Inktank logoAs a company, Inktank, one of the open source ecosystem's newest commercial enterprises, is only days old. But it has already made a determined foray into the Linux server market with the announcement this week of integration of the Ceph distributed file system into Ubuntu 12.04. Here's the scoop, and what it says about both Inktank and Ubuntu.

Launched earlier this month, Inktank is the creation of the Ceph development team, led by Sage Weil. Weil started writing the Ceph code in 2004 as part of his Ph.D. dissertation at USC Santa Cruz and continued to develop it after graduating in 2007.

Billed officially as "a self-managing, highly scalable, open source distributed storage system that uniquely delivers object storage, block storage, and POSIX-compatible file storage in one unified platform that runs on commodity hardware," Ceph is among the open source ecosystem's most innovative distributed file systems. Expect it to have major applicability in both the cloud and big-data as those niches evolve.

Ceph, which is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License and was integrated into the Linux kernel in 2010, has long been readily available to Unix server administrators. But with the launch of Inktank, its presence in the enterprise stands poised to grow firmer, since users will now be able to purchase integration and support services for the software.

Ceph and Ubuntu

Inktank's service offers aren't restricted to any operating system platform in particular. But Ubuntu seems to be an important focus of the company, which on May 9 put out a press release touting Ceph's integration into Ubuntu 12.04, the latest long-term support (LTS) version of the popular Linux based operating system.

And that's worth noting. Traditionally, Ubuntu has been most famous as a desktop operating system. Its server version is certainly formidable, and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has been investing heavily in the cloud and other enterprise oriented technologies. But wishful thinking aside, there's little doubt that Ubuntu's market share on production servers has a long way to go to match that of certain other Linux distributions backed by larger companies, like Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The fact that Inktank has chosen to cast an eye on the Ubuntu world first thus stands out as a mark of Ubuntu's momentum in the server world. As a survey of Ubuntu Server users earlier this year revealed, the operating system still has some major room to grow in key areas like the cloud, and Inktank's nod to Ubuntu is a step in that direction.

Of course, the simple inclusion of Ceph packages in Ubuntu 12.04 is not going to revolutionize Ubuntu Server on its own. Nor does it ensure Inktank's success as a commercial venture. But it won't hurt either party, and it sets both on a path that could lead to further collaboration in the future.