Storage

Gluster Pushes Storage Software to VMware, Amazon

The Gluster open-source file system is following the well-worn path into virtualization and cloud computing with the introduction on Tuesday of Gluster Virtual Storage Appliances for VMware and for the Amazon Web Services platform.

GlusterFS is a file system that can cluster storage systems of any type into a single virtual network-attached storage pool with a global namespace. Gluster, the company, sells service and support for GlusterFS on a subscription basis, similar to Red Hat Linux's approach to Linux.

The file system runs on standard x86 hardware but until now has been offered for use on dedicated servers. It is available by itself and in a platform version that includes an OS, a graphical user interface and management software. With Gluster Virtual Storage Appliances, enterprises can deploy GlusterFS on virtual machines running either on site or in a cloud environment.

Gluster's move follows the dramatic shift toward virtualized computing infrastructure by large enterprises, most of which have virtualized at least some servers over the past few years. Enterprises are also closely examining public cloud infrastructures such as Amazon's for access to flexible computing and storage resources.

Going virtual gives the Gluster file system and management software the same flexibility that enterprises have sought by virtualizing other software, said IDC analyst Noemi Greyzdorf. For example, IT departments can boost its performance by easily moving it to new computing hardware, rather than worrying about their investment in a dedicated server and reinstalling the software on a new device, she said.

The VMwareVirtual Storage Appliance brings GlusterFS into a VMware virtual machine that can run on any VMware-compatible server platform. Gluster will sell two tiers of subscriptions for the VMware product. The standard tier includes on-call support during business hours, for US$4,000 per node, per year. The premium tier offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for $5,000 per node, per year. Each tier is priced per virtual machine, regardless of the storage capacity managed by the software, said Jack O'Brien, vice president of marketing.

The product for Amazon Web Services puts GlusterFS in an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for deployment on the AWS public cloud. The AMI runs on an instance of Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and manages Elastic Block Stores, the form of storage in EC2. Servers and clients will talk to the virtual Gluster server to address the EBS data, O'Brien said. This expands the amount of storage that EC2 users can tap into. Each EBS volume is limited to 2TB, but GlusterFS lets users combine those volumes into one large pool, he said.

The Gluster AMI will be sold by Gluster exclusively through the Amazon Marketplace. It follows Amazon's pricing conventions, based on small, medium, large and extra large EC2 instances, but the pricing will come out roughly the same as for the standard tier of the VMware product, O'Brien said.

Both the VMware and the AMI products will be available starting Tuesday on an early access basis and starting on Feb. 15 in general availability.

The two products coming Tuesday are the first of what Gluster expects to eventually be an entire range of virtualized products. Over time, Gluster expects to introduce versions for the Xen and KVM hypervisors and for other public clouds in addition to Amazon's. The Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor is also on the company's radar, O'Brien said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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