Nearly two years after the purchase of Gluster, Red Hat continues to polish the scale-out storage software for enterprises, making it more compatible with cloud services and Microsoft enterprise software.
The latest version of the software, now called Red Hat Storage Server, works easily with Microsoft Active Directory and the open source OpenStack cloud software stack, particularly with Red Hat's own OpenStack distribution. Replication has also been improved and Red Hat Storage Server 2.1, like most other Red Hat products, can now be automatically updated through the Red Hat Network Satellite.
Red Hat is not the only enterprise software vendor that has taken an interest in extending its stack to the storage layer. VMware also recently announced its VSAN (virtual storage area networking) technology, also designed to manage commodity servers as a storage network.
"For the customers to gain true benefit from the convergence of compute and storage, you need compute and storage to peacefully coexist," said Ranga Rangachari, Red Hat vice president and general manager of Red Hat's storage business unit.
In a study funded by Red Hat, IDC had found that software defined storage servers can cut the costs of procuring storage systems by 52 percent and provide an additional 20 percent in operational savings. "You just can't have compute going on all over the place without storage subsystem that supports it," Rangachari said.
Red Hat acquired Gluster in October 2011. Gluster developed a way to pool large numbers of commodity servers equipped with SATA drives into a single storage network, using the GlusterFS (Gluster File System). The Red Hat Storage Server combines GlusterFS with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the oVirt virtualization platform and Red Hat's own XFS file system.
Red Hat has been focusing its marketing efforts on the storage server software to midmarket and large enterprises. According to Rangachari, the software is used quite a bit for disaster recovery operations, data archival that does not use tape, and for Internet services that need to store large and ever-growing repositories of data, such as digital music files or video. Financial software provider Intuit and streaming music company Pandora both use Red Hat Storage Server.
The software "decouples the hardware dependencies, [to] help customers run on an x86 storage server on premise, in a public cloud, or in a hybrid cloud [where] the workloads move back and forth seamlessly without having to rewrite applications," Rangachari said.
The OpenStack cloud framework can now run on the Storage Server, so that users can access data through the Swift object storage API (application programming interface), eliminating the need to write code for an application to get at data stored in OpenStack. The Storage Server also now recognizes the OpenStack block storage -- through OpenStack Cinder -- and machine images, through the OpenStack Glance service.
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