Red Hat buys Gluster storage company, OpenStack support included

Red Hat's $136 million acquisition of Gluster gives the company a next generation storage solution for enterprises' private and public clouds and hybrid storage needs. Red Hat said Gluster's OpenStack support will continue and noted that its own Fedora Linux project is also actively packaging OpenStack in Fedora 16.

Red Hat's entry into the storage market with its $136 million acquisition of Gluster not only expands its infrastructure lineup but its cloud standards lineup as well.

Gluster Inc, of Sunnyvale, Calif, is  six year old company that supplies open source scale out storage software for public and private clouds.  It is also one of more than 100 companies supporting OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system project.  Gluster CTO AB Periasamy serves on the board of the Free Software Foundation of India and has publicly backed OpenStack.

Red Hat is not an OpenStack company and has its own Linux-based cloud platform underway.  Does the Gluster deal change that?

Probably not.

But Red Hat will continue to support Gluster's support of OpenStack, one spokeswoman said. And she noted that the Fedora project is actively incorporating OpenStack support in Fedora 16.  OpenStack was founded by Rackspace and NASA and is also backed heavily by Citrix.

During today's conference call on the deal, Red Hat execs said the company would continue to support existing storage partners in spite of its new storage business. The same would apply to cloud partners as well.  But it doesn't mean the Red Hat will become an OpenStack company.

"We're not announcing any forward-looking product plans at this time," one company spokeswoman said when asked if future versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux will support OpenStack. "We're focused on community engagement."

Red Hat says the deal has far reaching ramifications for the company's overall platform as well as its cloud computing architecture.

"This is a significant event for Red Hat," said Charlie Peters, CFO,  noting that the Linux leader offers open source operating system, middleware,  virtualization and cloud computing platforms and the Gluster buy "addresses another important infrastructure need."

Storage is, after all,  a $4 billion business, Peters claimed.

But there's no doubt that the cloud angle in this deal is big.

Red Hat noted that Gluster provides a leading open source storage solution for bridging the management of data from on premise to the cloud, a key next generation IT requirement.

The GlusterFS technology is designed for the distributed scale out needs of unstructured data on premise and in the cloud and offers unique storage backplane technologies for virtualized and physical data, Red Hat execs also said.

Red Hat execs said this scale-out software solution will be critical for enterprises' private and public cloud needs and hybrid storage cloud needs as well.  CTO Brian Stevens pointed out during a conerence call today that hardware storage solutions cannot work well for enterprises that rely on Amazon, for instance, for its public cloud needs.

Here's what the Red Hat Q&A says:

Gluster technology offers capabilities that make it well suited to Red Hat's cloud computing strategy. Red Hat is actively building cloud solutions, as demonstrated by its IaaS/CloudForms and PaaS/OpenShift announcements earlier this year. Gluster's ability to advance Red Hat's storage capabilities also offers a unique opportunity for Red Hat and its customers. We believe Gluster's technology enhances Red Hat's cloud-computing capabilities and also offers great value in standard physical and virtual computing environments.

The deal is expected to close in October and Red Hat plans to make new investments in sales and support to build up what it describes as a disruptive storage solution.

Don't know how Red Hat's existing storage ISVs will react, but there's little doubt that the company's foray into next generation storage is a wise move indeed.  And its continued support of OpenStack is a good move, too.