March 29, 2017

Who’s solving the Docker container storage dilemma? Here’s a list of companies that are making inroads in this space by developing persistent data storage solutions for containers.

Container storage is a hot topic. As organizations seek to migrate their virtual machine workloads to containers, they need a way to store data persistently. So far, a truly elegant solution for persistent data storage on containers remains elusive.

But a number of companies are working to change that. Here’s a roundup of the startups and enterprises that are making real investment in container storage:

  • Docker: Offers a basic persistent storage solution for containers in the form of Docker Data Volumes. Arguably, Docker Data Volumes on their own are not an enterprise-ready storage solution. But they are the building block that some other companies have used to create better persistent storage options for containers.
  • CoreOS: Hopes its new Torus distributed storage system will be the market’s preferred answer to container storage woes. CoreOS announced Torus in June 2016. There has not been a lot of recent development activity on GitHub, though. It’s unclear if and when Torus will be ready for the real world.
  • ClusterHQ: Builds an open-source data platform called Flocker. Flocker is basically a management tool for Docker Data Volumes. It makes them easier to use by simplifying the process of porting a Data Volume from one host to another.
  • Portworx: Trying to flip container storage on its head by creating a platform that uses containers to deliver storage that can be used easily for any type of workload, not just containers. Portworx is doing something a little different from solving persistent container storage for containers, but it’s an important part of the landscape.
  • Rancher: Offers a persistent storage service as part of its open-source container management platform. Like Flocker, the Rancher persistent storage solution is essentially a value-added implementation of Docker Data Volumes.
  • Red Hat: The only large and established company to be working on container storage. Announced in June that it will extend GlusterFS, its distributed storage system, to work easily with containers on OpenShift. So far, the solution remains in development.

The Two Approaches to Persistent Storage

From the list above, it’s clear that there is not yet one single approach to solving the storage dilemma. There are two.

Some companies are building out Docker Data Volumes. Others are trying to adapt distributed storage to work better with containers.

It’s also clear that the door remains wide open for further innovation in this space. Many companies have made grand container storage promises, but few have delivered on them so far.

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.