Red Hat Taking Gluster from Open Core to Open Source

Posted on January 26, 2012 By Sean Kerner

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Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) wants to return the Gluster filesystem to its open source roots. Red Hat acquired Gluster for $136 million in October 2011 and is now moving to help further accelerate its innovation.

The GlusterFS project will now have an independent GlusterFS project board that includes members from Red Hat, Facebook, Citrix and Eucalyptus. A key goal of the new board is to help open up GlusterFS to the community and to innovation.

John Mark Walker, GlusterFS Community Manager, explained during a webcast discussing the Gluster roadmap that Red Hat has increased the number of developers working on Gluster. He add that Red Hat has also accelerated the plans that Gluster had for themselves to improve the product and their community relations.

GlusterFS is an open source project, though Walker noted that as a company Gluster had over time, taken an open core model. That's now going to change at Red Hat.

"I'm happy to say that we're turning back the clock and making GlusterFS more like it used to be," Walker said. "We were building our user base but the problem was we weren't doing a good job of being collaborative and externally focused."

Walker added that Gluster was losing its ability to innovate on the edges since it wasn't attracting new eyeballs to the code. Before the acquisition, Gluster had only two external contributors and one of them worked worked at Red Hat.

"We need to grow that and if our goal is to be the software standard for distributed storage, then we need to expand our developers and the people looking at the code," Walker said. "The steps we're taking now are to address that."

Prior to the acquisition, Walker said that GlusterFS wasn't a real open source project, but rather it was more of an open core project. Nearly everyone working on the project was employed by Gluster, and there was a copyright assignment policy that discouraged would-be contributors. The move toward real open source is about letting the innovation happen in the open source world and trusting the community to try new things in the open source project.

"When I say real open source what I'm talking about is increasing the collaboration points," Walker said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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