March 24, 2017

One of the aggravating challenges developers and IT operations teams regularly face when working with Docker containers is the need to move data around lots of different instances of containers. Aiming to simplify that process, ClusterHQ announced it has begun beta testing both a hub through which data can be shared more easily and a tool that makes it easier to get data into and out of the hub.

FlockerHub creates a platform through which IT operations teams can store and share any Docker data volume in a way that meets compliance requirements, as access to that data is controlled by the IT operations team.

Fli, meanwhile, is a Git-like command line interface that enables developers to snapshot, clone, push and pull data volumes to FlockerHub. Fli provides a version-control mechanism for Docker data volumes. It can take snapshots of any database or data volume that runs on Linux. Because these snapshots are incremental, each additional push or pull to FlockerHub sends only the part of the data that needs to be updated, which serves to speed transfer times and reduce bandwidth consumption. Fli also provides the ability to organize data into volume sets and branches to create libraries of data volumes.

Michael Ferranti, vice president of Marketing, says ClusterHQ expects both FlockerHub and Fli to become crucial tools that will make it more practical of IT organizations to deploy and manage continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Right now, sharing data across those pipelines is a cumbersome process that winds up defeating the purpose of implementing a CI/CD pipeline in the first place, he says.

Those manual processes also wind up in introducing errors that are not discovered until after the application is deployed in production. A new survey of over 300 IT professionals conducted by ClusterHQ finds that more than 40 percent of developers spend a significant amount of time debugging errors found in production. Ferranti says many of those errors stem from developers working with the wrong data volume during the application development process.

The ClusterHQ survey also discovered that 11 percent of application developers report encountering bugs discovered in production every single day, while 25 percent encounter new bugs multiple times per week. Using Fli a database state can be regularly snapshotted and pushed to FlockerHub, so that anytime an application needs to be debugged, the accompanying data can be included in the debugging environment. To smooth that process, ClusterHQ has integrated Fli with Docker Compose, the tool that many developers rely on to spin up test environments for containerized applications. FlockerHub volumes then can be referenced directly in the Docker Compose YAML file.

Moving data around in IT environment may not be a top-of-mind DevOps issue for most IT organizations when they first embrace Docker containers. But once they start working with Docker containers at scale, it’s not too long before they discover just how big a challenge sharing data across all those containers really is.

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.