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Learn how OpenStack manages different types of storage

1. Overview

Before you get started!

Welcome to OpenStack!

In this series of tutorials, we will walk you through all the necessary steps to install, configure and get started with OpenStack. Using just a single machine, you will learn how to use OpenStack for cloud infrastructure implementation purposes, from a single-node installation to large-scale clusters.

This tutorial is the tenth in the “Phase I - Learn OpenStack” series.

Explore other tutorials >

What is OpenStack?

OpenStack is a collection of open source projects designed to work together to form the basis of a cloud. OpenStack can be used for both private and public cloud implementation.

What is Sunbeam?

Sunbeam is an upstream project under the governance of the OpenInfra Foundation (OIF), which was created to lower the barrier to entry for OpenStack, simplify its adoption process, and set the foundation for an autonomous private cloud. Sunbeam uses cloud-native architecture and total bottom-up automation to make OpenStack more accessible to newcomers and to help users get to grips with the platform immediately.

What is MicroStack?

MicroStack (based on Sunbeam) is an OpenStack distribution designed for small-scale cloud environments. While it is available with full commercial support from Canonical, it can also be self-deployed with no friction, effectively eliminating the need for a paid consulting engagement. MicroStack currently includes core OpenStack services only, but is expected to evolve quickly to ensure full feature parity with Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack soon.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • Distinguish between the various types of storage in OpenStack

2. Storage types

There are three types of storage available in OpenStack:

  • Ephemeral storage - Volatile storage that can be attached to instances during their provisioning process. It is removed permanently once instances are deleted. Ephemeral storage is managed by Nova, and can be used to store temporary data, including common OS files, caches, buffers, etc.

  • Block storage - Persistent storage that is attached to instances during their provisioning process by default. It is not removed by default when instances are deleted. Block storage is managed by Cinder, and can be used to store persistent data, such as databases, logs, binaries, etc.

  • Object storage - Persistent cloud-native storage that is not attached to instances, but is accessible through the API instead. Object storage used to be managed by the OpenStack Swift service, but in production environments it is usually implemented with (Ceph Object Gateway)[] instead.


Cinder is not included by default in Sunbeam when installed in the single-node mode. For more information on enabling Cinder in Sunbeam, please refer to the official multi-node installation instructions

3. Next steps