Interview: Inktank Joins Forces with Open Source Mainstays Red Hat and OpenStack

Intank Ceph, the open source software-defined storage system, has expanded its offerings and its customer base by supporting new Red Hat and OpenStack products. To get the specifics, we caught up with Ross Turk, Vice President of Community at Inktank.

insideBIGDATA: What is Inktank Ceph Enterprise?

Ross Turk

Ross Turk

Ross Turk: I’ll start with Ceph itself – that’s a big part of Inktank Ceph Enterprise. Ceph is a massively scalable, open source, software-defined storage system that radically improves the economics and management of data management. That’s a mouthful, but in short: it’s software that allows you to build very large storage clusters using everyday hardware. As an open source technology, Ceph is freely available at ceph.com to all.

Launched by Inktank in October 2013, Inktank Ceph Enterprise is a product combining the most stable version of Ceph for object and block storage with a graphical manager, enhanced integration tools, and support services. It is the market’s first enterprise-grade, dedicated Ceph product offering, and it delivers everything enterprises need to confidently run production Ceph clusters at scale.

insideBIGDATA: Who should be paying attention to this technology?

Ross Turk: Ceph is one of a handful of modern technologies that are changing the way people think about storage. Traditional storage solutions typically involve large hardware appliances; technologies like Ceph are software-based, and can be deployed on the hardware of your choice. Storage is rapidly becoming a software thing, not a hardware thing, and will require a different set of skills.  DevOps skills!

I think that today’s storage admins should be paying attention, evaluating whether software-defined storage solutions bring the flexibility and value they’ve been looking for. Modern system architects should also be paying attention, ready to build systems and applications that take best advantage of this new technology.

insideBIGDATA: You utilize Red Hat and OpenStack, two open source platforms. How does these open source communities help Inktank Ceph in the long run?

Ross Turk: Because Inktank was founded by the creators of Ceph, our relationship with the Ceph community is very special! Over the past few years, we’ve been pleased to watch the community become larger and more diverse. We take our contribution to Ceph very seriously, and dedicate the majority of our engineering resources towards the project. Ceph is a transformative technology; with the support from a global community, we believe it can help a lot of people. That’s why it’s important to us that the Ceph ecosystem is broad, made up of individuals and companies of all sizes.

We believe OpenStack is a great use case for Inktank Ceph Enterprise because it requires flexible, adaptable storage. Virtual machine images and volumes need high-performance block storage, and modern web-scale applications require standards-compliant object storage. Inktank Ceph Enterprise can provide all of that in a single cluster, so it’s a great way to show what these new storage platforms can accomplish. Last October the OpenStack User Survey selected Ceph as the top distributed storage solution, which was a great validation!

insideBIGDATA: As far as the Big Data players–What does Inktank offer that others in this space don’t?

Ross Turk: Big Data is just one of the things we see that’s driving this shift in storage architectures. The potential for Ceph in Big Data is huge!

Ceph can be both a complement or an alternative to HDFS, which is the dominant storage system for Hadoop-based systems. Unlike HDFS, Ceph was architected to be able to serve both old and new world use-cases (i.e., file and object) which makes it compelling for companies who are using Hadoop at the center of their business operations.

insideBIGDATA: What is your Inktank University all about?

Ross Turk: Inktank University is a practical training program designed to meet the education needs of Inktank customers and the Ceph community.

We launched this program in response to demand from customers, partners and the community for education about Ceph. We’ve been delivering training since Inktank launched, but this represents a large expansion of our program. The courses, now offered both virtually and in-person, allow anyone to learn the implementation, operation and maintenance of Ceph systems in an instructor-led classroom setting.

insideBIGDATA: May we hear about a recent success story involving an Inktank customer?

Ross Turk: We find that a lot of people who evaluate Inktank Ceph Enterprise as an OpenStack storage solution end up using it for much more than that.

Last year, we worked with a large financial institution in New York on a block storage proof of concept. The POC was successful and led to a fairly sizable private OpenStack deployment backed by Inktank Ceph Enterprise. Then something interesting happened: they wanted to bring the benefits of Inktank Ceph Enterprise to projects beyond just their cloud initiatives.

Recently, they engaged Inktank to port Ceph to additional platforms so it can support an expanded set of legacy workloads. That helps them save money (and it helps Ceph become more powerful and robust at the same time!)

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