April 29, 2017

As developers begin to build stateful applications using containers there’s a lot more interest in the various data storage systems that have been developed to support containers. One of the earliest providers of those system is CluserHQ, the provider of an open-source data container manager known as Flocker. Now Kaminario, a provider of all-Flash arrays, has announced a partnership with ClusterHQ under which it will optimize its arrays to support Flocker.

Now that the price of Flash memory has fallen, IT organizations of all sizes are moving to implement Flash First approaches to primary data storage. That approach not only improves application performance by several orders of magnitude, it serves to both make it simpler to manage data as well as shrink the amount of physical infrastructure required to support any given application workload.

By partnering with Cluster HQ, Kaminario is now making possible to apply the benefits of an all-Flash array to distributed container applications, says Shai Maskit, director of product and solutions for Kaminario. He notes also that support for Flocker is the first in a series of efforts Kaminario will make to provide stateful applications with access to all-Flash arrays capable of supporting multiple storage formats.

At the moment it is unknown which of these container storage formats will dominate the container landscape. Maskit says it makes sense to support Flocker because, as the pioneer in the space, ClusterHQ already has customers using Flocker in production environments.

For many storage administrators, coming to terms with these formats represents something of a challenge. Their natural inclination is to use the same storage systems that they use to support applications running on virtual machines to also support containers by deploying containers on top of a virtual machine. But that approach tends to add I/O latency that most developers of container applications are not going to appreciate, especially if that storage system is configured with magnetic disks rather than Flash storage.

In fact, as more containers get deployed in a production environment, the contention for storage resources becomes more problematic. As a result, many organizations deploying stateful applications using containers are going to find have access to Flash storage is now a prerequisite. In effect, enabling distributed stateful applications in a production environment to run as fast as possible requires access to as much non-volatile Flash memory as an organization can afford.

From an IT operations perspective, those Flash storage arrays not only guarantee performance levels, but they are a lot simpler to manage than magnetic storage systems. In the case of Kaminario, the all-Flash arrays are backed by a K-Assured program under which Kaminario guarantees effective capacity. If an IT organization doesn’t achieve the level of capacity, availability or performance promised by Kaminario, the company will provide additional storage arrays at no cost to achieve that goal. Obviously, Kaminario has a vested interest in making sure that never occurs.

Developers don’t usually give much thought to the IT infrastructure on which their applications will run. But given the fact that they usually are held accountable for the performance of those applications, a lot more of them might want to start weighing in.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.