The Ceph Foundation and Building a Community: an Interview with SUSE

On November 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany, the Linux foundation formally announced the Ceph Foundation. Present at this same summit were key individuals from SUSE and the SUSE Enterprise Storage team. For those less familiar with the SUSE Enterprise Storage product line, it is entirely powered by Ceph technology.

With Ceph, data is treated and stored like objects. This is unlike traditional (and legacy) data storage solutions, where data is written to and read from the storage volumes via sectors and at sector offsets (often referred to as blocks). When dealing with large amounts of large data, treating them as objects is the way to do it. It's also much easier to manage. In fact, this is how the cloud functions—with objects. This object-drive model enables Ceph for simplified scalability to meet consumer demand easily. These objects are replicated across an entire cluster of nodes, giving Ceph its fault-tolerance and further reducing single points of failure. The parent company of the project and its technology was acquired by Red Hat, Inc., in April 2014.

I was fortunate in that I was able to connect with a few key SUSE representatives for a quick Q & A, as it relates to this recent announcement. I spoke with Lars Marowsky-Brée, SUSE Distinguished Engineer and member of the governing board of the Ceph Foundation; Larry Morris, Senior Product Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage; Sanjeet Singh, Solutions Owner for SUSE Enterprise Storage; and Michael Dilio, Product and Solutions Marketing Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Petros Koutoupis: How has IBM's recent Red Hat, Inc., acquisition announcement affected the Ceph project, and do you believe this is what led to the creation of the Ceph Foundation?

SUSE: With Ceph being an Open Source community project, there is no anticipated effect on the Ceph project as a result of the pending IBM acquisition of Red Hat. Discussions and planning of the Ceph foundation have been going on for some time and were not a result of the acquisition announcement.

PK: For some time, SUSE has been fully committed to the Ceph project and has even leveraged the same technology in its SUSE Enterprise Storage offering. Will these recent announcements impact both the offering and the customers using it?

SUSE: The Ceph Foundation news is a validation of the vibrancy of the Ceph community. There are 13 premier members, with SUSE being a founding and premier member.

There are more than 30 total members, which include a number of customers. While the development will still be driven by the Ceph technical community (and managed by the Ceph Leadership Team), the foundation will assist in promoting Ceph. Funding via the foundation will help accelerate Ceph awareness in the industry, community infrastructure, events, outreach, and community inclusiveness and diversity by way of scholarships, travel assistance and so on.

This news also serves as proof that Ceph is now a broadly accepted storage solution. The foundation will have a positive impact on the Ceph offerings themselves, for example, SUSE Enterprise Storage in both feature creation and customer adoption.

PK: What role(s) or involvement do you believe that SUSE will play in the Ceph Foundation?

SUSE: SUSE's contributions to the Ceph open-source project have continuously grown. SUSE now has eight of the top 20 contributors to the Ceph project. This trend is anticipated to continue for the next upstream release, Nautilus, and beyond. Our contribution has primarily focused on core functionality, usability, user interfaces, orchestration interfaces and release management. In addition to many of our engineers being appointed to the technical leadership team, SUSE is represented by Lars Marowsky-Brée, Distinguished Engineer, on the Ceph Foundation governing board.

SUSE: What does SUSE have in store for both its users/customers and the Open Source community as it relates to Ceph?

SUSE: We have demonstrated our expertise in bringing innovative features to the market with our previous releases of Ceph. We were the first to market with iSCSI, BlueStore, CephFS and a sophisticated management user interface, and now with SUSE Enterprise Storage v5.5, we have also launched CIFS for Windows connectivity. This will continue as we are planning an innovative set of features with our upcoming releases. SUSE will continue to focus on enhanced Ceph usability and orchestration, heterogeneous interoperability, availability and efficiency, as we focus on making Ceph enterprise consumable for IT customers worldwide. SUSE remains committed to open-source collaboration and has expanded our Ceph engineering investment exponentially and will maintain this momentum going forward.

Petros Koutoupis, LJ Editor at Large, is currently a senior performance software engineer at Cray for its Lustre High Performance File System division. He is also the creator and maintainer of the RapidDisk Project. Petros has worked in the data storage industry for well over a decade and has helped pioneer the many technologies unleashed in the wild today.

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