The importance of Ceph -- the open source, massively scalable distributed storage system -- to commercial solutions for cloud computing and Big Data has become yet clearer with the announcement of a partnership between Inktank and Citrix to integrate Ceph into the latter company's CloudPlatform system. Read on for details.

Inktank, a commercial entity that offers support services for Ceph, grabbed headlines last month when former Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth bet $1 million of his own money on the company's future. The announcement Thursday of Inkank's partnership with Citrix is a sign that Shuttleworth's investment may have been well-placed. By integrating Ceph into Citrix CloudPlatform, the deal promises to create significant new opportunities for capitalizing on open source technology within the cloud and Big Data channels.

Opening Doors for Ceph

The Ceph distributed storage system has been around for several years. By allowing large amounts of data to be shared across servers and accessed rapidly, it has became a key component of open source Big Data solutions.

But commercial deployments of Ceph are relatively new. Inktank itself was created only in 2012 by Ceph creator Sage Weil to deliver commercial and support services related to Ceph. Until now, no major business partnership involving Ceph had been announced.

With its inclusion into Citrix's cloud computing stack, however, Ceph will now enjoy major market exposure. As Peter Ulander, vice president of Product Marketing for the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix, put it:
Enterprises moving mission-critical applications to the cloud need to know that the infrastructure is capable of near-infinite scaling to store massive data loads, and Ceph’s powerful storage platform provides that functionality. Citrix welcomes Ceph’s inclusion into CloudStack and CloudPlatform, and we are pleased to partner with Inktank to provide enterprise support for Ceph storage for all of our CloudPlatform deployments.
Ceph joins other open source technologies in Citrix CloudPlatform, which is based on the Apache Foundation's CloudStack Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) platform. CloudStack remains in "incubator" status at Apache, which means it remains in rapid development in preparation for a potential future transition to a standard Apache project. Nonetheless, Citrix is clearly already confident enough in CloudStack's future to integrate it into a major commercial product.

It remains to be seen where Ceph and Inktank will go from here. But from the way things look now, Shuttleworth may have made a good bet.