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Ceph or IBM Storage Ceph, what are the differences?

By Marcel Hergaarden posted 19 days ago


About Ceph
Within today’s open source storage solutions area, Ceph is a very well known software-defined storage solution, widely being used as standalone storage solution, but also within forms of combined solutions alongside with other products and/or solutions. 

What is Ceph?

Let's shortly go back to the basics first, what is Ceph and what does it deliver?

Ceph is an open source distributed software defined storage system designed for modern data storage needs. It can be installed on industry-standard x86 server hardware and provides a fault-tolerant and highly scalable unified storage platform that supports block, object, and file storage. It is suitable for a wide range of applications and workloads.

What is Ceph?

Which Ceph ?
When you run a search query on any random internet search engine on the name “Ceph”, multiple results are returned,, Red Hat Ceph Storage, IBM Storage Ceph. Why are there different providers of Ceph and what are unique specifics of IBM Storage Ceph, are those different versions all the same Ceph?

Upstream Ceph
Let’s start with the upstream community edition of Ceph. This is also often seen as the free edition, which can be used free of charge. The software is immediately available online for download and use. 

Innovation and development
The upstream community edition of Ceph, releases named versions every twelve months and offers incremental updates.
The Ceph community is maintained by the Ceph Foundation. The Ceph Foundation exists to enable industry members to collaborate and pool resources to support the Ceph project community.

The Ceph Foundation is organized as a directed fund under the Linux Foundation that involves a wide collection of members investing in the development and progression of Ceph. Members range from academic institutions and global organizations, including IBM.

No enterprise support with upstream Ceph
With the upstream edition of Ceph, there is no such thing like enterprise-grade technical support.
Consumers of upstream versions of Ceph will need to provide for their own technical support in case a need arises for help.

The Ceph community may perhaps offer online help within web forums or internet communities, however, there are no service level agreements nor guaranteed response times. This kind of support is always based on best effort and without any further defined- and guaranteed response times.
In this type of situations, companies will need to have an internal technical skilled team with sufficient knowledge and insights to address eventual glitches or issues which may impact the business at some point.

This below picture reflects a meaningful analogy.
Indeed, you can go ahead and swim, but be aware, you are on your own and must resolve problems that may occur by yourself without any presence of--nor support from a lifeguard on duty. You can of course try to call out for help, but you will mainly need to be self-supporting in this kind of situation.
(Picture source: Marcel Hergaarden)

No lifeguard

Red Hat Ceph Storage
Red Hat acquired Inktank Ceph in 2014 and released Red Hat Ceph Storage. The main use case for Ceph within Red Hat was storage for Red Hat OpenStack, where Ceph has been-- and still is the most used block storage provider, according to (Survey: 2022)

Red Hat exclusively offers Red Hat Ceph storage in combination with Red Hat OpenStack, where Red Hat Ceph Storage is part of a bundled solution.
Today, Red Hat does not sell Red Hat Ceph Storage for stand alone storage use cases any longer, while Ceph has become an IBM product since the beginning of the year 2023.

IBM Storage Ceph
On the first of January 2023, Red Hat’s Ceph and data services departments have transferred into IBM.
This includes engineering, development and maintenance teams for Ceph storage.

From this point forward, January 2023, IBM is holding, maintaining, and developing IBM Storage Ceph.
IBM Storage Ceph offers enterprise support and services for clients who require stability, updates and services with service level agreements (SLA) for the use of Ceph software defined storage in enterprise level production environments.

IBM Storage Ceph supports stand-alone Ceph storage use cases for Object, Block and File storage. IBM provides regular updates, bug fixes, and feature enhancements ensure that the system remains reliable, secure, and up-to-date. With this, IBM Storage Ceph offers enterprise-grade software defined storage that features an open-source development model.

IBM Storage Ceph Easy
IBM adds enterprise tooling and functionality to IBM Storage Ceph, to facilitate easy consumption in the daily use of this open-source software defined solution.

IBM Storage Insights comes included with IBM Storage Ceph, including additional tooling to make IBM Storage Ceph easy consumable for enterprise use cases. IBM Storage Ceph software is deployed with use of Linux containers, removing the need for managing software packages, versions, and dependencies. 
This container-based kind of deployment for IBM Storage Ceph software is many times faster compared to traditional and typical package-based software deployments. Linux container image updates execute quickly and smoothly.

IBM Storage Ceph comes with a user graphical dashboard UI, and CephAdm, an easy to use command-line utility which also allows for scripting interactions as well.

IBM Storage Ceph easy setup
An IBM Storage Ceph cluster can literally be installed by running one single command. 
With this, executing the installation process of IBM Storage Ceph has become as simple as pressing one button.
A practical demo of this is available in a series of videos, at 

IBM Storage ready nodes
IBM Storage ready nodes are a ready to run solution for IBM Storage Ceph, including hardware and software.
These ready nodes are feasible for all known IBM Storage Ceph workloads.

Deploying IBM Storage Ready Nodes provides a convenient way to get an IBM Storage Ceph cluster setup for production.
IBM Storage Ceph Ready Nodes come in a variety of different capacity configurations and with a well-defined hardware profile which has been optimized for running Ceph storage workloads. No configuration guesswork is needed, enabling businesses for the quickest time to market.
The IBM Storage ready nodes are expected to come available soon, more information is to follow.

IBM Storage Ceph is based on stable versions of upstream Ceph, but adds enterprise tooling and functionalities, including support and enterprise-grade services which makes IBM Storage Ceph easy to consume for enterprises, alongside with 24/7 support and service level agreements.

IBM Storage Ceph stands out as an easy-to-use distributed storage solution with its unified approach, simplified management, and automation capabilities. 
Its scalable design, extensive community support, and enterprise-level reliability make it an ideal choice for organizations seeking a user-friendly and robust storage solution.

IBM storage Ceph offers open source storage that comes with a 'lifeguard': 
Enterprise support, on open-source software defined storage, stable releases, long term support, qualified and tested updates, including IBM Storage Insights tooling. Professional services availability for getting support with installation and commencement of operations.

Next steps and resources

IBM Storage Ceph 

IBM Storage Ceph documentation 

IBM Storage Ceph video demos   

Shift Happens Ceph Cast videos link 


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.

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