If you’ve been following the Gluster and Ceph communities for any length of time, you know that we have similar visions for open software-defined storage and are becoming more competitive with each passing day. We have been rivals in a similar space for some time, but on friendly terms – and for a couple of simple reasons: 1.) we each have common enemies in the form of proprietary big storage and 2.) we genuinely like each other. I’m a Sage Weil fan and have long been an admirer of his work. Ross Turk and Neil Levine are also members of the Inktank clan whom I respect and vouch for on a regular basis. There are others I’m forgetting, and I hope they don’t take it personally!
So you can imagine the internal debate I had when presented with the first results of a Red Hat Storage comparison with Ceph in a set of benchmarks commissioned by the Red Hat Storage product marketing group (for reference, they’re located here). If you saw my presentations at the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong, then you know I went with it, and I’m glad I did. While the Ceph guys have been very good about not spouting FUD and focusing instead on the bigger picture – taking down EvilMaChines, for example – others in the clan of OpenStack hangers-on have not been so exemplary.
I don’t know who, exactly, the Red Hat Storage marketing group was targeting with the benchmarks, but I am targeting a very specific audience, and it isn’t anyone associated with Inktank or the Ceph project. I am targeting all the people in the OpenStack universe who wrote us off and wanted to declare the storage wars over. I’m also a bit tired of the inexplicable phrase that “Ceph is faster than Gluster”, often said with no qualification, which I’ve known for sometime was not true. It’s that truism, spouted by some moustachioed cloudy hipsters at an OpenStack meetup, that rankles me – almost as much as someone asking me in a public forum why we shouldn’t all ditch Gluster for Ceph. The idea that one is unequivocally faster or better than the other is completely ridiculous – almost as ridiculous as the thought that hipsters in early 20th century drag are trusted experts at evaluating technology. The benchmarks in question do not end any debates. On the contrary, they are just the beginning.
I felt uneasy when I saw Sage show up at our Gluster Cloud Night in Hong Kong, because I really didn’t intend for this to be an “In yo’ face!” type of event. I did not know beforehand that he would be there, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have changed my decision to show the results. The “Ceph is faster” truism had become one of those things that everyone “knows” without the evidence to support it, and the longer we let it go unopposed, the more likely it was to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, while we may have common enemies, it has become increasingly clear that the OpenStack universe would really prefer to converge around a single storage technology, and I will not let that happen without a fight.
We’ve radically improved GlusterFS and the Gluster Community over the last couple of years, and we are very proud of our work. We don’t have to take a back seat to anyone; we don’t have to accept second place to anyone; and we’re not going to. In the end, it’s very clear who the winners of this rivalry will be. It won’t be Ceph, and it won’t be Gluster. It will be you, the users and developers, who will benefit from the two open source heavyweights scratching and clawing their way to the top of the heap. Rejoice and revel in your victory, because we work for you.
To see the benchmark results for yourself, see the Red Hat Storage blog post on the subject.
To see the VAR Guy’s take, see this article.