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Ceph Storage Basics and How It Benefits Your OpenStack Private Cloud

Mohammed NaserMohammed Naser

Ceph storage is an open source solution that is designed to allow object, block, and file storages from a unified system. Read more.


First things first. We love Ceph storage. It has been a part of VEXXHOST's OpenStack private cloud offering for a while now. Since storage is one of the prime requirements for most enterprises approaching us for OpenStack solutions, here we are, giving you the basics of Ceph and how it will benefit your private cloud.

With its first stable release in 2012, Ceph is the most popular distributed storage solution for OpenStack. What really is it? How does it work?

What is Ceph Storage?

In simple terms, Ceph is a free and open source storage solution that is designed to allow object, block, and file storages from a unified system. Ceph is designed to be self-managed and self-healing. It can deal with outages on its own and constantly works to reduces costs in administration.

Ceph is highly scalable, runs on commodity hardware, and is specifically designed to handle enterprise workloads aiming for completely distributed operations sans any failure points. Ceph storage is also fault-tolerant and becomes so by replicating data. This means that there really are no bottlenecks in the process while Ceph is operating.

The first major stable release of Ceph was Argonaut, which was released in July 2012. Since then, there have been 15 releases within 8 years, the latest in line being Nautilus and Octopus. The next release is titled Pacific, with the date of release yet to be announced.

How Ceph Works

Ceph nodes work by employing five fully distributed and distinct daemons allowing direct user interaction. Here is a look at each of them and what they do.

Ceph Monitors - (ceph-mon) - These cluster monitors help in keeping track of both active and failed nodes.

Ceph Managers - (ceph-mgr) - They work in tandem with Ceph monitors and support external systems in monitoring and management.

Object storage devices - (ceph-osd) - They work in storing the content files.

Metadata servers - (ceph-mds) - They help in the storage of metadata from inodes and directories.

Representational state transfer - (ceph-rgw) - These gateways bring out the object storage layer make the interface compatible with relevant APIs

When one or more monitors and two or more object storage are deployed, it is known as a Ceph Storage Cluster. The file system, object storage, and block devices read and write data to and from the storage cluster. A Ceph cluster can have thousands of storage nodes since the object storage devices store data in such nodes.

Ceph uses an architectural system of distributed object storage within the storage system where data as objects, as opposed to other architectures where data is managed in a file hierarchy. Another aspect worth mentioning is that Ceph's libraries give direct access for users to RADOS (Reliable Autonomic Distributed Object Store) storage system. This feature also lays the foundation for Ceph Filesystem and RADOS Block Device.

Benefits from Ceph Storage for OpenStack Private Cloud

Ceph brings in many great advantages to OpenStack-based private clouds. Here is a look at some of them.

Easy adoption - A shift into software-defined storage platforms can sometimes be complicated. Ceph solves this problem by allowing block and object storage in the same cluster. There is no worry about administering separate storage services using other APIs or tech.

High availability & improved performance - The coding erasure feature improves data availability by adding resiliency and durability. Sometimes, the writing speeds can almost be double the previous backend.

Cost control - Since Ceph runs on commodity hardware, there is no need for expensive and extra hardware. With an OpenStack private cloud from a reliable and reputed provider such as VEXXHOST, the pay-as-you-go structure also contributes to the overall cost control.

Better security - LDAP, Active Directory Integration, encryption features, etc., in place with Ceph can limit unnecessary access into the system.

Interested in knowing more about Ceph storage and secure and scalable OpenStack Private clouds? VEXXHOST has been using Ceph for storage for a long while now, and since 2019, we are a member of the Ceph Foundation. Reach out to the expert team at VEXXHOST, and we can guide you through the process easily. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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