Ceph spinoff looks to monetize open-source storage framework

  • Jon Gold (Network World)
  • 04 May, 2012 06:38

The main developers behind the popular Ceph open-source storage framework announced today that they have created a new company, dubbed Inktank, to provide paid support and consulting for the system.

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Ceph, which began as the pet project of Dreamhost co-founder Sage Weil, provides block-, object- and POSIX-based storage as part of a single package. Inktank president and COO Bryan Bogensberger says that, despite what's seen as powerful functionality, many companies may have passed on using Ceph because of a lack of professional services and support.

"People were trying to do big things with Ceph, without any more than a couple of guys to go to on a mailing list," Bogensberger says.

Inktank will pursue several development channels beyond end-user services, Bogensberger adds, saying also that the company is close to a deal with a "massive" OEM for the resale of Inktank services. Another potential OEM partnership could see the creation of a dedicated Ceph appliance, he says.

Ceph's inclusion in Ubuntu's new long-term service release, according to Bogensberger, is another factor that could drive user base growth for the storage system.

Inktank's offering, he says, has a cost-per-gigabyte advantage over less open competitors.

"A service provider can legitimately, tomorrow, launch an object store that can compete with even the lowest tier of the Amazon pricing at 5 cents or 6 cents per gig," says Bogensberger.

Ceph's open-source nature and ability to run on commodity hardware allow it to deliver substantial cost savings, he says. The framework uses the LGPL Version 2 to help protect against potential copyright issues, which Bogensberger says were crucial concerns when developing Ceph.

"We actually just went through a license audit to make sure we've done everything correctly," he says.

While this "doesn't mean we can't" develop proprietary features around Ceph in the future, Bogensberger adds, the group's goal is to maintain the framework's openness.

The business, he says, is one that is just now "catching up" to the progress of the technology created by the development community.

"We're trying to help these people more formally," Bogensberger says.

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