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More want containers but storage is not up to the job

Containers offer a rapid and flexible way to deploy apps, but many are put off by lack of storage management support and scalability in SAN and NAS systems, says Portworx survey

More IT departments would deploy containers if it wasn’t for poor storage support. The biggest challenges lie in poor management and scaling for containers in storage systems.

Those were the findings of a survey of 648 IT professionals by Portworx, a company that specialises in storage for containers.

Of those that had deployed containers (584), the key challenges were inadequate tools to manage container storage (56%), concerns about data loss (42%), storage not scaling effectively with the number of containers (33%), and provisioning taking too long in SAN or NAS environments.

The largest number (43%) said they would deploy containers within a year if these challenges could be resolved.

When asked what features they most wanted from a storage product for use with containers, the top choice (37%) was for storage to be provisioned automatically.

The current top choice in storage for containers is via virtual machines (61%), followed by SAN (46%) and NAS (33%).

Containers have been gaining prominence in recent years.

In some senses, they are – and this is their origin – an alternative to server virtualisation that offers more lightweight virtualisation, running directly on the operating system.

Often, these will be in use cases such as fairly ephemeral web page delivery, and for this there is no need for persistent storage (that lasts beyond the lifecycle of a container).

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But containers have also gained popularity because their suitability to the DevOps mode of working and to provide persistent storage for apps that are built for greater longevity.

Indeed, when the survey asked what key apps respondents planned to use containers for, the top use cases cited were a mix of likely short- and long-lived workloads. These were databases (53%), web front ends (48%), batch processing (44%), and big data such as Hadoop (32%).

Such is the rise in demand for persistent storage for containers that there has been a flurry of releases by storage suppliers in recent months.

These have included StorageOS’s recent beta launch and Red Hat’s container-native persistent storage. Also, hyper-converged infrastructure maker Nutanix added container support with persistent storage, and VM-focused hybrid flash storage seller Tintri is believed to be about to offer container storage.

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