March 9, 2015

Ceph Open Source Storage Grows With Red Hat Backing

Editor's Note: This article is paid for by Red Hat as a Diamond-level sponsor of the Linux Foundation's Vault storage conference and was written by Linux.com.

Ceph logoThe Ceph open source software-defined storage platform is taking over the world. Or, at least, it's taking over Red Hat's enterprise offerings – and its competitors' as well.

In the past few weeks we've seen Ceph become an integral part of Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 6 and the latest update of its core enterprise operating system, RHEL 7.1, as well as a key consulting area in its newly announced Cloud Innovation Practice.

SUSE also just announced its own enterprise storage service based on Ceph, available with SUSE OpenStack Cloud or as a stand-alone solution.

And the coming weeks are likely to bring more news from Red Hat around a Ceph-based product that will “give a customer everything they need to deploy a business-critical storage infrastructure,” says Ranga Rangachari, vice president and general manager for Red Hat's Storage and Big Data solutions.

“In our view the Ceph community is growing unabated in terms of enthusiasm and the level of cooperation that's going on,” Rangachari said.

Ceph grows With Red Hat

All of this is happening within a year of Red Hat's $175 million acquisition of Inktank, the company that, until recently, was doing most of the development on the open source Ceph project as well as offering commercial support.

Ceph is now seeing an accelerating growth in community contributions beyond its core engineering team from companies such as Intel, Yahoo, CERN, Deutsche Telecom, and Mellanox said Sage Weil, a co-founder of Inktank, creator of the Ceph project, and now Ceph's principal architect at Red Hat.

This acceleration is, in part, due to its association with Red Hat, Weil said. The technology's future seems more certain with Red Hat's resources and endorsement behind it than when it was backed by a startup, he said, and for good reason.

“There's a lot more testing and a lot more quality because the bar for Red Hat products is higher than a startup,” Weil said. “There's a lot of work going into performance and overall stability and we're more conservative about declaring something ready to go.”

Somewhat paradoxically, Red Hat competitors are also more likely to contribute their own engineering resources to the project, rather than rely on Red Hat's internal team to do the heavy lifting on features competitors need for their own products, he said.

Ceph grows with Software-Defined Storage

But the 10-year-old project was also gaining momentum long before Red Hat's acquisition, along with the rise of software-defined storage (SDS) – the fastest-growing segment of the storage market, according to a 2014 study by IDC.

SDS revenue IDC

“Two years ago SDS was experimental, now it's mainstream,” Rangachari said. “It's growing seven times faster than than the overall storage market and we're right in the middle of that.”

Ceph is now the most popular storage back-end for OpenStack -- the open source technology behind some of the largest enterprise cloud deployments. This is one of the main reasons that companies like SUSE have chosen to integrate Ceph into their own products: It's a solid, highly extensible storage solution that works well in distributed systems.

SUSE announced its intention to produce a storage product based on Ceph at SUSECon 2013 and has been tracking the technology for more than 5 years, said Jason Phippen, head of global product marketing at SUSE in a recent interview with Linux.com.

“Ceph is not a Red Hat project, it is an Open Source project that originated from the community,” Phippen said. “Together SUSE, Red Hat and others contribute to the Ceph project to define the future of Distributed Software Defined Storage.”

Such community participation, even among competitors, and a strong surrounding ecosystem are the hallmarks of a successful open source project.

“It's ultimately why open source will be crazy transformational to the storage industry,” Weil said. “It's easy to do these integrations – you can do it without going through the process of partnership with somebody. All the code is out there.

“The end goal is really about a better value proposition for the customer,” he said. “So instead of buying something wrapped in tin, the hardware with the sticker on it, you have an entire ecosystem of options for your storage.”  

Click Here!