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SUSE Enterprise Storage, Ceph, Rook, Kubernetes, CaaS Platform

Rook Best Practices for Running Ceph on Kubernetes

SUSE Best Practices
Blaine Gardner, Senior Software Developer (SUSE)
Alexandra Settle, Senior Information Developer (SUSE)
SUSE Enterprise Storage
Date: May 27, 2020
The document at hand provides an overview of the best practices and tested patterns of using Rook v1.3 to manage your Ceph Octopus cluster running in Kubernetes. Disclaimer: Documents published as part of the SUSE Best Practices series have been contributed voluntarily by SUSE employees and third parties. They are meant to serve as examples of how particular actions can be performed. They have been compiled with utmost attention to detail. However, this does not guarantee complete accuracy. SUSE cannot verify that actions described in these documents do what is claimed or whether actions described have unintended consequences. SUSE LLC, its affiliates, the authors, and the translators may not be held liable for possible errors or the consequences thereof.

1 Overview

Ceph and Kubernetes are both complex tools and harmonizing the interactions between the two can be daunting. This is especially true for users who are new to operating either system, prompting questions such as:

  • How can I restrict Ceph to a portion of my nodes?

  • Can I set Kubernetes CPU or RAM limits for my Ceph daemons?

  • What are some ways to get better performance from my cluster?

This document covers tested patterns and best practices to answer these questions and more. Our examples will help you configure and manage your Ceph cluster running in Kubernetes to meet your needs. The following examples and advice are based on Ceph Octopus (v15) with Rook v1.3 running in a Kubernetes 1.17 cluster.

This is a moderately advanced topic, so basic experience with Rook is recommended. Before you begin, ensure you have the following requisite knowledge:

  • Basics of Kubernetes

  • How to create Kubernetes applications using manifests

  • Kubernetes topics:

    • Pods

    • Nodes

    • Labels

    • Topology

    • Taints and tolerations

    • Affinity and Anti-affinity

    • Resource requests

    • Limits

  • Ceph components and daemons, basic Ceph configuration

  • Rook basics and how to install Rook-Ceph. For more information see https://rook.io/docs/rook/v1.3/ceph-storage.html

In places, we will give examples that describe an imaginary data center. This data center is hypothetical, and it will focus on the Ceph- and Rook-centric elements and ignore user applications.

Our example data center has two rooms for data storage. A properly fault tolerant Ceph cluster should have at least three monitor (MON) nodes. These should be spread across fault-tolerant rooms if possible. The example will have a separate failure domain for the third monitor node. As such, our hypothetical data center has two rooms and one failure domain, with the following configuration:

  • The failure domain is small and can only to be used for the third Ceph MON; it does not have space for storage nodes.

  • Eight OSD nodes provide a good amount of data safety without requiring too many nodes.

  • These eight nodes should be equally separated — four to each data center room.

  • The four nodes are separated in each room into two racks.

  • In the event of a MON node failure, ensure that you can run MONs on each rack for failure scenarios.

The data center looks as follows:

Example Datacenter
Figure 1: Example Datacenter

Now we will dig a little deeper and talk about the actual disks used for Rook and Ceph storage. To ensure we are following known Ceph best practices for this data center setup, ensure that MON storage goes on the SSDs. Because each rack should be able to run a Ceph MON, one of the nodes in each rack will have an SSD that is usable for MON storage. Additionally, all nodes in all racks (except in the failure domain) will have disks for OSD storage. This will look like the following:

Example Datacenter - Disks
Figure 2: Example Datacenter - Disks
Important: Diagrams

Refer to these diagrams when we discuss the example data center below.

2 Introduction

Ceph and Kubernetes both have their own well-known and established best practices. Rook bridges the gap between Ceph and Kubernetes, putting it in a unique domain with its own best practices to follow. This document specifically covers best practice for running Ceph on Kubernetes with Rook. Because Rook augments on top of Kubernetes, it has different ways of meeting Ceph and Kubernetes best practices. This is in comparison to the bare metal version of each. Out of the box, Rook is predominantly a default Ceph cluster. The Ceph cluster needs tuning to meet user workloads, and Rook does not absolve the user from planning out their production storage cluster beforehand.

For the purpose of this document, we will consider two simplified use cases to help us make informed decisions about Rook and Ceph:

  • Co-located: User applications co-exist on nodes running Ceph

  • Disaggregated: Ceph nodes are totally separated from user applications

3 General Best Practices

This chapter provides an outline of a series of generalized recommendations for best practices:

  • Ceph monitors are more stable on fast storage (SSD-class or better) according to Ceph best practices. In Rook, this means that the dataDirHostPath location in the cluster.yaml should be backed by SSD or better on MON nodes.

  • Raise the Rook log level to DEBUG for initial deployment and for upgrades, as it will help with debugging problems that are more likely to occur at those times.

    Ensure that the ROOK_LOG_LEVEL in operator.yaml equals DEBUG.

  • The Kubernetes CSI driver is the preferred default but ensure that in operator.yaml the ROOK_ENABLE_FLEX_DRIVER remains set to false. This is because the FlexVolume driver is in sustaining mode, is not getting non-priority bug fixes, and will soon be deprecated.

  • Ceph’s placement group (PG) auto-scaler module makes it unnecessary to manually manage PGs. We recommend you always set this to enabled, unless you have some need to manage PGs manually. In cluster.yaml, enable the pg_autoscaler MGR module.

  • Rook has the capability to auto-remove Deployments for OSDs which are kicked out of a Ceph cluster. This is enabled by: removeOSDsIfOutAndSafeToRemove: true. This means there is less user OSD maintenance and no need to delete Deployments for OSDs that have been kicked out. Rook will automatically clean up the cluster by removing OSD Pods if the OSDs are no longer holding Ceph data. However, keep in mind that this can reduce the visibility of failures from Kubernetes Pod and Pod Controller views. You can optionally set removeOSDsIfOutAndSafeToRemove to false if need be, such as if a Kubernetes administrator wants to see disk failures via a Pod overview.

  • Configure Ceph using the central configuration database when possible. This allows for more runtime configuration flexibility. Do this using the ceph config set commands from Rook's toolbox. Only use Rook’s provided ceph.conf to override ConfigMap when it is required.

4 Limiting Ceph to Specific Nodes

One of the more common setups you may want for your Rook-Ceph cluster is to limit Ceph to a specific set of nodes. Even for co-located use cases, you could have valid reasons why you must not (or do not want to) use some nodes for storage. This is applicable for both co-located and disaggregated use cases. To limit Ceph to specific nodes, we can Label Kubernetes Nodes and configure Rook to have Affinity (as a hard preference).

Label the desired storage nodes with storage-node=true. To run Rook and ceph daemons on labeled nodes, we will configure Rook Affinities in both the Rook Operator manifest (operator.yaml) and the Ceph cluster manifest (cluster.yaml).



For Rook daemons and the CSI driver daemons, adjust the Operator manifest. The CSI Provisioner is best started on the same nodes as the other Ceph daemons. As above, add affinity for all storage nodes in cluster.yaml:

          - matchExpressions:
              - key:storage-node

5 Segregating Ceph From User Applications

You could also have reason to totally separate Rook and Ceph nodes from application nodes. This falls under the disaggregated use-case, and it is a more traditional way to deploy storage. In this case, we still need to Section 4, “Limiting Ceph to Specific Nodes” as described in the section above, and we also need some additional settings.

To segregate Ceph from user applications, we will also label all non-storage nodes with storage-node=false. The CSI plugin pods must run where user applications run and not where Rook or Ceph pods are run. Add a CSI plugin Affinity for all non-storage nodes in the Rook operator configuration.


In addition to that, we will set Kubernetes Node Taints and configure Rook Tolerations. For example, Taint the storage nodes with storage-node=true:NoSchedule and then add the Tolerations below to the Rook operator in operator.yaml:

  - key:storage-node
  - key:storage-node
  - key:storage-node

Also add a Toleration for all Ceph daemon Pods in cluster.yaml:

      - key:storage-node

6 Setting Ceph CRUSH Map via Kubernetes Node Labels

A feature that was implemented early in Rook’s development is to set Ceph’s CRUSH map via Kubernetes Node labels. For our example data center, we recommend labelling Nodes with room, rack, and chassis.

As a note, Rook will only set a CRUSH map on initial creation for each OSD associated with the node. It will not alter the CRUSH map if labels are modified later. Therefore, modifying the CRUSH location of an OSD after Rook has created it must be done manually.

For example, in our hypothetical data center, labeling nodes will look like the following:

# -- room-1 --

kubectl label node node-1-1-1 topology.rook.io/room=room-1
kubectl label node node-1-1-1 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-1-1
kubectl label node node-1-1-1 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-1-1-1

kubectl label node node-1-1-2 topology.rook.io/room=room-1
kubectl label node node-1-1-2 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-1-1
kubectl label node node-1-1-2 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-1-1-2

kubectl label node node-1-2-1 topology.rook.io/room=room-1
kubectl label node node-1-2-1 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-1-2
kubectl label node node-1-2-1 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-1-2-1

kubectl label node node-1-2-2 topology.rook.io/room=room-1
kubectl label node node-1-2-2 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-1-2
kubectl label node node-1-2-2 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-1-2-2

# -- room-2 --

kubectl label node node-2-1-1 topology.rook.io/room=room-2
kubectl label node node-2-1-1 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-2-1
kubectl label node node-2-1-1 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-2-1-1

kubectl label node node-2-1-2 topology.rook.io/room=room-2
kubectl label node node-2-1-2 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-2-1
kubectl label node node-2-1-2 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-2-1-2

kubectl label node node-2-2-1 topology.rook.io/room=room-2
kubectl label node node-2-2-1 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-2-2
kubectl label node node-2-2-1 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-2-2-1

kubectl label node node-2-2-2 topology.rook.io/room=room-2
kubectl label node node-2-2-2 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-2-2
kubectl label node node-2-2-2 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-2-2-2

# -- room-f (failure domain) --

kubectl label node node-f-1-1 topology.rook.io/room=room-f
kubectl label node node-f-1-1 topology.rook.io/rack=rack-f-1
kubectl label node node-f-1-1 topology.rook.io/chassis=node-f-1-1

7 Planning the Nodes Where Ceph Daemons Will Run

7.1 Ceph MONS

Using the hypothetical data center described in the Section 1, “Overview”, this section will look at planning the nodes where Ceph daemons are going to run.

Ceph MON scheduling is one of the more detailed, and more important, things to understand about maintaining a healthy Ceph cluster. The goals we will target in this section can be summarized as: Avoid risky co-location scenarios, but allow them if there are no other options, to still have as much redundancy as possible.

This can lead us to the following specific goals:

  • Allow MONs to be in the same room if a room is unavailable.

  • Allow MONs to be in the same rack if no other racks in the room are available.

  • Allow MONs to be on the same host only if no other hosts are available.

    We must allow this specifically in the cluster configuration cluster.yaml by setting allowMultiplePerNode: true.


    This cannot be set to true for clusters using host networking.

Tip: Topology Labels

We recommend using the same topology labels used for informing the CRUSH map here for convenience.

Because of our MON SSD availability, in our hypothetical data center, we only want monitors to be able to run where shown below in green. We need to plan for monitors to fail over, and so we will make two nodes explicitly available for this scenario. In our example, we want any node with a MON SSD to be a MON failover location in emergencies, for maximum cluster health. This is highlighted in orange below. This will give us the most redundancy under failure conditions.

Example Datacenter - MON Failover
Figure 3: Example Datacenter - MON Failover

To implement this in Rook, ensure that Rook will only schedule MONs on nodes with MON SSDs. There is a required Affinity for those nodes, which can be accomplished by applying a ceph-mon-ssd=true label to nodes with SSDs for Ceph MONs. Note that the MON section’s nodeAffinity takes precedence over the all section’s nodeAffinity. Make sure that you re-specify the rules from the all section to ensure Ceph MONs maintain affinity only for storage nodes.

      - matchExpressions:​
          - key:role​
              - storage-node  ​
      - matchExpressions:​
          - key:ceph-mon-ssd​

We want to schedule MONs so they are spread across failure domains whenever possible. We will accomplish this by applying Anti-affinity between MON pods. Rook labels all MON pods app=rook-ceph-mon, and that is what will be used to spread the monitors apart. There is one rule for rooms, and one for racks if a room is down. We want to ensure a higher weight is given to riskier co-location scenarios:

We do not recommend running MONs on the same node unless absolutely necessary. Rook automatically applies an Anti-affinity with medium-level weight. However, this might not be appropriate for all scenarios. For our scenario, we only want node-level co-location in the worst of failure scenarios, so we want to apply the highest weight Anti-affinity for nodes.

    # ... nodeAffinity from above ...
        - weight:80​
        - weight:90​
        - weight: 100​
                app: rook-ceph-mon​
            topologyKey: kubernetes.io/hostname​

If hostNetworking is enabled, you cannot co-locate MONs, because the ports will collide on nodes. To enforce this, if host networking is enabled, Rook will automatically set a requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution Pod Anti-affinity rule.

7.2 Ceph OSDS

There is a lot of planning that goes into the placement of monitors, and this is also true for OSDs. Fortunately, because the planning is already done with the monitors and because we have discussed the methods, it is quite a bit easier to plan for the OSDs.

Example Datacenter - OSD Placement
Figure 4: Example Datacenter - OSD Placement

There are two ways to select nodes to use for OSDs:

  • Apply Kubernetes Node labels and tell Rook to look for those labels. Specify in the cluster.yaml storage:useAllNodes true and specify osd nodeAffinity using ceph-osd=true label using the same Affinity methods we used for MONs.

  • Specify node names in the CephCluster definition (cluster.yaml) individually in storage:nodes.

Choosing which option to use depends on your desired management strategy. There is no single strategy we would recommend over any other.

7.3 Other Ceph Daemons

Placing the other Ceph daemons follows the same logic and methods as MONs and OSDs: MGR, MDS, RGW, NFS-Ganesha, and RBD mirroring daemons can all be placed as desired. For more information, see https://rook.io/docs/rook/v1.3/ceph-cluster-crd.html#placement-configuration-settings

8 Hardware Resource Requirements and Requests

Kubernetes can watch the system resources available on nodes and can help schedule applications—such as the Ceph daemons—automatically. Kubernetes uses Resource Requests to do this. For Rook, we are notably concerned about Kubernetes' scheduling of Ceph daemons.

Kubernetes has two Resource Request types: Requests and Limits. Requests govern scheduling, and Limits instruct Kubernetes to kill and restart application Pods when they are over-consuming given Limits.

When there are Ceph hardware requirements, treat those requirements as Requests, not Limits. This is because all Ceph daemons are critical for storage, and it is best to never set Resource Limits for Ceph Pods. If Ceph Daemons are over-consuming Requests, there is likely a failure scenario happening. In a failure scenario, killing a daemon beyond a Limit is likely to make an already bad situation worse. This could create a “thundering herds” situation where failures synchronize and magnify.

Generally, storage is given minimum resource guarantees, and other applications should be limited so as not to interfere. This guideline already applies to bare-metal storage deployments, not only for Kubernetes.

As you read on, it is important to note that all recommendations can be affected by how Ceph daemons are configured. For example, any configuration regarding caching. Keep in mind that individual configurations are out of scope for this document.

8.1 Resource Requests - MON/MGR

Resource Requests for MONs and MGRs are straightforward. MONs try to keep memory usage to around 1 GB — however, that can expand under failure scenarios. We recommend 4 GB RAM and 4 CPU cores.

Recommendations for MGR nodes are harder to make, since enabling more modules means higher usage. We recommend starting with 2 GB RAM and 2 CPU cores for MGRs. It is a good idea to look at the actual usage for deployments and do not forget to consider usage during failure scenarios.


  • Request 4 CPU cores

  • Request 4GB RAM (2.5GB minimum)


  • Memory will grow the more MGR modules are enabled

  • Request 2 GB RAM and 2 CPU cores

8.2 Resource Requests - OSD CPU

Recommendations and calculations for OSD CPU are straightforward.

Hardware recommendations:

  • 1 x 2GHz CPU Thread per spinner

  • 2 x GHz CPU Thread per SSD

  • 4 x GHz CPU Thread per NVMe


  • 8 HDDS journaled to SSD – 10 cores / 8 OSDs = 1.25 cores per OSD

  • 6 SSDs without journals – 12 cores / 6 OSDs = 2 cores per OSD

  • 8 SSDs journaled to NVMe – 20 cores / 8 OSDs = 2.5 cores per OSD

Note that resources are applied cluster-wide to all OSDs. If a cluster contains multiple OSD types, you must use the highest Requests for the whole cluster. For the examples below, a mixture of HDDs journaled to SSD and SSDs without journals would necessitate a Request for 2 cores.

8.3 Resource Requests - OSD RAM

There are node hardware recommendations for OSD RAM usage, and this needs to be translated to RAM requests on a per-OSD basis. The node-level recommendation below describes osd_memory_target. This is a Ceph configuration that is described in detail further on.

Total RAM required = [number of OSDs] x (1 GB + osd_memory_target) + 16 GB

Ceph OSDs will attempt to keep heap memory usage under a designated target size set via the osd_memory_target configuration option. Ceph’s default osd_memory_target is 4GB, and we do not recommend decreasing the osd_memory_target below 4GB. You may wish to increase this value to improve overall Ceph read performance by allowing the OSDs to use more RAM. While the total amount of heap memory mapped by the process should stay close to this target, there is no guarantee that the kernel will actually reclaim memory that has been unmapped.

For example, a node hosting 8 OSDs, memory Requests would be calculated as such:

8 OSDs x (1GB + 4GB) + 16GB = 56GB per node

Allowing resource usage for each OSD:

56GB / 8 OSDs = 7GB

Ceph has a feature that allows it to set osd_memory_target automatically when a Rook OSD Resource Request is set. However, Ceph sets this value 1:1 and does not leave overhead for waiting for the kernel to free memory. Therefore, we recommend setting osd_memory_target in Ceph explicitly, even if you wish to use the default value. Set Rook’s OSD resource requests accordingly and to a higher value than osd_memory_target by at least an additional 1GB. This is so Kubernetes does not schedule more applications or Ceph daemons onto a node than the node is likely to have RAM available for.

OSD RAM Resource Requests come with the same cluster-wide Resource Requests note as for OSD CPU. Use the highest Requests for a cluster consisting of multiple different configurations of OSDs.

8.4 Resource Requests - Gateways

For gateways, the best recommendation is to always tune your workload and daemon configurations. However, we do recommend the following initial configurations:


  • 6-8 CPU cores

  • 64 GB RAM (32 GB minimum – may only apply to older "civetweb" protocol)


The numbers below for RGW assume a lot of clients connecting. Thus they might not be the best for your scenario. The RAM usage should be lower for the newer “beast” protocol as opposed to the older “civetweb” protocol.


  • 2.5 GHz CPU with a least 2 cores

  • 3GB RAM


  • 6-8 CPU cores (untested, high estimate)

  • 4GB RAM for default settings (settings hardcoded in Rook presently)

9 Basic Performance Enhancements

The following are some basic performance enhancements. These are a few easy, low-hanging-fruit recommendations.


Not all of these will be right for all clusters or workloads. Always performance test and use your best judgment.

  • You can gain performance by using a CNI plugin with an accelerated network stack. For example, Cilium uses eBPF to improve performance over some other CNI plugins.

  • Enable host networking to improve network performance. Notably, this provides lower, more stable latency. This does, however, step outside of Kubernetes’ network security domain. In cluster.yaml set network:provider:host.

  • Use jumbo frames for your networking. This can be applied to both host networking and the CNI plugin.

  • For performance-sensitive deployments, ensure Ceph OSDs always get the performance they need by not allowing other Ceph daemons or user applications to run on OSD nodes. Co-locating MONs and MGRs with OSDs can still be done fairly safely as long as there are enough hardware resources to also include monitors and managers.

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Documents published as part of the SUSE Best Practices series have been contributed voluntarily by SUSE employees and third parties. They are meant to serve as examples of how particular actions can be performed. They have been compiled with utmost attention to detail. However, this does not guarantee complete accuracy. SUSE cannot verify that actions described in these documents do what is claimed or whether actions described have unintended consequences. SUSE LLC, its affiliates, the authors, and the translators may not be held liable for possible errors or the consequences thereof.

Below we draw your attention to the license under which the articles are published.