The first commercial solution designed for backing up containers is here. So the first question is: do you need to back up containers? The answer is really up to you. Whether or not they need backup depends on how you use containers. Like servers and VMs, not everyone uses containers the same way.
Containers That Don’t Need Backup
Did you know that every time you talk to Siri on an iPhone, Apple spins up a container? That container has direct access to everything Siri needs to function, but it does its job and then goes away. This is the perfect example of a container that doesn’t need backup. It is ephemeral/temporary, creates no data, and has an identical configuration to every other container just like it. Backing up that container would be a waste of time and money.
People spin up containers to help scale their operation. They spin up more web servers or database servers to meet the demands of their application. If the application run by these web servers needs to write permanent data, then it writes that data to a database or file server running in another container, VM, or even a physical server. It writes no data inside the container spun up for scaling purposes.
Containers That Need Backup
Just because most people use containers in an ephemeral way does not mean that everyone uses them that way. Some choose to run their entire infrastructure on containers, just as some decided to do that with VMs years ago. If a given container creates data that will remain within that container, then that container and the applications within it needs backup.
Asigra Cloud Backup for Docker Containers
Asigra’s solution for containers is similar to its solution for VMs. It is an agentless approach that communicates to the container being backed up through standard protocols. Software controls the agentless backup of all containers. This software can also run in one of your containers, and it supports all of Asigra’s typical features including CDP and deduplication.
As mentioned in the blog post Backing up Databases in Docker Containers, there does need to be some coordination with databases that may be running in the container. Hopefully Asigra will have some mechanism for doing that as well.
This is the first of what is likely to be many products that target backing up containers. It’s nice that those who have a need to back up their containers finally have a commercial option. The true challenge will come with backing up database products that don’t have traditional backup support even in the VM world, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL.