BLOG: IBM Ceph Storage Delivers Hybrid Cloud-Native Storage Capabilities

December 28th, 2022 BLOG: IBM Ceph Storage Delivers Hybrid Cloud-Native Storage Capabilities

Scott Buecker
Storage Engineer


Product Positioning, Delivery, and Support


On October 4th IBM announced that the Red Hat and IBM Storage businesses are coming together as a single group within IBM. Red Hat and IBM have been working closely for many years, and this recent announcement solidifies their partnership and streamlines the combined Storage portfolio. This integration also aims to accelerate IBM’s hybrid cloud storage strategy while maintaining commitments to existing Red Hat customers and the open source community.

One question that has come up many times since the announcement is “how are these products positioned within the IBM Storage portfolio”? The important piece to keep in mind is that for file and object storage, IBM has 3 great offerings that can be tailored to specific use cases, and IBM remains committed to upholding and improving each product – Spectrum Scale, Cloud Object Storage (COS), and now Ceph. Each offering has a unique architecture and target use cases. The following sections address key points on each solution, and what to keep in mind as you evaluate them for a potential fit in your organization’s data center environment. 

Cloud Object Storage (COS)


IBM has offered Software-defined Object (S3) storage with the Cloud Object Storage (COS) solution starting in 2015. It remains the target solution for organizations looking for a Storage Appliance deployment with scalability into exabytes of storage. The primary use case for COS is Backup and Archive workloads that require immense scalability and resiliency across multiple sites. COS can be deployed as a hardware appliance using IBM Certified nodes, as a Service in the IBM Cloud, or using a hybrid approach to protect data on-premises and in the Cloud. Think of COS as IBM’s traditional S3 offering for long term data retention and similar workloads. 

Spectrum Scale


IBM Spectrum Scale is a high-performance clustered file system developed by IBM, also known as IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). Spectrum Scale provides concurrent high-speed file access to applications executing on multiple nodes of a cluster. It can be deployed on AIX, Linux, and Microsoft Windows Server clusters, and can also support a heterogeneous cluster of AIX, Linux, and Windows nodes running on x86, Power, or IBM Z. Scale provides a unified platform for managing file data and allows for multiprotocol access to those files.

Target use cases for Scale are Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) and Analytics workloads. With Scale, we also see customers with large/diverse File infrastructures with data on various File platforms including legacy on-prem, cloud, and on edge. With Spectrum Scale’s Global Data Platform, those customers can access that data no matter where it is physically located or what protocol the application speaks. 



Before we dive into Ceph positioning and delivery as an IBM storage offering, let’s cover a brief history and the open source community that has built and supported it. Red Hat Ceph storage was initially created as a distributed File System with key design points for metadata management (file attributes). Ceph was merged into the Linux kernel (2.6.34) in 2010 and the support company for Ceph (Inktank) was acquired by Red Hat in 2014. This allowed Red Hat to bring Ceph development in-house and provide a Production version of Ceph to enterprises with full support and maintenance. As Ceph evolved there has been a community of support from many organizations including Red Hat, Intel, Canonical, CERN, Cisco, Fujitsu, SanDisk, and SUSE.

It’s also helpful to have a high-level understanding of Ceph architecture and design. Ceph’s software libraries provide client applications with direct access to the reliable autonomic distributed object store (RADOS) object-based storage system. This is the core of Ceph which provides a foundation for many of Ceph’s features, including RADOS Block Device (RBD), RADOS Gateway, and the Ceph File System. In this way, administrators can maintain their storage devices as a unified system, which makes it easier to replicate and protect the data.

Ultimately what Ceph is delivering is a core distributed File System based on Object, that has additional Block and File capabilities built on top of it. With Ceph being software defined and supporting all storage protocols, you can see the power and potential it provides to IT organizations looking for Hybrid Cloud-Native storage capabilities.

Ceph is great for customers wanting a truly software defined storage option natively built on object. It also provides customers an open source storage option that supports S3, File, and Block. And with this transition IBM remains committed to the open source community aspect of Ceph, pushing all development to the Ceph upstream code.

The key positioning point with Ceph is that it targets hybrid cloud use cases and is an excellent choice for organizations that are looking for performance object storage to support Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) workloads and data lake storage on-premises and in the Cloud.

Here are some bullets on what Ceph can deliver:

  • Open source scalable, software defined storage
  • Flexible, scale-out architecture on clustered standard hardware
  • Single, efficient, unified storage platform (object, block, file)
  • User-driven storage life-cycle management with 100% API coverage
  • Storage designed for modern workloads like cloud infrastructure, analytics, AI/ML, and automation

IBM Ceph is a flexible storage solution that provides performance and support for all storage protocols with the flexibility to use commodity hardware or the cloud environment of your choice. Add to that the support of the open source community and IBM’s capabilities in support and delivery of enterprise-class storage products, Ceph provides value for all IT consumers looking for Hybrid Cloud-Native storage. 

Storage Offerings for File and Object


With the inclusion of Ceph into the IBM storage portfolio, IBM now has 3 powerful storage technologies for file and object storage:

1. IBM Spectrum Scale
2. IBM Cloud Object Storage (COS)
3. IBM Ceph 

Depending on your organization’s use case, the unique architecture of each offering will lend itself to a best fit solution. Mainline’s data storage experts are available to assist you with planning, selecting, and architecting the right solution for your enterprise storage environment.

More Information

Mainline is a Platinum level IBM Business Partner – the highest partnership level in the IBM PartnerWorld program. We have heavily invested in the technical skills and certifications necessary to provide the top level of services and solutions to our customers for all IBM hardware and software products, including maintenance and software support services. For further assistance with IBM Storage solutions contact your Account Executive directly or contact us here


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