Taking the Time to Understand Red Hat Ceph by Rahul Vijayan, Senior Solutions Architect, ASEAN, Red Hat
A Basic Technical Understanding
To truly understand the way in which storage built on Ceph can enable your business, it is important to have a high level technical understanding of its functionality. Ceph is software that provides unified Block, File and Object Storage running on clustered commodity hardware.
Ceph clusters are massively scalable, they are flexible and enable all three types of storage to be managed and distributed across a single cluster.
The Need for Ceph - Background Information
As enterprise technology evolves, traditional approaches to all aspects of the datacentre are changing. The building blocks of the datacentre remain the same in name but little else. We talk about Compute, Storage and Networking but the technology we are using to implement and manage these three core components of the datacentre have changed beyond recognition in the last few years.
The absolute foundation of the datacentre is the storage layer. Managing, moving and protecting data has long been the limiting factor of application management and datacentre architecture. Data Driven Business and Digital Transformation has meant that IT is now being expected to adapt and grow at the pace of business.
Understanding the intricacies of Ceph does require a good understanding of storage technology. However, the reality for a storage administrator is that it’s no more challenging than the understanding they already have for traditional disk arrays. For the IT Director or CIO, the specific technical details are less important than the strong benefits Red Hat Ceph Storage delivers to the business.
Supporting Your Business Needs
The demands on IT to keep pace with the demands of business requires storage that can scale smoothly, with limited management and no disruption. Traditional storage has severe limitations in each of these aspects. Storage built on Ceph meets these demands.
Traditionally IT had time to plan for new computing demands. Lines of business used to accept that waiting times for IT to build new infrastructure to support new business initiatives. Today the business expects to be able to ask for new apps to be delivered in timelines measured by hours or days not weeks or months. Taking time to re-architect storage infrastructure is no longer an option. Ceph eliminates this, it scales by adding commodity nodes into the cluster without disruption.
Enabling a cloud strategy is not feasible with traditional fixed storage. Cloud is critical for flexibility and most companies are looking for choice and flexibility in their cloud strategies. Traditional Array based storage is a limiting factor when attempting to execute such an open strategy. Ceph storage is software defined and based on open standards which facilitate choice across numerous clouds as well as on premise implementations.
Analysts are in agreement that Enterprise Storage budgets are generally flat or declining but the amount of data companies need to store is rising. Building storage infrastructure based on Red Hat Ceph tackles this dilemma. By utilising commodity hardware, the price business pays per TB will reduce. By pooling data across software defined storage Ceph inherently drives better storage utilisation than traditional hardware based arrays.
Because Ceph is a truly Software Defined Storage solution it breaks dependency on storage hardware vendors. Enterprise Arrays from different vendors tend not to work together. Once you settle on a storage hardware vendor they have leverage which can be used to drive higher prices. You can sometimes even be forced to adopt technologies that you may not need or want. By breaking that dependency, companies that invest in Ceph have total flexibility in how they choose to expand and grow their storage into the future.
New and disruptive technology such as Red Hat Ceph only appears complex by virtue of fact that by being new it requires a small learning curve to reach understanding. By contracts, we are already comfortable with older more familiar technologies. In fact, Red Hat Ceph is not actually any more complex than the “old style” physical storage than people are used to.
It’s a new approach developed from the ground up to make storage relevant and effective in today’s software defined cloud enabled datacentre. At the same time, even though hardware based enterprise storage arrays are more “familiar”, they will become increasingly less well suited for datacentres built from software.
Taking the time to understand about Ceph is not just a fact-finding mission, it’s a critical part of every company’s digital transformation.