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Red Hat unveils storage software

New software for creating communal storage is part of strategy to expand beyond core operating system business.

Linux company Red Hat has begun selling new software for creating a communal storage system that spans many devices in a network--part of its effort to expand beyond its core operating system business.

The software, called Red Hat Global File System (GFS), costs $2,200 annually per server in addition to the price customers already pay for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the company said Thursday. The product came via Sistina Software, which Red Hat acquired earlier this year.

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Also Thursday, Red Hat fulfilled a pledge to release the , selecting the General Public License. GFS had been open-source software for much of its history, but Sistina made it proprietary in 2001 as part of an attempt to boost its financial fortunes, after selling support and service for GFS didn't pan out.

The GFS software lets files be stored in a single file system shared by numerous servers. The information can reside on servers themselves or on a storage area network.

The software is used to speed data access and replicate information so it's still available even if individual machines fail. It's useful for the two conventional types of clusters: groups of machines linked so one can take over for another in case of a problem, and groups linked as part of a sprawling supercomputer.

Red Hat GFS is tuned to work with Oracle's 9i RAC, database software that can spread across multiple clustered machines, and work with Red Hat's cluster software for ensuring services remain available despite computer problems.

The GFS software fits in with the Raleigh, N.C.-based company's effort to expand beyond sales of just the operating system into higher-level software as well.

Red Hat isn't alone in pushing clustered file systems. Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday announced its StorageWorks Scalable File Share product, a server that oversees a single clustered file system distributed across a large number of servers and storage systems. The software employs the open-source Lustre project, is geared for high-performance computing tasks and is used by a 4,096-processor Linux supercomputer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Lustre also is used on a 2,500-processor cluster supercomputer called Tungsten at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Tungsten is currently ranked the fifth-fastest supercomputer.

A Boston company called Cluster File Systems helps develop Lustre and sells service and support for the software. HP works on the software through a contract with several national laboratories.

Another open-source clustered file system comes from Oracle, which in 2002 released the Oracle Cluster File System for Linux, also an open-source project.