January 19, 2018

At the EMC World 2016 conference this week EMC launched an open source project, dubbed Polly, for scheduling to the allocation of storage resources for Docker, Kubernetes, Mesos and Cloud Foundry deployments. In addition, EMC also revealed it has added support for Docker 1.11 Volume API to the EMC’s REX-Ray open source storage orchestration engine for containers.

Short for polymorphic volume scheduling, Polly provides a centralized storage scheduling service that connects to container schedulers. EMC is also pledging to further enhance Polly to create a framework that enables the scalable offer-acceptance pattern of consuming volumes across a broad array of container and storage platforms.

During the conference EMC demonstrated how to provision the Rancher platform from Rancher Labs to deploy Mesos on a bare metal server. They then connected the Docker interface provided by Rancher to an EMC ScaleIO storage systems. After that they use the REX-Ray storage orchestration engine to connect the ScaleIO system back to Mesos and Rancher.

While it’s still early days in terms of adoption of containers in production environment, EMC sees databases starting to be deployed in container environments, which in turn is creating demand for storage systems that can support persistent applications running on top of those databases. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Docker Inc. found that 42 percent are running a traditional database on top of a container, while 27 percent say they are running a distributed database.

At the same time EMC is also making it clear that it wants to be relevant in the open source community. Polly and REX-Ray are part of a portfolio of 48 open source projects consisting of 350,000 lines of code that EMC is trying to drive. The core issue that EMC is trying to address is that increasingly developers of container applications are specifying what infrastructure will be deployed underneath those applications.

Chad Sakac, president of the Converged Platform Division of EMC, says EMC is already making extensive use of containers across its own products, including EMC Elastic Compute Storage (ECS) object storage software and the instance of the OpenStack cloud management framework that the VCE unit of EMC is now bundling with its converged infrastructure platform.

The degree to which EMC can actually achieve that goal remains to be seen. Not only is EMC in the process of merging with Dell, it has to support a vast array of commercial products that all require proprietary code. In addition, there is no shortage of storage vendors aiming for a piece of the same persistent container application market that EMC is focused on.

Of course, the fundamental assumption that all these storage vendors are making is that these persistent applications are going to be running on premise versus in a public cloud where developers care less what the underlying IT infrastructure actually is. But given the expectation that IT is about the become dominated by hybrid clouds there’s a a good change that at lead some portion of those applications will be deployed on premise.

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.