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Chapter 3. Considering Hardware

Considering hardware is an important part of building Ceph Storage clusters and Ceph Object Gateway clusters for production environments. High-level considerations include:


Consider these factors BEFORE identifying and purchasing computing and networking hardware for the cluster.

3.1. Considering Storage Sizing

One of the most important factors in designing a cluster is to determine the storage requirements (sizing). Ceph Storage is designed to scale into petabytes and beyond. The following examples are common sizes for Ceph storage clusters.

  • Small: 250 terabytes
  • Medium: 1 petabyte
  • Large: 2 petabytes or more.

Sizing should include current needs and the needs of the near future. Consider the rate at which the gateway client will add new data to the cluster. That may differ from use-case to use-case. For example, recording CCTV video, 4k video or medical imaging may add significant amounts of data far more quickly then less storage intensive information such as financial market data. Additionally, consider that data durability methods such as replication versus erasure coding will have a significant impact on the storage media required.

For additional information on sizing, see the Red Hat Ceph Storage Hardware Selection Guide and its associated links for selecting OSD hardware.

3.2. Considering Storage Density

Another important aspect of cluster design includes storage density. Generally, a cluster should store data across at least 10 nodes to ensure reasonable performance when replicating, backfilling and recovery. If a node fails, with at least 10 nodes in the cluster, only 10% of the data has to move to the surviving nodes. If the number of nodes is substantially less, a higher percentage of the data must move to the surviving nodes. Additionally, the full_ratio and near_full_ratio need to be set to accommodate a node failure to ensure that the cluster can write data. For this reason, it is is important to consider storage density. Higher storage density isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Another factor that favors more nodes over higher storage density is erasure coding. When writing an object using erasure coding and using node as the minimum CRUSH failure domain, the cluster will need as many nodes as data and coding chunks. For example, a cluster using k=8, m=3 should have at least 11 nodes so that each data or coding chunk is stored on a separate node.

Hot-swapping is also an important consideration. Most modern servers support drive hot-swapping. However, some hardware configurations require removing more than one drive to replace a drive. Red Hat recommends avoiding such configurations, because they can bring down more OSDs than required when swapping out failed disks.

3.3. Considering Network Hardware

A major advantage of Ceph Storage is that it allows scaling capacity, IOPS and throughput independently. An important aspect of a cloud storage solution is that clusters can run out of IOPS due to network latency and other factors or run out of throughput due to bandwidth constraints long before the clusters run out of storage capacity. This means that the network hardware configuration must support the use case(s) in order to meet price/performance targets. Network performance is increasingly important when considering the use of SSDs, flash, NVMe, and other high performance storage methods.

Another important consideration of Ceph Storage is that it supports a front side or public network for client and monitor data, and a back side or cluster network for heart beating, data replication and recovery. This means that the back side or cluster network will always require more network resources than the front side or public network. Depending upon whether the data pool uses replication or erasure coding for data durability, the network requirements for the back side or cluster network should be quantified appropriately.

Finally, verify network throughput before installing and testing Ceph. Most performance-related problems in Ceph usually begin with a networking issue. Simple network issues like a kinked or bent Cat-6 cable could result in degraded bandwidth. Use a minimum of 10 GB ethernet for the front side network. For large clusters, consider using 40 GB ethernet for the backend or cluster network. Alternatively, use LACP mode 4 to bond networks. Additionally, use jumbo frames, maximum transmission unit (MTU) of 9000, especially on the backend or cluster network. If using jumbo frames, then validate all interconnecting network equipment and nodes are using jumbo frames. If jumbo frames are not configured throughout the full network path, then a mismatch in MTU size will result in packet loss and the possibility of Ceph OSD issues.

Additional Resources

3.4. Considering Uninterrupted Power Supplies

Since Ceph writes are atomic—​all or nothing—​it isn’t a requirement to invest in uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) for Ceph OSD nodes. However, Red Hat recommends investing in UPSs for Ceph Monitor nodes. Monitors use leveldb, which is sensitive to synchronous write latency. A power outage could cause corruption, requiring technical support to restore the state of the cluster.

Ceph OSDs may benefit from the use of a UPS if a storage controller uses a writeback cache. In this scenario, a UPS may help prevent filesystem corruption during a power outage if the controller doesn’t flush the writeback cache in time.

3.5. Selecting Hardware for Use Cases

A major advantage of Ceph Storage is that it can be configured to support many use cases. Generally, Red Hat recommends configuring OSD hosts identically for a particular use case. The three primary use cases for a Ceph Storage cluster are:

  • IOPS optimized
  • Throughput optimized
  • Capacity optimized

Since these use cases typically have different drive, HBA controller and networking requirements among other factors, configuring a series of identical hosts to facilitate all of these use cases with a single node configuration is possible, but is not necessarily recommended.

Using the same hosts to facilitate multiple CRUSH hierarchies will involve the use of logical, rather than actual host names in the CRUSH map. Additionally, deployment tools such as Ansible would need to consider a group for each use case, rather than deploying all OSDs in the default [osds] group.


Generally, it is easier to configure and manage hosts that serve a single use case, such as high IOPS, high throughput, or high capacity.

3.6. Selecting Media for Indexes

When selecting OSD hardware for use with a Ceph Object Gateway—​irrespective of the use case—​Red Hat recommends considering an OSD node that has at least one high performance drive for storing the index pool. This is particularly important when buckets will contain a large number of objects.

The host should have at least one SSD or NVMe drive. In Red Hat lab testing, NVMe drives have shown enough performance to support both OSD journals and index pools on the same drive, but in different partitions of the NVMe drive.

An index entry is approximately 200 bytes of data, stored as an object map (omap) in leveldb. While this is a trivial amount of data, some uses of Ceph Object Gateway can result in tens or hundreds of millions of objects in a single bucket. By mapping the index pool to a CRUSH hierarchy of high performance storage media, the reduced latency provides a dramatic performance improvement when buckets contain very large numbers of objects.


In a production cluster, a typical OSD node will have at least one SSD or NVMe drive for storing the OSD journal and the index pool, which will use separate partitions or logical volumes when using the same physical drive.

3.7. Selecting Media for Monitor Nodes

Ceph monitors use leveldb, which is sensitive to synchronous write latency. Red Hat strongly recommends using SSDs to store monitor data. Ensure that the selected SSDs have sufficient sequential write and throughput characteristics.