Inktank launches to change the face of open-source storage

The lead developers behind open-source storage system Ceph have launched a company, called Inktank, to commercialize the software. The company describes Ceph as a “fully open source, distributed object store, network block device, and POSIX-compatible distributed file system designed for reliability, performance, and scalability.” It’s uniqueness comes in part because Ceph does all these things within a unified platform.

Ceph, which was created in 2004 by Inktank Co-Founder and CEO Sage Weil while a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is already making a name for itself in the cloud computing world. Hosting provider DreamHost was an early user of the software, and has led the charge to integrate Ceph with the OpenStack project. OpenStack has its own native distributed file system, but relies on third-party options such as Ceph for block storage.

DreamHost has also worked with Dell (s dell) to make Dell’s open source Crowbar configuration tool compatible with Ceph.

However, Ceph uptake doesn’t seem to have as high of uptake as other popular open source projects, so it’s hard to predict how successful Inktank will be trying to sell support and commercial services around Ceph. Hadoop, for example, had proven very popular before the ecosystem of commercial Hadoop companies popped up, and even Nginx had a huge footprint to point to before commercializing its open source web server. Ditto MySQL.

Part of the reason for Ceph’s relative lack of hype might be the presence of other popular open source distributed file systems such GlusterFS. Red Hat (s rht) bought Gluster, the commercial entity behind GlusterFS, last year.

But maybe that will turn out to be a good thing for Inktank. Ceph’s unique combination of capabilities, now backed by a commercial entity, could make Inktank stand out as the open source platform of choice for businesses that want to avoid the large-vendor experience.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock user Jason Mintzer.