The Future of HekaFS

A lot of people have asked me about what the acquisition of Gluster by Red Hat means for HekaFS. In the interests of transparency I’m going to share a bit of my thinking on that, but I should be extra-careful to note that none of this represents the official position or plans of Red Hat. These are just my own personal predictions, or even hopes. I can influence the official direction to some extent, but I’m like the tenth guy down the totem pole when it comes to making actual decisions.

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Gluster for Geeks: Building New File Systems with GlusterFS Translators

GlusterFS is a stackable file system with a layered approach that allows developers to easily build new extensions and add new layers to the base file system. Join Red Hat engineer Jeff Darcy as he  walks through the GlusterFS architecture and demonstrates how to get started building new translators. GlusterFS translator contributions in the past have included such things as data encryption, IMAP, FTP, a trash can, and much more. In fact, much of what is considered core functionality of GlusterFS is implemented via translators.

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Taming the BEAST

By now, a lot of people have heard of BEAST, which is an attack against the AES-CBC encryption used in SSL. Some people might also have noticed that the HekaFS git sources include “aes” and “cbc” branches which represent two different implementations of a new at-rest encryption method to replace the weak AES-CTR version that we’re using as a placeholder, and those people might wonder whether we share the BEAST vulnerability. Short answer: we don’t. While Edward’s “aes” branch might implement real CBC, my “cbc” branch does not. Yeah, I know that’s confusing. Simply put, I use some of the “xxx_cbc” entry points for convenience, but only for one cipherblock at a time so there’s no actual chaining involved. One correspondent has already pointed out – correctly – that “cbc” is a misnomer for what’s really tweaked ECB. Our scheme is actually pretty similar to LRW, but it uses a hash and a unique (per file) salt instead of Galois-field multiplication. It was designed to defeat a completely different attack (modification in one ciphertext block leading to a predictable change in the next plaintext block), but it also avoids the guessable-IV flaw that is the basis of BEAST.

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Storage is a hard problem with a soft(ware) solution

My wife and I are both dog people, but we have mixed views regarding another contentious issue: hardware versus software.

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All That . . . And a Pony!

Last night I gave a talk at BBLISA about GlusterFS, HekaFS, and cloud filesystems generally. It was a great time with a great group, and I thank everyone involved. One thing that did come up during the talk had to do with this slide about what I consider to be HekaFS’s most important future feature.

Someone in the audience asked, “Can I have a pony with that?” Everyone laughed, including me. I mentioned that I had actually proposed “PonyFS” as the name for CloudFS, even before the HekaFS debacle. Everyone laughed again. Here’s the thing, though: as ambitious at that agenda might seem, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility. The first three features are common across all of the Dynamo-derived data stores such as Riak, Voldemort, and Cassandra. In the filesystem world, the best known examples of doing something like this are AFS and its descendants such as Coda and Intermezzo. Bayou and Ficus are less well known, and that’s kind of sad. If you’re at all interested in this area, you must read up on those; if you can’t see how Bayou inspired half of the “new” ideas in Dynamo (and thus in all of its derivatives) then read again until you get it. Even the old-school database dullards have done this multiple times. Really, the techniques for doing that part are pretty well known.

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Pictures of an Acquisition

I wanted to share some of the highlights of our pre-acquisition shindig here at Gluster HQ. First off, the cake:

I know what you’re thinking: “Why are ants crawling on that hat?” For GlusterFS, ants signify 2 things:

  1. The elastic hash. Imagine each ant as a piece of information that knows where to go to store and retrieve files. See? No metadata server required!
  2. Figuratively, the ants signify the community, and how each community member, however small, can contribute in material ways

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An Acquisition… What a Show!

As you may have heard by now, Red Hat has announced that they are acquiring Gluster. Here’s just a sampling of reading material on the acquisition from the parties involved:

And here are just some of the press articles I’ve seen today (feel free to add your own favorites in the comments:

As Gluster’s “Voice of the community,” I’m super excited. When I first walked through the doors of Gluster back in May of this year, the first thought that came to mind was, Why haven’t more people heard about this? The technology behind GlusterFS is trend-setting, leading-the-market type stuff, and I immediately set about spreading the news far and wide. In Brian Stevens’ post announcing the acquisition, he specifically referenced our thriving community as a factor, and the fact that many Red Hat customers already use GlusterFS in their data centers.

When it comes to our thriving community, I have to give credit where it’s due – the many engineers, support staff, and long-suffering volunteers who donated their precious time to improving documentation and making life easier for new users. Joe Julian, our star community member, has written a blog post that spells this out in more detail. The fact is, without people like Joe Julian, Samuli ‘samppah’ Heinonen, Louis ‘semiosis’ Zuckerman, Jeff ‘jdarcy’ Darcy, Adam ‘m0zes’ Tygart, Tim ‘Heebie’ Herbert and others, we wouldn’t be where we are today. If you’ve entered the #gluster IRC channel, then you have no doubt benefited from Joe’s efforts – he isn’t lying when he says he made that channel into the friendly place it is today. Joe, Jeff Darcy, and many others have contributed so much to the project because they felt it was worth their time to invest in its success, and we are very grateful for that.

I am very proud of what our community has been able to accomplish, and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to add in the short time I’ve been here thus far. I look forward to many future successes for the participants in the GlusterFS community.


From ‘The Red Hat of Storage’ to ‘The Storage of Red Hat’

Whenever people ask me what Gluster does, I usually answer, “We are trying to be the Red Hat of Storage.” In other words, we are trying to open up one of the last bastions of proprietary and monolithic architectures in IT, by providing a terrific set of open source tools that work with commodity hardware, driving value back into the hands of the operators.

Today, I am pleased to say, “We are now the Storage of Red Hat.” Today, both companies announced that they had signed a definitive agreement for Gluster to be acquired and become part of Red Hat. (See press release for details)

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A Message from the Founders

Dear friends and family of Gluster:

We’ve had a most exciting development: one that is great for customers, community members and everyone else associated with Gluster and…Red Hat.

Yes, Red Hat. Read on for more.

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Red Hat to Acquire Gluster

  • Ushers in New Era of Software-Based Open Storage Platforms to Unify On-Premise and Cloud
  • Adds Scale-Out Management of Unstructured Data to Red Hat Portfolio with Gluster’s Disruptive Open Source Storage Solutions

Raleigh, NC – October 4, 2011 – Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions to the enterprise, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Gluster, Inc., a leading provider of scale-out, open source storage solutions for standardizing the management of unstructured data. With this acquisition, Red Hat will define a new baseline for how enterprise IT manages the explosion of big data, whether deployed on-premise or spanning into the public cloud. Red Hat is expanding into a critical part of enterprise infrastructure, enabling it to deliver open storage solutions that protect customer investments as they approach the new era of computing.

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