For some pretty obvious reasons, everybody’s asking me about this already and will probably continue to do so, so I might as well get some thoughts written down in semi-coherent form. First, though, let’s take care of some administrivia.

I do not – ever – represent Red Hat online. I neither can nor want to speak for them. Also, I was not directly involved in the acquisition. I’m sure my well known opinions about Gluster helped put the idea in people’s heads, and I’m sure I’ll be quite busy helping figure out exactly where to go from here, but it would have been neither appropriate nor useful for me to have been involved in between. Everybody who was involved knew and respected that, as did I, so I was not at all surprised to read about it in public sources first. I’m posting this on my personal site instead of the HekaFS site to underscore the fact that this is my personal, unofficial opinion as someone who is affected by but not responsible for this decision.

OK, enough of that. Personally, then, I am delighted by this. Let’s enumerate some of the things I’ve been feeling and saying about Gluster and GlusterFS since I joined Red Hat and started the CloudFS/HekaFS project.

  • This is an area where open source has needed to make a stronger play vs. proprietary solutions.
  • GlusterFS has a strong overall architecture – e.g. leveraging local filesystems, adding modular functionality – for dealing with emerging needs regarding unstructured data, cloud deployment, etc. Sure, there are some parts of the implementation that I think could improve, but I’d rather build on a strong base than have to rip out and throw away stuff built on a weak one.
  • The Gluster folks are as committed to open source as Red Hat is. Not only their code but their process is open, and so are their minds. Just think for a moment how open-minded someone must be to listen when I get all opinionated about their work. Despite my abrasive style, they have always listened and responded constructively.
  • Community matters, and the very strong Gluster/FS community has been one of the best parts of my job for the last couple of years.

All of this adds up to a move that somebody in open source had to make, and these were the best two companies to make it. Proprietary Big Storage has defined the field too long. This will make it a lot easier to implement not only my vision for HekaFS, but other visions as well. Scale-out shared-nothing storage that’s easy to configure, easy to tune, easy to monitor, is a powerful tool. It can be used to serve up files – or objects – directly to users, as part of either a traditional or cloud environment. It can be used to serve up the virtual-machine (and other disk) images that are an essential part of cloud computing. It can be used for many other things besides, either as-is or via extension modules. Compression or deduplication, snapshots or versioning, custom access controls, inline format conversions . . . the sky’s the limit. Layering separate functionality on top of dumb blocks/files/objects, each oblivious to the other, is so yesterday, but it’s all that competitors will ever make possible. When people have access to a strong and stable core, plus the ability to tinker with it, much more ambitious visions both within and outside Red Hat become possible. What would you do, if you could build storage that was exactly what you need?