Ceph Days are a series of regular events in support of the Ceph open source community. They now occur at locations all around the world. In November, R@CMon hosted Australia’s first Ceph Day. The day hosted 70-odd guests, many of which were from interstate and a few from overseas. There participants were from the research sector, private industry and ICT providers. It was a fantastic culmination of Australia’s growing Ceph community.
If you don’t already know, Ceph is basically an open-source technology for software-defined cluster-based storage. It means our storage backend is essentially infinitely scalable, and our focus can shift to the access mechanisms for data.
Check out the promo:
R@CMon has pioneered the adoption of Ceph for accessible research data storage and at mid-2013 was the first NeCTAR Research Cloud node to provide un-throttled volume storage. R@CMon has also worked closely with was InkTank and now Redhat to develop the support model for such an enterprise (see Ceph Enterprise – a disruptive period in the storage marketplace).
The day began with the Ceph Community Director – Patrick McGarry. His presentation included information about the upcoming expanded Ceph metrics platform, what the Ceph User Committee has been up to, new community infrastructure for a better contributor experience, and revised open source governance.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was the joint talk given by R@CMon’s very own director – Steve Quenette and technical lead – Blair Bethwaite. Here we explain Ceph in the context of the 21st century microscope – the tool each researcher creates to do modern day research. We also explain how we technically approached creating our fabric.
Recently R@CMon signed an agreement for Inktank Ceph Enterprise (aka ICE). Inktank is an open-source development and professional services company that spun out of DreamHost two years ago. And boy have they have been pretty busy since then – not only building an international open-source community around Ceph, but also solidifying the product through several major releases in conjunction with exploring enterprise support business models. It’s both the innovation rate and the professional maturity that drew us to Ceph. The next release of ICE (due this month) includes support for Erasure Coding (think distributed RAID) and cache-tiering (think SSD performance for near spinning-disk cost)!
The R@CMon – Ceph journey began in September last year where we introduced block storage based on Ceph to the NeCTAR Research Cloud. Others have been paying attention too and now several other NeCTAR Nodes (NCI, TPAC and QCIF so far) are using Ceph to meet their block storage needs. Monash now has just shy of 400TB raw capacity colocated with the monash-01 compute zone/cell and another 500TB coming with monash-02 deployment. With other developments in the pipeline we expect to have well over 1PB of storage managed by Ceph by the end of the year!
One of the things that came with the release of ICE was a closed-source management tool, Calamari, which provides the sort of graphical status, monitoring and configuration dashboard you might expect from “enterprise” software (how that term makes us cringe!). Calamari is starting to look pretty slick and is certainly one piece of the puzzle transitioning a storage solution adopted and built in the eResearch Healthy Hot-House environment to a robust service delivery practice – getting woken up at 2am in the morning if a storage node dies is not in my contract!
Calamari OSD Workbench
Not long after we’d signed up for ICE, Inktank was acquired by Red Hat for a cool $175mil. This announcement was surprising in that it was unexpected – Red Hat already has an iron in the software-defined storage fire in Red Hat Storage Server (GlusterFS wearing a fedora). But once digested this appears to be a very astute move by Red Hat as Ceph has been the sweetheart of storage for OpenStack deployers, thanks largely to its ability to converge object/block/filesystem, something that took the NAS-oriented Gluster a while to catch up on. It seems Red Hat now have a firm grip on software-defined storage!
Red Hat’s acquisition of Inktank is good news for us as it will ultimately mean a supported version of Ceph on an enterprise Linux distribution we have a broad skills base in, with local technical support personnel to back it all up, and in a much shorter timeframe than Inktank could have delivered on its own. And true to their upstream-first philosophy, Red Hat has already open-sourced Calamari.
It’s an exciting and disruptive period in the storage market!