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Red Hat acquires Permabit for inline deduplication

Permabit's inline compression, data deduplication and thin provisioning software will be integrated with Red Hat Enterprise Linux to help boost performance and lower costs.

Red Hat acquired the assets of data reduction software vendor Permabit this week, around the same time that Red...

Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 became generally available. Permabit's inline data deduplication, inline compression and thin provisioning didn't make it into RHEL 7.4, but Red Hat executives plan to add those features to future releases.

Red Hat on Monday finalized its acquisition of 17-year-old data reduction Permabit for an undisclosed sum. Red Hat plans to incorporate Permabit's data reduction into future commercial distributions of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. RHEL provides the base platform that supports Ceph, Gluster, OpenShift containers and OpenStack cloud storage.

Permabit began as an archiving vendor in 2000. Its first commercial offering in 2004 was Permeon content-addressable storage for long-term data retention. The name changed to Permabit Technology Corp. following a management buyout in 2007, and the company switched its focus to inline data deduplication following the first wave of dedupe products into the market.

Permabit launched its Albireo suite of data efficiency software suite in 2010 aimed at storage array vendors, claiming design wins that included Dell, Hitachi Data Systems and NetApp. It released a Linux-based version of Albireo Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO) in 2016, targeting Ceph and Gluster systems running direct-attached block storage. That makes it a fit for RHEL.

Since Permabit first started selling deduplication software, the technology has gone from strictly for secondary storage to a key enhancement of primary storage. Dedupe and compression allow customers to use less storage for their data, which helps mitigate the cost of flash media.

"It's not a secret that inline data deduplication and compression have made the transition from nice-to-have technologies to something that customers typically expect. Especially with the advent of solid-state drives, getting control of the actual amount of physical storage that's required is important," said Gunnar Hellekson, director of product management for RHEL and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.

Hellekson said 16 Permabit employees will join Red Hat, including Founder and CTO Jered Floyd and Vice President of Product Louis Imershein. Hellekson said Red Hat has not yet decided whether to maintain the Permabit branding and marketing.

We have to wait and see what Red Hat does with the Permabit technology, but boy, I sure do see the potential.
Dave Russellanalyst, Gartner

Permabit's VDO inline data deduplication for Linux gives the integration a head start, said Dave Russell, a distinguished Gartner analyst.

"We have to wait and see what Red Hat does with the Permabit technology, but boy, I sure do see the potential. This isn't a science fair exhibit they're acquiring. Permabit has a mature technology that should make Red Hat a more credible storage supplier," Russell said.

Easing the integration is the fact that Red Hat's engineering team is in western Massachusetts and Permabit's headquarters is in Cambridge, Mass.

Red Hat's Hellekson said the goal is to continue supporting Permabit's existing customers. Still, Permabit's OEM partnerships could be in jeopardy.

"OEMs should assume the Albireo platform is at the end of development," Gartner's Russell said. "The code in their OEM solutions will continue to work, but they should assume that updates and things like compatibility checking may not continue going forward."

Next Steps

Containers, hyper-convergence head Red Hat storage roadmap

How data reduction boosts flash storage

Open source data storage no longer a novelty

Dig Deeper on Primary storage capacity optimization

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