Choosing a Ceph Solution: One phenomenal Open technology with two great contenders

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SUSE and Red Hat: Enterprise contenders in the Ceph space

You have considered all the distributed storage options and have decided on a solution: Ceph—the powerful, open-source, self-healing, clustered solution with support for block, object, and filesystem storage environments.

You are ready to set up your efficient and highly reliable Ceph cluster. Your next step? Find a Ceph vendor. Several companies offer products and services in the Ceph space, but the spotlight often falls on two leading enterprise Linux vendors who are also leaders in the enterprise storage space: SUSE and Red Hat.

This paper offers some thoughts on how to compare these leading Ceph enterprise products and decide on a best-fit solution for your organization.

Beyond the Code

SUSE Enterprise Storage and Red Hat’s Ceph product are both based on source code provided by the open source Ceph project (www.ceph.com). You don’t need to purchase a product from Red Hat, or SUSE, or anyone else, to work with Ceph. In theory, you could actually download Ceph and set it up yourself. In the world of open source, all changes made to the code are shared with the community to benefit all versions and future releases of the software. For this reason, no company ever has exclusive use of an open source codebase. Instead, contributions can come from multiple sources, and all users benefit from all the changes.

For instance, Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, used to work for a company called Transmeta, but dozens of other companies simultaneously produced Linux distributions. Brian Behlendorf, original developer of the Apache web server, works for an investment firm in San Francisco, but hundreds of companies now offer products and services around the Apache web server environment.

Because all vendors have access to the code, open source companies like SUSE and Red Hat base their business around integration and support services, including:

  • Service agreements
  • Certification of hardware products
  • Integration with the Linux stack and network environments

The SUSE team has a long history of providing professional support services for enterprise customers. SUSE was founded in 1992, and SUSE Linux is one of the oldest and most enterprise-focused Linux distributions. SUSE Enterprise Linux was developed through SUSE’s association with Novell, a company that has been synonymous with enterprise networking since the early 1980s.  SUSE brings its long history of enterprise support to the Ceph space with SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Shopping for Ceph

All Ceph products provide the same core Ceph system. When you are shopping for a Ceph solution, the most important question is, does the vendor to provide enterprise-quality services and support for an affordable price?

When you shop for a Ceph solution, consider all the following:

  • price—does the total cost of the solution compare favorably with other top-of-the-line competitive products?
  • contribution—does the vendor participate actively in the Ceph community?
  • enterprise support—does the vendor have a history of successfully supporting enterprise infrastructures?
  • tools—does the solution provide an advanced toolkit for practical management and deployment?
  • integration—Does the solution offer seamless integration with existing network resources and provide an opportunity for future expansion?
  • certification—does the vendor have a comprehensive program for hardware certification?
  • OpenStack—a large number of potential customers are considering Ceph because it is the leading storage system for OpenStack infrastructures. If you are planning for Ceph because you are building your network around OpenStack, does the vendor offer a competitive, comprehensive program for OpenStack support? SUSE extends its legacy of enterprise Linux expertise to the Ceph distributed storage environment with SUSE Enterprise Storage. In addition to extensive hardware certification resources and proven experience with professional support, SUSE is an active participant in the Ceph development community. The SUSE team took the lead on building the Ceph’s iSCSI interface, which adds direct support for Windows and VMware clients to the Ceph framework. SUSE Enterprise Storage 3 is the first Ceph implementation to include support for the new Ceph “Jewel” release. SUSE also specializes in OpenStack and has a ready network of seasoned experts available for assisting with OpenStack deployments.

Next Steps

Big decisions start with small steps. Compare SUSE Enterprise Storage with Red Hat’s Ceph solution (or any other Ceph-based product) in your test environment and choose the solution that offers the best:

  • support services
  • integration with your existing network
  • support for your hardware environment
  • price

We’re confident you’ll place SUSE Enterprise Storage in the highest tier of leading enterprise storage products.

Conclusion

Open source code is free to everyone, so all products build their services on a similar code base. The real measure of a Ceph solution is the vendor’s capacity for enterprise support, as well as the investment in integration, certification, and management tools. SUSE’s expertise with enterprise Linux, its active participation in the Ceph community, and its emphasis on professional customer service put SUSE Enterprise Storage in the top tier of enterprise Ceph solutions for any growing company with a need for state-of-the-art distributed storage.

Learn more at suse.com/storage

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Jason Phippen
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