Inktank acquisition

Jeff Darcy jdarcy at
Wed Apr 30 14:33:20 UTC 2014

As many of you have probably heard by now, we're joining forces with our good
friends working on Ceph at Inktank.  As one of the community's semi-official
bloggers, here's my own take on this momentous event.

(same thing inline, for convenience)

I know a lot of people are going to be asking me about Red Hat's acquisition of
Inktank, so I've decided to collect some thoughts on the subject.  The very
very simple version is that **I'm delighted**.  Occasional sniping back and
forth notwithstanding, I've always been a huge fan of Ceph and the people
working on it.  This is great news.  More details in a bit, but first I have to
take care of some administrivia.

*Unlike everything else I have ever written here, this post has been submitted
to my employer for approval prior to publication.  I swear to you that it's
still my own sincere thoughts, but I believe it's an ethical requirement for
independent bloggers such as myself to be up front about any such entanglement
no matter how slight the effect might have been.  Now, on with the real

As readers and conference-goers beyond number can attest, I've always said that
Ceph and GlusterFS are allies in a common fight against common rivals.  First,
we've both stood against proprietary storage appliances, including both
traditional vendors and the latest crop of startups.  A little less obviously,
we've also both stood for Real File Systems.  Both projects have continued to
implement and promote the classic file system API even as other projects (some
even with the gall to put "FS" in their names) implement various stripped-down
APIs that don't preserve the property of working with every script and library
and application of the last thirty years.  Not having to rewrite applications,
or import/export data between various special-purpose data stores, is a **huge**
benefit to users.

Naturally, these two projects have a lot of similarities.  In addition to the
file system API, both have tried to address object and block APIs as well.
Because of their slightly different architectures and user bases, however,
they've approached those interfaces in slightly different ways.  For example,
GlusterFS is "files all the way down" whereas Ceph has separate bulk-data and
metadata layers.  GlusterFS distributes cluster management among all servers,
while Ceph limits some of that to a dedicated "monitor" subset.  Whether it's
because of these technical differences or because of relationships or pure
happenstance, the two projects have experienced different levels of traction in
each of these markets.  This has led to different lessons, and different ideas
embedded in each project's code.

One of the nice things about joining forces is that we each gain even more
freedom than before to borrow each other's ideas.  Yes, they were both open
source, so we could always do some of that, but it's not like we could have used
one project's management console on top of the other's data path.  GlusterFS
using RADOS would have been unthinkable, as would Ceph using GFAPI.  Now, all
things are possible.  In each area, we have the chance to take two sets of ideas
and either converge on the better one or merge the two to come up with something
even better than either was before.  I don't know what the outcomes will be, or
even what all of the pieces are that we'll be looking at, but I do know that
there are some very smart people joining the team I'm on.  Whenever that
happens, all sorts of unpredictable good things tend to happen.

So, welcome to my new neighbors from the Ceph community.  Come on in, make
yourself comfortable by the fire, and let's have a good long chat.

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