Storage back end

An OpenStack environment includes multiple data pools for the VMs:

  • Ephemeral storage is allocated for an instance and is deleted when the instance is deleted. The Compute service manages ephemeral storage and by default, Compute stores ephemeral drives as files on local disks on the compute node. As an alternative, you can use Ceph RBD as the storage back end for ephemeral storage.

  • Persistent storage exists outside all instances. Two types of persistent storage are provided:

    • The Block Storage service (cinder) that can use LVM or Ceph RBD as the storage back end.

    • The Image service (glance) that can use the Object Storage service (swift) or Ceph RBD as the storage back end.

For more information about configuring storage back ends for the different storage options, see Manage volumes in the OpenStack Administrator Guide.

This section discusses ways to protect against data loss in your OpenStack environment.

RAID drives

Configuring RAID on the hard drives that implement storage protects your data against a hard drive failure. If the node itself fails, data may be lost. In particular, all volumes stored on an LVM node can be lost.


Ceph RBD is an innately high availability storage back end. It creates a storage cluster with multiple nodes that communicate with each other to replicate and redistribute data dynamically. A Ceph RBD storage cluster provides a single shared set of storage nodes that can handle all classes of persistent and ephemeral data (glance, cinder, and nova) that are required for OpenStack instances.

Ceph RBD provides object replication capabilities by storing Block Storage volumes as Ceph RBD objects. Ceph RBD ensures that each replica of an object is stored on a different node. This means that your volumes are protected against hard drive and node failures, or even the failure of the data center itself.

When Ceph RBD is used for ephemeral volumes as well as block and image storage, it supports live migration of VMs with ephemeral drives. LVM only supports live migration of volume-backed VMs.