Acquia, the company behind commercial Drupal offerings, has selected Gluster open source storage platform for their hosting needs. Gluster storage platform offers an easy way to manage data on commodity servers within a single namespace. This is the kind of storage solutions SaaS startups want to have as they offer good performance at a much lower cost. Being an open source platform is a plus because when a startup trusts their storage needs on a relatively smaller vendor, open source offers the kind of insurance that will ensure business continuity.

The Problem:
After Drupal became wildly successful, the person behind the open source software lured some of the Drupal developers to start a company by name Acquia that offers commercial support for Drupal. As cloud computing gained stream and, in particular, as SaaS became part of organizations workflow, Acquia saw an opportunity to offer Drupal as a SaaS offering. Moreover, Drupal’s wild popularity meant that they need a reliable and highly scalable storage platform for all their hosting needs including Drupal Gardens
Acquia runs their infrastructure on Amazon EC2. They run multiple webservers and they wanted to share the filesystem with all these webservers. Running on Amazon meant that they cannot use a hardware SAN and they are constrained to work with EBS due to issues associated with other networked filesystems. EBS poses an unique problem of its own. It can be attached to only one webserver and not all of Acquia’s webservers. Since they were already using EBS, they wanted a solution that could help them connect their storage system to all their webservers running on EC2.
Gluster Solution:
Gluster, the commercial company behind the open source storage platform, talked about how Acquia used their platform to achieve higher levels of reliability and scalability. They took the Gluster platform and ran on top of several EBS blocks. This gave them the necessary high availability ensuring that when any of their updates breaks a server, it doesn’t take down the file storage. Prior to adopting Gluster, Acquia considered s3fs, NFS and AFS but they lacked some of the features they wanted like
  • s3fs offers no locking
  • NFS goes down even when one of their servers go down
  • AFS is not highly available to meet their needs
Moreover, they needed a POSIX compliant file system as Drupal expects POSIX support. Gluster platform fits very well with their needs. Moreover, Gluster platform runs on top of commodity servers and, in fact, seamlessly integrates with EC2. The fact that Gluster platform is open source and runs on commodity servers offeres tremendous cost savings for companies of all sizes and shapes while offering the high availability and reliability expected in the modern day IT 
CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by
Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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