In a recent StorageSwiss survey, 40% of respondents indicated that they were interested in deploying Docker into production, as a compliment or potentially as an alternative to VMware. Docker containers are resource efficient and extremely flexible, which have lead to its success in Dev/Ops environments. Those same efficiencies appeal to IT professionals wanting to extract maximum value from the production environment. Taking advantage of Docker containers in production is going to require unique capabilities from the storage infrastructure. It has to be able to provide performance, scalability, features and of course compatibility with Docker.
Scale-Out Docker Storage
A storage system that supports Docker will undoubtedly need to scale-out both in terms of performance and capacity. A containerized environment will generate hundreds if not thousands of parallel workloads. The storage system needs to be designed to deal with this multi-threaded workload.
Reliable Commodity Storage
Another essential attribute of Docker is its cost-efficient use of existing resources. To maintain cost effectiveness, the storage infrastructure should leverage commodity hardware so that Docker’s cost savings are not eaten away by storage costs. At the same time moving Docker into production means that the storage supporting these containers has to be reliable and redundant while still running on commodity hardware. As Storage Switzerland discussed in its article “How to safely use 8TB Drives in the Enterprise”, data protection schemes like replication provides a higher level of redundancy without requiring a lot of CPU resources, enabling the use of inexpensive storage nodes.
A weakness of Docker is its storage feature set which is, at this point, very basic, but as containers move into production, IT professionals are going to expect capabilities like snapshots and replication. It is important that the storage system then provides those capabilities. Leveraging a modern, distributed computing architecture the storage system can deliver scale-out capacity while providing a full range of features without impacting performance.
Beyond the lack of features, Docker also lacks intelligence when moving containers between hosts. This lack of intelligence not only requires shared storage but volume management. Solutions like Flocker from ClusterHQ can provide volume control and make containers more mobile. While manual integration with Flocker is possible, the solution is made easier when the storage system vendor integrates directly to it.
Running Docker Containers in production and taking full advantage of their very efficient use of resources is now a reality if the storage infrastructure can meet the above requirements. In our webinar “The Top 4 Requirements of a Docker Storage Architecture” we discuss what Docker is, why it appeals to IT professionals beyond Dev/Ops and how storage can enable the transition of containers to production.