Shuttleworth drops one million cluster bucks on Ceph upstart
Linux moneybags funds Um Bongo's cloudy file system
Billionaire Linux kingpin Mark Shuttleworth has injected $1m into storage startup Inktank to bring the team's distributed file system Ceph to cloud computing.
Shuttleworth invested the cash as a convertible note to grow the four-month-old biz and fund the development of the open-source fault-tolerant storage system Ceph. Inktank was started by several of the file system's creators including Sage Weil, who is the software's chief architect and also a co-founder of DreamHost.
Ceph is designed to be scalable without a single point of failure: file data is striped across cluster nodes and held in object stores. In May the software was added to release 12.04 of Ubuntu, which is Shuttleworth's Linux distribution, and will feature in build 12.10 next month. Developers on the Ceph team have been active in the OpenStack cloud effort, and Ceph is used in Ubuntu as an OpenStack storage component.
In a statement, Shuttleworth reckoned Ceph will help enterprise-grade cloud service providers scale to meet demand effectively.
“I'm delighted to support the team behind Ceph in their goal of building a commercial success story around this tremendous technology, as an investor in Inktank,” Shuttleworth said.
The Ceph source code is available under the GNU Lesser General Public License and is POSIX compatible, and its developers reckon their software can deliver virtually unlimited storage. According to the project's website:
Ceph’s file system runs on top of the same object storage system that provides object storage and block device interfaces. The Ceph metadata server cluster provides a service that maps the directories and file names of the file system to objects stored within RADOS clusters. The metadata server cluster can expand or contract, and it can rebalance the file system dynamically to distribute data evenly among cluster hosts. This ensures high performance and prevents heavy loads on specific hosts within the cluster.
Inktank offers consulting and support for Ceph, and it targets enterprises, service providers, startups and organisations needing high-performance computing. The startup's president and chief operating officer Bryan Bogensberger claimed demand for Ceph has been extraordinary. ®
Former fan of Ubuntu
I'm still using it, actually, but without any enthusiasm. Actually, for serious work I'm using older versions, since the reliability of later versions declined so much, at least for the stuff I want to do. I still think Linux has potential, but Ubuntu is another example of a little engine that couldn't.
The big-donor financial model has two basic constraints. One is that the donor's pockets don't become empty, and it appears he's still got some change. However, the more serious constraint in Ubuntu's case is that the big donor doesn't start calling bad plays, and his calls started going bad a couple of years ago. Basically he listened to programmers who wanted to do flashier stuff and ignored users who wanted a practical alternative to Windows and Apple junk.
Maybe my taste is flawed, but I think Microsoft has awful products, and Apple has an awful anti-freedom philosophy. However their economic models work. Near as I can tell, the best Linux-related economic models are just barely managing to avoid collapsing, even after years of producing superior software with a superior philosophy.
My suggestion is for a small-donor-driven funding model. Imagine something like a stock market, but with charity shares recognizing sponsorship rather than for-profit ownership. Basic idea is the 'charity brokerage' helps with preparing the proposals (including planning for testing and evaluation of the results) and when enough donors like an idea, the money for that project starts flowing. (A viral version of it is described as 'reverse auction charity shares' somewhere on the web.) Basic idea is similar to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but with more support for project management...