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simplyblock and Kubernetes

Simplyblock provides high-IOPS and low-latency Kubernetes persistent volumes for your demanding database and other stateful workloads.

Simplyblock as alternative to Ceph: A Comprehensive Comparison

Updated: Jul 2, 2023


When it comes to software-defined storage solutions, Simplyblock and Ceph are two options worth considering. Let's explore the features and differences between these two platforms to help you make an informed decision for your organization.

Simplyblock: A Next-Generation Storage Solution

Simplyblock is a high-performance, software-defined cluster storage solution built on NVMe and NVMe-oF technologies. It offers block, file, and object storage interfaces and runs on standard x86 server hardware without limitations.

One of the key strengths of Simplyblock is its support for multiple thin storage interfaces, including NVME-oF and iSCSI for block storage, POSIX-compatible file storage, and an S3-compatible object store. These interfaces are provided as thin, container-based solutions that offload functionality into the storage cluster. Although the current stable release focuses on block storage, future releases will expand the supported interfaces.

Additionally, Simplyblock is designed to seamlessly operate in cloud-native environments, enabling hybrid and multi-cloud scenarios. It has already been integrated with Amazon AWS EC2 and EKS, as well as other platforms like OpenStack, OpenNebula, Proxmox, and Kubernetes (via CSI).

The resource efficiency of Simplyblock is outstanding, as evidenced by its high IOPS/CPU-core ratio, efficient raw to effective storage rates, and low CPU consumption for compression and deduplication. This efficiency enables the cluster to achieve ultra-high scalability and ultra-low access latency. Simplyblock can be deployed in both hyper-converged and disaggregated setups, offering flexibility to meet various infrastructure requirements.

Ceph: Unified and Feature-Rich Storage

Ceph is a highly scalable, software-defined storage solution that provides unified block, file, and object storage interfaces. It is widely used in private cloud environments, especially in combination with OpenStack, where it has gained popularity as the go-to storage solution.

Ceph utilizes its own storage driver (rbd) that is integrated into the Linux Kernel and can also be used on other platforms as a third-party driver. It enables seamless connectivity between hosts and the Ceph cluster. In addition to OpenStack, Ceph offers deep integrations with Kubernetes through a separate CSI driver, as well as other platforms.

One of the notable strengths of Ceph is its compatibility with various storage types and interfaces, including HDD, SSD, SATA, SAS, and NVME. It can run on standard x86 server hardware, allowing for flexibility in combining different models, capacities, and vendors to meet specific storage needs.

At the core of Ceph lies the CRUSH algorithm, which is a powerful and decentralized data placement mechanism. This algorithm ensures efficient and flexible distribution of data across the cluster, contributing to Ceph's scalability and fault tolerance capabilities.

Commonalities between Simplyblock and Ceph

Both Simplyblock and Ceph offer unified storage clusters and support integration with platforms like OpenStack and Kubernetes. They provide essential data services such as snapshots, disaster recovery, copy-on-write, disaster recovery (cross-site data mirroring), compression, encryption and de-duplication of storage pools. Both solutions follow a similar hierarchy and offer multi-tenancy capabilities. They can be managed via CLI and provide management APIs. Additionally, they are deployable in hyper-converged or disaggregated models and operate on standard TCP/IP infrastructure and do not require FC or RDMA networking.

Both Simplyblock and Ceph require a management node cluster. In Simplyblock, this cluster is automatically deployed as a cloud-native docker swarm, providing a hassle-free setup. On the other hand, Ceph offers multiple automated deployment options, including Ansible playbooks.

One of the key strengths shared by both solutions is their highly scalable and fully distributed storage cluster architecture. Data placement is policy-based, utilizing failure domains, without relying on a centralized directory. This approach ensures exceptional scalability. Additionally, this architecture enables linear performance scalability, allowing clusters to scale into the multi-petabyte range. Here are some advantages of this cluster technology:

  • Manual balancing of storage utilization or performance demand across systems is unnecessary. By adding nodes, the capacity and performance of the cluster grow linearly, while the cluster algorithms optimally balance capacity and load across all nodes.

  • In the event of a device or node failure, the cluster automatically recovers to a state of full redundancy. There is no need to create RAID groups, manage hot spares, or perform manual recovery tasks. The impact of a device failure on a reasonably sized cluster is minimal, as the cluster seamlessly adjusts to the removal of a device or node by rebalancing load and capacity.

  • Hardware repair, maintenance, and upgrades of devices and nodes are straightforward and safe, with no interruption to operations or significant performance degradation. The cluster architecture ensures that these activities can be carried out without disruptions.

Differences between Simplyblock and Ceph:

  1. Cost/Performance and Performance Density: Simplyblock outperforms Ceph in terms of cost/performance and performance density. While Ceph has average access latencies rarely dropping below 3 ms and an average of about 2,000 IOPS/CPU-core without compression, encryption, deduplication or other data services turned on. That limits the performance density to about 100.000 IOPS per storage node on a physical server with 48 CPU cores, consuming about 500 Watts of power and 1 or 2 rack units. Simplyblock consistently delivers average access latencies well below 100 microseconds and can scale up to approximately 10 million IOPS per storage node. This significant improvement in performance density allows for higher storage capacity and efficiency while maintaining low latency.

  2. Raw to Effective Capacity: Ceph's default setup with three replicas results in a raw-to-effective storage ratio of 3:1. While erasure coding is possible, it increases access latency and CPU load. On the other hand, Simplyblock natively supports distributed striping of data with n+1 and n+2 redundancy levels, enabling a data durability of 99.99999% and data availability of 99.9999% with a raw-to-effective storage ratio of 0.75. Additionally, Simplyblock offers efficient compression and deduplication data services, achieving a raw-to-effective storage ratio of 1:2.5 (for 1 GB of raw storage, 2.5 GB of effective storage are available).

  3. Hardware and Co-Location Costs: Increasing storage capacity density while maintaining performance demand can significantly improve profitability by reducing hardware and co-location costs. Simplyblock's optimized density of storage capacity allows for more capacity on the same hardware, leading to cost savings for cloud service providers. It also reduces the need for expensive instances with local NVMe storage in hyperscaler clouds.

  4. Host Integration: While Ceph uses its own rdb storage driver, Simplyblock exposes storage via NVMe-oF (and iSCSI for compatibility). The entire Simplyblock cluster appears as a single NVMe-oF subsystem, and the scheduling of primary and secondary NVMe-oF target endpoints to initiator hosts is fully automated. This avoids entry point bottlenecks into the cluster, and the open standard of NVMe-oF ensures ongoing driver enhancement and maintenance across different operating systems and virtualization platforms.

  5. Configuration: Ceph offers extensive configuration options, including replication and erasure coding with customizable schemas, multiple back-storage management options, and flexible deployment schemas. In contrast, Simplyblock has limited configuration flexibility, with most decisions automated and deployment options simplified. Users can choose between single node, disaggregated, or HCI cluster deployments, allocate devices to clusters, and select cluster-level security options. Configuration options for pools and logical volumes are limited, focusing on QoS parameters and data services.

  6. Deployments: Simplyblock stands out with its native support for cloud-native environments. It seamlessly runs on AWS infrastructure, leveraging AWS resources efficiently and providing a cost-effective alternative to AWS-native EBS storage. This native integration simplifies deployment and ensures optimal performance within cloud environments.


By considering these advantages, it becomes clear that Simplyblock offers superior cost/performance, performance density, scalability, and cloud-native support compared to Ceph. With its optimized resource utilization and advanced features, Simplyblock is a compelling choice for organizations and cloud builders seeking a high-performance, software-defined storage solution.

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