While containers have been around since the 1970s, their popularity exploded with the advent of Docker in 2013. Now, container orchestration tools like Kubernetes are rapidly transforming how applications are developed and deployed. They’re enabling developers to focus exclusively on building software and delivering value. It’s not hyperbole to say that containers are sparking a revolution in software development.
But if you’re going to embrace containers, you must also get your arms around the issue of data protection.
To explain why, we must first define what, exactly, a container is. A container is an application that bundles all its dependencies, libraries and configuration files into a single package. This bundling makes it easier to spin up new container instances and seamlessly move containers from one computing environment to another.
That’s a significant advantage in a lot of ways. For instance, containers are typically used when developers want to move an application from a testing environment, such as their laptop, to a live production environment. The use of containers is also common when migrating from a physical machine to a cloud-based virtual machine.
Containers are highly beneficial in many different scenarios because they are not slowed down by differences in operating systems, software versions, etc. Indeed, containers are extremely flexible and portable, making them a natural fit for many cloud applications. As computing and storage rapidly move to the cloud, containers will likely become a vital technology for every modern organization.
However, while container orchestration tools like Kubernetes are convenient due to their scalability and portability, they can fall short when it comes to data protection.
Why is data protection for Kubernetes so tricky? Well, for starters, a Kubernetes architecture is exceptionally fluid and dynamic. Containers are rapidly spun up and just as quickly torn down, depending on the developers’ goals and specifications. That means containers are essentially temporary and have a relatively short lifespan.
What does this mean for data protection? It means that as more enterprises adopt containers, data protection will become an increasingly important issue. The growing number of organizations now using containers in their testing environment before deploying new applications are discovering that unexpected things can happen to data during that migration and deployment.
The takeaway: Properly backing up your data is particularly important in Kubernetes—and will only become more critical in the months and years ahead.
As organizations use more containers, they will create more and more data that must be backed up and stored. Again, because containers tend to be used for testing and development, the lifespan of the containers themselves is usually shorter than the data they create. But, for compliance and other reasons, that data needs to be stored and protected long after a particular container is decommissioned or destroyed.
It’s also important to note that backing up container data is not a time-driven process, with data backed up every few minutes or hours. With containers, backup is more event-driven. For example, if you create a new container but don’t get the result you’re hoping for, you want the ability to return to the previous state quickly. So, you need a backup that returns to that point.
This is why container backup is increasingly a front-burner issue. Even though containers, by their very nature, are designed to be temporary, organizations are realizing that container data needs to last longer and must ultimately be protected.
So, what’s the solution? There are several steps companies can take to ensure that their container data is stored successfully.
For starters, it’s vital to assess the data requirements for each containerized application. Companies should also ensure that there are protocols in place to stop container data from being needlessly overwritten. Further, companies must be aware of every container’s security and access requirements in their environment.
Containerization has provided a significant boost to application development. But organizations need to give serious consideration to storing, backing up and protecting their containerized data. By tackling the data protection issue head-on, organizations can truly reap the many benefits of container-based development and move confidently into the future.