Red Hat Acquires Gluster for $136 Million In Cash

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.

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Top 3 Cloud Computing Market Trends for 2011

2011 has been an extraordinary year for cloud computing so far. Amazon Web Services (AWS) set the pace with an aggressive roll-out of products such as Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon Cloud Drive. Just when AWS seemed poised to consolidate its first mover advantage with respect to cloud computing market share, the landscape exploded with a veritable feast of product offerings, business partnerships and acquisitions. Every month another Fortune 500 IT or telecommunications company throws its hat into the cloud computing ring: Dell’s vStart, Dell’s recent partnership with SAP, IBM’s SmartCloud, Apple’s iCloud and HP’s BladeSystem Matrix mark just some of the big names and brands that have entered the cloud computing dohyo, or sumo circle. The cast of new actors has rendered the cloud computing space painfully difficult for analysts to quantify for the purpose of understanding relative market share and growth within the industry. But within this bewildering sea of change, three industry trends have emerged that deserve attention:

1. Outages across the industry signal demand outweighs supply
Demand for cloud computing services has begun to outstrip supply to the point where vendor processes for guaranteeing system uptime have become increasingly challenged. The Amazon Web Services outage of 2011 was the most glaring example of a lack of effective, scalable processes for one of the world’s premier IaaS vendors, but 2011 has witnessed notable outages specific to Sony PlayStation, Twitter, Gmail and Google’s Blogger as well. Expect more outages and service disruptions until the industry fathoms the time to develop processes for delivering on 99.99% SLAs as opposed to merely promising them.

2. Early Consolidation vs. the Proliferation of New Entrants to the Market
The past five months have witnessed Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark, Time Warner Cable’s acquisition of NaviSite, CenturyLink’s acquisition of Savvis and rife speculation that Rackspace lies next on the totem pole of potential buyouts. In tandem with the finalization of these acquistions, a slew of other companies such as Appistry, CA Technologies, Engine Yard, Flexiant, GigaSpaces, RightScale and ThinkGrid have emerged on the landscape and promise to collectively cobble together a non-trivial slice of the market while potentially transforming into significant niche players themselves. Expect new entrants on the scene, particularly in the open source space that will increasingly complicate the IaaS market share dominance of AWS, Eucalyptus, Rackspace, GoGrid and Joyent. Consolidations will continue but the market is unlikely to congeal into a few dominant players for quite some time.

3. The Rise of Open Source Cloud Computing Solutions
Rackspace, Dell and Equinux’s launch of a demonstration environment of OpenStack promises to change the industry by enticing customers to consider toying with its open source platform for free while paying for consultative support services associated with cloud design and management. Meanwhile, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack testifies to the strength of OpenStack and conversely, underscores Eucalyptus’s challenge in defining its value proposition as an Amazon EC2 compatible open source IaaS platform. RedHat’s open source PaaS product called OpenShift marks another leading contender in the open source ring by virtue of its deployment flexibility across the Java, Python, PHP and Ruby environments. Expect that open source IaaS and PaaS offerings will become increasingly robust and scalable. If open source solutions can demonstrate reliable, high quality portability across platforms, the market for less portable, private sector IaaS and PaaS solutions is likely to shrink dramatically. The fortunes of OpenStack, OpenShift and the recently formed Open Virtualization Alliance merit a close watch, in particular.

Red Hat Enters IaaS and PaaS Space with CloudForms and OpenShift

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.