RedHat acquired Inktank today for $175M. Kudos to Red Hat for having the insight to see the potential significance of this new class of storage software.
With the values in tech these days the $175M price tag may not seem like a big deal.
But - it is very significant.
First understand that Inktank is not a software company (they help companies deploy an open source product called Ceph). While I am sure they posses key skills and knowledge, I doubt they have a significant patent portfolio. I don't believe they sell any software. They derive revenue by helping customers deploy software the is freely available.
In that light you might say - why did Red Hat pay so much?
I figure they paid up for the same reason that we decided to start Formation. A fundamental change is about to happen in applications and infrastructure that will require a new approach to managing data.
While many will argue that the plethora of "software defined" initiatives at both big and startup companies are also trying to do similar things, this is not true.
The simple way I like to think of it is that most "software defined" products seek to create simplified front-end experience by abstracting the old, complex crap they still want to sell in the backend. Conversely, Ceph offers a new way to store data that is simple on the front-end simply uses commodity HW as the backend.
You might call both solution types "software defined" yet they are as different as night and day. One solution hides complexity and one eliminates it. One solution reduces cost in a big way while the other will require that customers spend more with the hope is reducing "soft" costs over time.
Ceph is innovative because it seeks to both reduce backend complexity while also providing more of a services-based front end connection.
The innovation in storage and data management is about to make a leap that has not seen in the last 25 years. The cost and complexity will change as radically as when the first network strange arrays were introduced.
There are many products calling themselves “software defined” that only seek to mask legacy complexity. The real game changer comes from building a new model for a data platform.