This document is for a development version of Ceph.

Balancing in Ceph


In distributed storage systems like Ceph, it is important to balance write and read requests for optimal performance. Write balancing ensures fast storage and replication of data in a cluster, while read balancing ensures quick access and retrieval of data in a cluster. Both types of balancing are important in distributed systems for different reasons.

Upmap Balancing

Importance in a Cluster

Capacity balancing is a functional requirement. A system like Ceph is as full as its fullest device: When one device is full, the system can not serve write requests anymore, and Ceph loses its function. To avoid filling up devices, we want to balance capacity across the devices in a fair way. Each device should get a capacity proportional to its size so all devices have the same fullness level. From a performance perspective, capacity balancing creates fair share workloads on the OSDs for write requests.

Capacity balancing is expensive. The operation (changing the mapping of pgs) requires data movement by definition, which takes time. During this time, the performance of the system is reduced.

In Ceph, we can balance the write performance if all devices are homogeneous (same size and performance).

How to Balance Capacity in Ceph

See Using pg-upmap for more information.

Read Balancing

Unlike capacity balancing, read balancing is not a strict requirement for Ceph’s functionality. Instead, it is a performance requirement, as it helps the system “work” better. The overall goal is to ensure each device gets its fair share of primary OSDs so read requests are distributed evenly across OSDs in the cluster. Unbalanced read requests lead to bad performance because of reduced overall cluster bandwidth.

Read balancing is cheap. Unlike capacity balancing, there is no data movement involved. It is just a metadata operation, where the osdmap is updated to change which participating OSD in a pg is primary. This operation is fast and has no impact on the cluster performance (except improved performance when the operation completes – almost immediately).

In Ceph, we can balance the read performance if all devices are homogeneous (same size and performance). However, in future versions, the read balancer can be improved to achieve overall cluster performance in heterogeneous systems.

How to Balance Reads in Ceph

See Operating the Read (Primary) Balancer for more information.

Also, see the Cephalocon 2023 talk New Read Balancer in Ceph for a demonstration of the offline version of the read balancer.

Plans for the Next Version

  1. Improve behavior for heterogeneous OSDs in a pool

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