Benchmark Ceph Cluster Performance

One of the most common questions we hear is "How do I check if my cluster is running at maximum performance?". Wonder no more - in this guide, we'll walk you through some tools you can use to benchmark your Ceph cluster.

NOTE: The ideas in this article are based on Sebastian Han's blog post, TelekomCloud's blog post and inputs from Ceph developers and engineers.

Get Baseline Performance Statistics

Fundamentally, benchmarking is all about comparison. You won't know if you Ceph cluster is performing below par unless you first identify what its maximum possible performance is. So, before you start benchmarking your cluster, you need to obtain baseline performance statistics for the two main components of your Ceph infrastructure: your disks and your network.

Benchmark Your Disks

The simplest way to benchmark your disk is with dd. Use the following command to read and write a file, remembering to add the oflag parameter to bypass the disk page cache:
shell> dd if=/dev/zero of=here bs=1G count=1 oflag=direct

Note the last statistic provided, which indicates disk performance in MB/sec. Perform this test for each disk in your cluster, noting the results.

Benchmark Your Network

Another key factor affecting Ceph cluster performance is network throughput. A good tool for this is iperf, which uses a client-server connection to measure TCP and UDP bandwidth.

You can install iperf using apt-get install iperf or yum install iperf.

iperf needs to be installed on at least two nodes in your cluster. Then, on one of the nodes, start the iperf server using the following command:

shell> iperf -s

On another node, start the client with the following command, remembering to use the IP address of the node hosting the iperf server:

shell> iperf -c

Note the bandwidth statistic in Mbits/sec, as this indicates the maximum throughput supported by your network.

Now that you have some baseline numbers, you can start benchmarking your Ceph cluster to see if it's giving you similar performance. Benchmarking can be performed at different levels: you can perform low-level benchmarking of the storage cluster itself, or you can perform higher-level benchmarking of the key interfaces, such as block devices and object gateways. The following sections discuss each of these approaches.

NOTE: Before running any of the benchmarks in subsequent sections, drop all caches using a command like this:
shell> sudo echo 3 | sudo tee /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches && sudo sync

Benchmark a Ceph Storage Cluster

Ceph includes the rados bench command, designed specifically to benchmark a RADOS storage cluster. To use it, create a storage pool and then use rados bench to perform a write benchmark, as shown below.

The rados command is included with Ceph.

shell> ceph osd pool create scbench 128 128
shell> rados bench -p scbench 10 write --no-cleanup

This creates a new pool named 'scbench' and then performs a write benchmark for 10 seconds. Notice the --no-cleanup option, which leaves behind some data. The output gives you a good indicator of how fast your cluster can write data.
Two types of read benchmarks are available: seq for sequential reads and rand for random reads. To perform a read benchmark, use the commands below:
shell> rados bench -p scbench 10 seq
shell> rados bench -p scbench 10 rand

You can also add the -t parameter to increase the concurrency of reads and writes (defaults to 16 threads), or the -b parameter to change the size of the object being written (defaults to 4 MB). It's also a good idea to run multiple copies of this benchmark against different pools, to see how performance changes with multiple clients.
Once you have the data, you can begin comparing the cluster read and write statistics with the disk-only benchmarks performed earlier, identify how much of a performance gap exists (if any), and start looking for reasons.
You can clean up the benchmark data left behind by the write benchmark with this command:

shell> rados -p scbench cleanup

Benchmark a Ceph Block Device

If you're a fan of Ceph block devices, there are two tools you can use to benchmark their performance. Ceph already includes the rbd bench command, but you can also use the popular I/O benchmarking tool fio, which now comes with built in support for RADOS block devices.

The rbd command is included with Ceph. RBD support in fio is relatively new, therefore you will need to download it from its repository and then compile and install it using_ configure && make && make install_. Note that you must install the librbd-dev development package with apt-get install librbd-dev or yum install librbd-dev before compiling fio in order to activate its RBD support.

Before using either of these two tools, though, create a block device using the commands below:
shell> ceph osd pool create rbdbench 128 128
shell> rbd create image01 --size 1024 --pool rbdbench
shell> sudo rbd map image01 --pool rbdbench --name client.admin
shell> sudo /sbin/mkfs.ext4 -m0 /dev/rbd/rbdbench/image01
shell> sudo mkdir /mnt/ceph-block-device
shell> sudo mount /dev/rbd/rbdbench/image01 /mnt/ceph-block-device

The rbd bench-write command generates a series of sequential writes to the image and measure the write throughput and latency. Here's an example:

shell> rbd bench-write image01 --pool=rbdbench

Or, you can use fio to benchmark your block device. An example rbd.fio template is included with the fio source code, which performs a 4K random write test against a RADOS block device via librbd. Note that you will need to update the template with the correct names for your pool and device, as shown below.

Then, run fio as follows:
shell> fio examples/rbd.fio

Benchmark a Ceph Object Gateway

When it comes to benchmarking the Ceph object gateway, look no further than swift-bench, the benchmarking tool included with OpenStack Swift. The swift-bench tool tests the performance of your Ceph cluster by simulating client PUT and GET requests and measuring their performance.

You can install swift-bench using pip install swift && pip install swift-bench.

To use swift-bench, you need to first create a gateway user and subuser, as shown below:
shell> sudo radosgw-admin user create --uid="benchmark" --display-name="benchmark"
shell> sudo radosgw-admin subuser create --uid=benchmark --subuser=benchmark:swift
shell> sudo radosgw-admin key create --subuser=benchmark:swift --key-type=swift
shell> radosgw-admin user modify --uid=benchmark --max-buckets=0

Next, create a configuration file for swift-bench on a client host, as below. Remember to update the authentication URL to reflect that of your Ceph object gateway and to use the correct user name and credentials.
auth = http://gateway-node/auth/v1.0
user = benchmark:swift
key = guessme
auth_version = 1.0

You can now run a benchmark as below. Use the -c parameter to adjust the number of concurrent connections (this example uses 64) and the -s parameter to adjust the size of the object being written (this example uses 4K objects). The -n and -g parameters control the number of objects to PUT and GET respectively.
shell> swift-bench -c 64 -s 4096 -n 1000 -g 100 /tmp/swift.conf

Although swift-bench measures performance in number of objects/sec, it's easy enough to convert this into MB/sec, by multiplying by the size of each object. However, you should be wary of comparing this directly with the baseline disk performance statistics you obtained earlier, since a number of other factors also influence these statistics, such as:
  • the level of replication (and latency overhead)
  • full data journal writes (offset in some situations by journal data coalescing)
  • fsync on the OSDs to guarantee data safety
  • metadata overhead for keeping data stored in RADOS
  • latency overhead (network, ceph, etc) makes readahead more important

TIP: When it comes to object gateway performance, there's no hard and fast rule you can use to easily improve performance. In some cases, Ceph engineers have been able to obtain better-than-baseline performance using clever caching and coalescing strategies, whereas in other cases, object gateway performance has been lower than disk performance due to latency, fsync and metadata overhead.


There are a number of tools available to benchmark a Ceph cluster, at different levels: disk, network, cluster, device and gateway. You should now have some insight into how to approach the benchmarking process and begin generating performance data for your cluster. Good luck!

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