Red Hat to Buy Object and Block Storage Company Inktank for $175M

Open source software company Red Hat has agreed to acquire software-defined storage company Inktank, whose object and block storage technology helps customers scale their cloud storage to the exabyte-level on cost-effective commodity hardware.

According to its Wednesday announcement, Red Hat will pay approximately $175 million in cash for Inktank in a deal that’s expected to close in May 2014. Inktank began in 2012 when it was spun out of web host and cloud services provider DreamHost.

With its own GlusterFS-based storage offering, Red Hat is positioned to become a leader in open, software-defined storage.

Inktank uses the open source, software-defined storage system known as Ceph, which it is quickly gaining popularity among users of the OpenStack framework. According to the OpenStack Foundation, approximately 20 percent of all OpenStack clouds deploy Ceph for block storage.

Inktank’s main offering, Inktank Ceph Enterprise, allows users to run production Ceph clusters at scale and improve the economics and management of storage on public and private clouds.

DreamHost had led to the development of Inktank, but also Ceph itself. DreamHost’s co-founder and CTO Sage Weil was among the key people involved in the creation of Ceph about a decade ago.

In 2004, while working on his Ph.D., Weil was part of the research team at UC Santa Cruz that did early work on Ceph, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. After gaining his doctorate, he continued work on Ceph with a small team of engineers at DreamHost which eventually became Inktank.

In 2011 Bryan Bogensberger, a senior executive at DreamHost, developed the business plan for spinning out Inktank. With Bogensberger at the helm as president and COO, the company launched in 2012 with an initial startup investment of $5 million from DreamHost before attracting outside investment.

Inktank’s first customer was also DreamHost, which used Inktank to support DreamHost’s object storage service, DreamObjects, the first public commercial deployment of Ceph, with its September 2013 beta launch. DreamObjects has now served more than 10,000 users.

It’s now expected that Red Hat’s backing of Inktank will drive further development of the open-source Ceph project, and help more organizations use this technology in cloud computing environments.

Red Hat EVP and CTO Brian Stevens said in a statement, “Inktank has done a brilliant job assembling a strong ecosystem around Ceph and we look forward to expanding on this success together. The strength of these world-class open storage technologies will offer compelling capability as customers move to software-based scale-out storage systems.”