Red Hat Gluster, the cloud storage monster

With the Gluster acquisition, Red Hat has renewed interest in distributed storage -- and become a big data storage player overnight

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Earlier this month, Red Hat announced it had acquired Gluster, developer of the GlusterFS open source file system and the Gluster Storage Platform software stack. In so doing, Red Hat set itself up as a one-stop shop for those looking to deploy big data solutions such as Apache Hadoop. But it also bought a file system that has serious potential for cloud-based deployments. If you haven't heard of Gluster yet, here's a quick look at what makes it different than most other scale-out NAS solutions.

A quick tour of Gluster

In Gluster's own words, GlusterFS is "a scalable open source clustered file system that offers a global namespace, distributed front-end, and scales to hundreds of petabytes without difficulty." That's a big claim, but GlusterFS is built to solve big problems -- really big problems. In fact, Gluster's maximum capacity is somewhere in the neighborhood of 72 brontobytes (yeah, that's a real word).

Perhaps the most important detail to know right off the bat about GlusterFS is that it accomplishes absolutely massive scale-out NAS without one thing that pretty much everyone in the big data space uses: metadata. Metadata is the data that describes where a given file or block is located in a distributed file system; it's also the Achilles' heel of most scale-out NAS solutions.

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