as Amazon EC2.
OpenShift represents Red Hat’s PaaS product that enables open source developers to build cloud computing environments from within a specified range of development frameworks. OpenShift supports Java, Python, PHP and Ruby applications such as Spring, Seam, Weld, CDI, Rails, Rack, Symfony, Zend Framework, Twisted, Django and Java EE. In supporting Java, Python, PHP and Ruby, OpenShift offers the most flexible development environment in the industry as compared to Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure and Google’s App Engine. For storage, OpenShift features SQL and NoSQL in addition to a distributed file system. Red Hat claims OpenShift delivers greater portability than other PaaS products because customers will be able to migrate their deployments to another cloud computing vendor using the DeltaCloud inter-operability API. The only problem with this marketing claim is that DeltaCloud is by no means the most widely accepted cloud computing inter-operability API in the industry. Red Hat submitted the DeltaCloud API to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) in August 2010, but the Red Hat API faces stiff competition from open source versions of Amazon’s EC2 APIs as well as APIs from the OpenStack project.
In summary, Red Hat’s entrance into the IaaS and PaaS space promises to significantly change the cloud computing landscape. CloudForms signals genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presents direct competition to Google Apps, Microsoft Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability. What makes OpenShift so intriguing is it that constitutes Red Hat’s most aggressive attempt so far to claim DeltaCloud as the standard API for the cloud computing industry.