At the DockerCon 2015 today, Portworx “emerged from stealth mode” to reveal that it has developed storage software that brings native support for block-level storage to containers such as Docker.
Backed by $8.5 million in venture capital funding, Portworx CEO Murli Thirumale says that the startup vendor has developed a software-only approach to managing storage. The PWX Converged Infrastructure for Containers provides a way to support both stateless and stateful applications running on top of containers, which IT organizations have begun to embrace as an alternative form of virtualization.
While many of those Docker containers can be run on top of virtual machines that are already integrated with existing storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS) systems, Thirumale says that ultimate goal for many IT organizations is to deploy Docker containers on bare metal servers to eliminate the need for virtual machine software altogether.
PWX Converged Infrastructure for Containers, says Thirumale, takes that concept to the next logical level by providing applications with access to block-level storage using standard commodity storage devices that eliminates the need for dedicated SAN and NAS infrastructure. Intended to be initially available on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud this summer, a block storage volume on AWS today is attached to an EC2 instance, not directly to a container. PWX provides support for attaching multiple virtual volumes to each container, and manages the data in each of these volumes. In effect, Portworx is providing a level of software-defined persistence for Docker containers that makes it possible to clone data and take snapshots at a more granular level.
Later this year, Portworx will make an edition of its software available for deployment on premise as well. As a result, Thirumale says it will now be more feasible for IT organizations to natively support Docker containers on bare metal servers where the density of the environment will be 10 times as great as it is on virtual machines today.
No matter how you deploy containers, though, managing the amount of I/O access required by Docker workloads is going to be a major challenge for storage administrators who likely already see a long list of applications queuing up to be deployed in production environments.