Container storage: Docker in flash, HCI and software-defined

We look at what flash array, hyper-converged infrastructure and software-defined storage makers are doing to provide persistent storage for container-based deployments

Recently, we looked at what the biggest storage suppliers are doing when it comes to providing persistent storage for containers.

We found the big storage players all have Docker Volume Plugins for their products and some are building out container storage management platforms.

But what about other storage players – the flash specialists, the software-defined storage makers, and the hyper-converged infrastructure suppliers?

To run containers – usually Docker, which has emerged as a de facto standard – you do not have to provision persistent storage because any capacity required lives and dies with the container.

But that hasn’t been sufficient for many use cases to which containers have been put, so efforts have been made to develop ways of providing persistent storage for Docker. That is, storage that remains once the container has been spun down, which is needed for all sorts of reasons in enterprise scenarios.

To provide persistent storage for Docker means, at the least, having Docker Volume plugins available, APIs (application programming interfaces) written to work with the storage product in question.

It could also mean having integration with higher-level containers management platforms, such as Docker Swarm, Kubernetes or Mesosphere Marathon. Efforts are being made to develop standardised ways to integrate plugins/APIs with these platforms, such as with the Container Storage Interface.

All the biggest storage suppliers – Dell EMC, HPE, Hitachi Vantara, IBM and NetApp – have container storage covered by at least Docker Volume Plugins.

Read more on containers and storage

Outside the top five, the picture is more patchy, as you might expect.

On the one hand, Pure Storage, one of the all-flash array market leaders, provides plugins as well as its own software that integrates with the leading orchestration platforms.

Other all-flash array, hyper-converged and software-defined storage makers offer Docker Volume Plugins.

And yet others go a bit further with, for example, Kubernetes integration or products aimed at container environments.

Meanwhile, some mid-range storage array makers appear not to address container storage at all, but presumably containers are just not in the plans of their customer base.

Flash specialists’ container capabilities

Kaminario

All-flash array maker Kaminario has Docker plugins for its hardware via the Kaminario K2 Flocker Plugin.

Pure Storage

Part of the leading group in the all-flash array market, Pure Storage has recently added to its container storage capabilities with the release of Pure Service Orchestrator.

This allows storage-as-a-service-style management of container storage in Pure FlashArray and FlashBlade arrays to provide persistent storage for Docker containers, with on-demand provisioning based on policies.

Pure Service Orchestrator integrates with Kubernetes and Mesosphere Marathon container environments.

Pure also has Docker storage plugins for FlashArray and FlashBlade that allow for persistent storage on those arrays.

Western Digital

WD recently introduced Docker container support “for select customers” in its ActiveScale 5.3 Object Storage System. ActiveScale is an archiving product that uses the S3 protocol to access a single namespace cluster that can scale up to tens of petabytes.

WD also has its Intelliflash arrays, taken on when it acquired Tegile in 2017, but doesn’t appear to have addressed container storage capability in that line of products.

Software-defined storage sellers

Datacore

Datacore doesn’t seem to have Docker Volume Plugins, but does offer a Kubernetes PersistentVolume API to orchestrate creation and operation of containerised operations and to integrate storage into Kubernetes, as well as working with Docker Swarm.

Hedvig

This software-defined storage maker offers Docker support via Docker Volume Plugins to provide persistent storage.

Nexenta

Nexenta has Docker Volume Plugins for its NexentaStor and NexentaEdge block, file and object storage software products.

It also offers a NexentaEdge DevOps Edition, which is a small-scale free product that allows developers to experiment. It allows containerised applications access to persistent storage.

Veritas

Veritas offers its Hyperscale for Containers platform which delivers container workload deployment across software-defined storage to create a kind of hyper-converged infrastructure platform for containers. It delivers a so-called “intelligent workload deployment” model that aims to provide quality of service for container storage.

Container capabilities in hyper-converged infrastructure

Cisco

Cisco’s Springpath hyper-converged products run Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor and it offers Docker Volume Plugins for them.

Nutanix

This hyper-converged pioneer offers a Docker Volume Plugin that allows customers to attach persistent storage to Docker volumes created in its Acropolis hypervisor.

This was last published in July 2018

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