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Red Hat-Sistina combo makes Linux storage-friendly

A storage analyst said Red Hat's planned acquisition of Sistina Inc. accelerates the Linux distributor's push deeper into enterprise data centers.

Red Hat Inc.'s planned acquisition of Sistina Software Inc., which was announced last week, is further evidence of the Linux distributor's intention to concentrate on driving Linux beyond the perimeter and deep into enterprise computing, a storage analyst said.

"This is more of a question of what Red Hat needs to do to compete," said John S. Webster, senior analyst and founder of Nashua, N.H.-based Data Mobility Group.

Webster holds up Microsoft as an example of a company experiencing pain points with storage in the enterprise.

"Windows is not good about addressing storage, in particular network-attached storage and SANs. It can be a pain in the rear," Webster said. "Microsoft is addressing these problems. They understand that if they want to play in the enterprise, they've got to be SAN-friendly.

"The same thing goes for Linux. It has to be storage-friendly. It has to be networked-storage-friendly. That's one thing Sistina's file system technology will allow Red Hat to do. This is a significant move for them."

Red Hat on Thursday announced its intention to acquire the Minneapolis-based storage vendor, for $31 million in cash. The same day, it also announced quarterly revenue of $33.1 million, a 36% year-over-year jump.

The Sistina deal gives Red Hat beefy storage technology, including Sistina GFS, Logical Volume Manager for Linux and Sistina GFS for Oracle 9i RAC.

Sistina GFS is a scalable clustered file system for Linux that is suitable for technical computing shops as well as enterprise implementations. LVM enables enterprise-level disk volume management that groups physical disks into virtual disk volumes. Sistina GFS for Oracle 9i RAC simplifies implementation and management of Oracle 9i RAC systems.

"Red Hat is going to make this part and parcel of its total offering for high-end enterprise customers," Webster predicts. "Sistina's file system is already integrated onto IBM's implementation of Linux on the mainframe. Red Hat sees this as further leverage into mainframe shops."

Sistina developers are lead developers for LVM on the Linux kernel, which was a significant enhancement in the release of the 2.6 kernel last week. Red Hat said in a statement that it plans to make Sistina's technology open source.

"The acquisition of the Sistina technology and world-class development team, in close collaboration with the open source community, will greatly accelerate the availability and advancement of open source storage solutions for the enterprise," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president of engineering, in a statement.

The acquisition also wrapped up a week of purchases and consolidation on the storage front. EMC Corp. kicked off the week picking up VMware Inc., another move that should drive virtualization and Linux deeper into the enterprise.

"The EMC [purchase] was driven by the fact the [VMware] was in play and they had to move on it now or lose it to Veritas, perhaps," Webster said. "And that wouldn't be good for EMC."

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