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Case Studies

Swinburne Ceph Upgrade and Improvement

Swinburne is a large and culturally diverse organisation. A desire to innovate and bring about positive change motivates their students and staff. The result is in an institution that grows and evolves each year.

The Challenge

Aptira deployed SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 for Swinburne university a year ago. As SUSE Storage 5 was released, Swinburne wanted to take advantage of its new features like CephFS and Bluestore, so they planned to upgrade to this latest version. The Ceph Filesystem (CephFS) is a POSIX-compliant filesystem that uses a Ceph Storage Cluster to store its data.

BlueStore is a new back end object store for the OSD daemons. The original object store, FileStore, requires a file system on top of raw block devices. Objects are then written to the file system. BlueStore does not require a file system, it stores objects directly on the block device. Thus BlueStore provides a high-performance backend for OSD daemons in a production environment.

As a SUSE partner, we were called in to help them upgrade their existing Ceph storage system and expand it with more storage nodes.

Moreover, Swinburne was concerned about an emerging problem with their Netapp instance, which was soon to be out of warranty, and therefore needed to decommission, and migrate data from Netapp to Ceph.

The Aptira Solution

Aptira’s solution was to upgrade and expand the storage cluster to Storage 5 using DeepSea, which was the tool originally used to deploy their storage 4 cluster. DeepSea is a tool developed by SuSE based on Salt Stack for deploying, managing and automating Ceph.

We set up an environment on our own lab equipment to simulate their environment and test the full upgrade process. This included installing the SUSE storage environment and corresponding services like SUSE manager, local SMT server on Aptira’s own infrastructure (“cloud-q”). On this test environment the full upgrade process was tested and proven to work.

When it comes to Swinburne’s product system upgrade, the base OS of each node was upgraded to SLES SP3 and SUSE Enterprise Storage 4.0 was upgraded to version 5.5. At the same time we did an expansion to both Ceph clusters too. Nine additional OSD nodes were added to each Ceph cluster, which brings the total storage of each cluster to 3 PB.

In addition, Aptira deployed NFS and Samba services on top of CephFS, in order to provide a seamless transition from Netapp to Ceph.

Samba is also integrated with Swinburne’s Windows Active Directory (AD), so users can easily access Ceph storage with their own Windows credentials. Since DeepSea does not allow fully customised installation for Samba and NFS, Aptira have written Ansible playbooks to install Samba and NFS.

The Result

Swinburne’s storage was successfully upgraded to SUSE Storage 5 and their node expansion has been successfully completed as well. Samba and NFS are running as gateways to CephFS.

From the result of some performance tests, they are providing good performance and the users are satisfied. An as-built document was written and handed to Swinburne to conclude this project.


  • Swinburne Case Study 1: We teamed up with SUSE up to build a very high-performing and scalable storage landscape at a fraction of the cost than we would have been able to with traditional storage systems.
  • Swinburne Case Study 2: Swinburne need to set up a massive (think petabyte) storage system for their researchers to store valuable research data.
  • Swinburne Case Study 3: As SUSE Storage 5 was released, Swinburne wanted to take advantage of its new features like, so we planned an upgrade to this latest version.
  • Swinburne Case Study 4: Swinburne wanted to offer a Dropbox-like user experience for staff and students on top of this on-premises storage.

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