March 26, 2017

Portworx, a California-based startup, has launched a new platform, PX-Lite, that leverages Linux containers to deliver software-defined storage.

In other words, Portworx promises “container-defined storage,” its main tagline. PX-Lite delivers on that vision by automatically aggregating local storage and making it available through a container.

The big idea is to make it easier for DevOps teams to access local storage resources of different types, from flash to SATA arrays, in a way that automatically abstracts them from underlying hardware. That approach simplifies storage management and delivers more storage scalability.

Software-defined storage is not a new idea, of course. Platforms like Ceph and VMware Virtual SAN have been available for years, making it easy to abstract storage from hardware. But none of those products are well integrated into the container world. They make access to storage easier and more scalable, but they don’t provide the portability of containers.

The promise of portability and scalability at the same time is at the center of Portworx’s LX-Lite pitch. “One of the largest hurdles to moving containers from development to DevOps to production is that the move requires data persistence that retains the benefits of container portability — such as snapshots, replication and scalability,” said George Crump, president and founder of Storage Switzerland. “With PX-Lite, Portworx uses containers to ensure data persistence. This will allow enterprises to create a DevTest container-ready environment while freeing themselves from expensive, complex SAN/NAS and VMware regimens.”

PX-Lite is also interesting because it directly confronts a challenge that has beleaguered container developers since Linux containers first went mainstream a couple of years ago: Providing persistent storage for container-based apps that are not necessarily persistent themselves. Solutions like Docker storage volumes address part of this issue, but not in a way that is designed for seamless integration with a range of underlying storage systems. PX-Lite offers container storage that is arguably more persistent, and more platform-agnostic, than other container storage systems.

For all that PX-Lite does, it seems somewhat limited in that it only aggregates local storage resources. Support for network-based storage is not yet available. In that sense, PX-Lite is currently poised more to compete with SANs and NAS platforms than to replace them altogether. But we’re guessing Portworx may try to change that going forward.

The company announced PX-Lite on Feb. 10. The software will become generally available on Feb. 17 to coincide with the beginning of ContainerWorld in Santa Clara.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.