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Red Hat CEO calls storage interest red hot

Red Hat’s storage platform is still mostly in the testing stage, but CEO Jim Whitehurst said the company took its first six-figure order last quarter and sees a bright future for its software-based clustered NAS.

Whitehurst talked up storage throughout Red Hat’s earnings call Monday, claiming significant interest in Red Hat Storage Server. He doesn’t expect significant revenue until next year but said many customers are running proofs of concepts for storage. He also identified storage as an area where the Linux vendor will heavily invest in, with plans to integrate storage with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) server virtualization platform.

“We’re excited about the potential to disrupt traditional market plays for big data,” Whitehurst said.

He sees Red Hat storage as a low-cost alternative to hardware-based clustered NAS, such as EMC’s Isilon. Red Hat’s storage technology – acquired from startup Gluster for $136 million last year – can’t match Isilon features, but Whitehurst expects it to be enough for many customers.

“The storage space obviously has some well-established, well-regarded vendors,” he said. “But it also looks a lot like Linux did a decade ago with relatively inexpensive solutions. Not all your unstructured data really needs to fly first class.”

Red Hat has already embraced cloud storage with an appliance for Amazon Web Services (AWS) with plans to expand to other cloud providers.

“Not only do we have a significant cost advantage by being software-based,” Whitehurst said, “we also offer huge amounts of flexibility so you can burst up on the cloud and move your data [to the cloud].”

With clustered NAS, storage integrated with virtual servers and cloud storage, Red Hat certainly bears watching as a storage vendor.

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