Ceph, the open source, software-defined storage platform that is contending for its share of the rapidly evolving market for distributed storage systems for the cloud and Big Data, has chalked up a significant victory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Inktank, the company behind Ceph, partnered with the university's College of Education to deploy a private cloud powered by Ceph, OpenStack and Ubuntu Linux to support research activities.

Mirantis, an OpenStack systems integrator, collaborated with Inktank in the deployment, which the vendors achieved using existing hardware at the university. The private cloud that they built was designed to make it easy for university faculty to deploy new server instances quickly. The infrastructure also ensured data privacy by storing information on-premise rather than in a public cloud.

The deployment grew out of experimentation that IT staff at the university began on their own. The open source nature of Ceph, OpenStack and other parts of the new cloud appears to have been a major consideration. Stephan Fabel, technical lead at the College of Education, University of Hawaii, reported that "With Ceph, we have unlimited flexibility in our topology. Switching from proprietary systems to open source has been so much more collaborative, enabling us to get much more than we hoped from the initial project." He added, "We really like GPL/LGPL licensing, and we believe that 'free' open source means better collaboration."

Inktank is touting the work at the University of Hawaii as "a great example of how higher education can take advantage of OpenStack and Ceph technology to cost-effectively satisfy faculty research compute and storage demand," in the words of CEO Bryan Bogensberger.

The rest of the channel might also take notice, given the tight competition between Ceph and alternative distributed storage systems such as GlusterFS. In fact, the battle lines seem to be growing increasingly firm within the open source world between Ceph, which is closely aligned with Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system, and GlusterFS, whose development Red Hat (RHT) largely sponsors. Even as all parties stand committed to OpenStack as one core part of the open source cloud, the fight to decide which software will provide massively scalable storage remains ongoing.