File and Object Storage

 View Only

IBM Storage Ceph and data protection operational capabilities

By Marcel Hergaarden posted Thu March 30, 2023 08:24 AM



What is IBM Storage Ceph
IBM Storage Ceph is a distributed, enterprise-grade universal storage, proven at scale
Open source, massively scalable, software-defined storage solution, based on Ceph.
IBM Storage Ceph is built on a scalable architecture, highly resilient, with no single points of failure and preferably runs on industry standard X86 server hardware.
A basic IBM Storage Ceph cluster is composed out of Monitor nodes (MON) and Object Storage Daemon (OSD) nodes. 

Is the Reliable Autonomous Distributed Object store, being accessed through a library, named Librados.

Ceph overview

About Ceph data protection
IBM Storage Ceph offers multiple options for asynchronous data replication for either Object, file- and block volumes for a variety of use cases. 
Although IBM Storage Ceph offers snapshot functionality, data remains to be on-site.
To resolve for a site loss, data replication capabilities can be used to have data- or selected subsets of data available at alternative site locations.

Data protection applications
asic functionality of a data protection application is to ensure availability of data by safeguarding data which lives within IT environments. This can vary from operating system data to application specifics and business data in different ways.

Safeguarding of data is one aspect, but it needs to be able to be recovered, this could also mean only partial data or selective to a certain time and date or version.
Data protection applications in general often have additional sophisticated features and functionalities but in essence, it generally comes down to safe store and recovery of data.

Basic data protection and recovery operations

Data protection use cases
IBM Storage Ceph can be purposed as a target store for backup and/or archive data but can also be the source of data being accessed by a data protection application. This article describes these both use cases in short.

Use case 1 - IBM Storage Ceph as a data target store
Most data protection applications have an ability to write to a disk library, by providing a data path to the storage resource. IBM Storage Ceph is a unified storage solution, which means that it can provide both Object, File and Block storage.

The data path interface can be S3, NFS or CephFS (using native linux kernel driver).
This is where backup data could be written to and read from.
Storage capacity can scale linearly according to clients needs: it can be expanded online according to needs, even while under load.

Backup target

Besides hosting backup data, IBM storage Ceph could also provide resilient disk storage for the database of the data protection application, if desired.
With this, clients can build a flexible and isolated backup data environment, which is separated from their regular production storage environment, with additional capabilities for replication. Although Data protection software may often offer replication capabilities, these may perhaps require additional licensing cost and the data protection software by itself can also be subject to loss, in case a complete site disaster would occur.


When the software and data protection application database, eventually combined with a DR backup is replicated to an off-site location, then the client has an additonal assurance. On the remote site, all required components for restore can be made available, by rebuilding the data protection software and then continue to restore data stored on IBM Storage Ceph.

Use case 2- IBM Storage Ceph as data source
In this scenario, the IBM Storage Ceph cluster holds data that is subject to backup by an external data protection application.
While IBM Storage Ceph is a unified storage solution, we'll look at the 3 storage personalities Object, File and Block.

Object storage backup
Backup and archive applications can connect with a Rados Object Gateway by AWS compatible S3 or NFS to approach the object data. This way object data can be safeguarded.

Object backup

Filesystem backup
Backup and archive applications can connect with CephFS filesystems. This way desired file data can be safeguarded. Currently this can be realized by using the CephFS native client. In future releases of IBM Storage Ceph, CephFS will also become approachable through NFS.

File backup

Block volume backup
Backup and archive applications can safeguard Block data with the Rados Block Device (RBD) Export/Import feature. This feature offers a file format of an RBD image or snapshot, a sparse format for the full image.

Block backup

Incremental backup policies can be configured for RBD images, with this export/import feature. 
Recovery of block images is executed in the opposite way–using the build-in import option for RBD volume.

Snapshot integration
Data protection applications can interact with the IBM Storage Ceph storage cluster to trigger and mount snapshots for backup by leveraging Pre- and Post scripts in the backup application.

Future feature: IBM Storage Ceph Archive zone
Rados Object Gateway (RGW) Archive zone makes use of multi-site replication and S3 object versioning, the Archive zone will keep all versions of the object available even when deleted in the production site.

Archive Zone

Versioning is enabled in all buckets in the RGW archive zone. 
Every time a user uploads a new object, this object is asynchronous replicated to the archive zone.
When an object is modified, a new version is generated in the archive zone and when an object is deleted, the object is remains kept in the archive zone.
This mechanism can save clients for logical failures. in example, accidental deletion of a bucket in the Production zone.

Why IBM?
Data matters. When planning high performance infrastructure for new or existing applications it’s easy to focus on compute resources and applications without proper planning for the data that will drive the results for the applications. Our products are all about solving hard problems faster with data. IBM helps customers achieve business value with a clear data strategy. Our strategy is simple, unlock data to speed innovation, de risk data to bring business resilience and help customers adopt green data to bring cost and energy efficiencies. Value needs to be delivered by connecting the multiple organizational data sources with business drivers to create business value that mean something to the organization. Many organizations focus on a single driver with a storage solution, but the best solution is driven by an infrastructure strategy than can accomplish most if not all the drivers for maximum benefits. Our story is not just about another storage product but is about innovation and a storage portfolio that is powered by our global data platform.

For further information on IBM Storage Ceph please visit

IBM Storage Ceph product documentation