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Persistent container storage vendors take center stage

Portworx expands persistent storage features with PX-Enterprise upgrade. Virtuozzo Storage adds erasure coding to file and block, while StorageOS makes beta available.

Recent news by Portworx, Virtuozzo and StorageOS comes just in time for DockerCon and with container users struggling with persistent storage issues.

The rollout of products to help deal with persistent container storage precedes the annual Docker user conference next week in Austin, Texas.

Container storage startup Portworx this week released the latest version of its PX-Enterprise software. Feature upgrades include Cloud Snap for multicloud container backup and a bring-your-own encryption key capability that lets users control encryption of each container volume. The update integrates support for Amazon's Auto Scaling Group to expand and contract containerized application clusters on demand. Portworx this month also received $20 million in venture financing.

Virtualization vendor Virtuozzo Storage released the second version of its container software, adding object storage with erasure coding.

StorageOS, which is planning a U.S. headquarters in Austin, Texas, published a public beta version of its eponymous software that permits companies to start by launching 30 MB containers on 64-bit Linux.

Portworx gets 'fuel for the journey'

Containers are stateless, which means database log and other critical user data is lost when the container no longer exists. Persistent container storage has evolved from back-end APIs for accessing storage arrays to integrated approaches that are more closely melded with the rest of the stack.

The Annual Container Adoption Survey, sponsored this year by Portworx and released last month, found that 32% of the 491 IT pros surveyed said their organization spent $500,000 or more on containers license and usage fees. That was up from 5% that spent $500,000 in 2016.

Respondents identified persistent storage as the top challenge for running containers for the second straight year, as 26% put it atop the list. That was up slightly from 25% in the 2016 survey. Data management was the second most-cited challenge, at 13%.

Portworx will put its new funding toward trying to make containers viable for everyday production applications. It brings the vendor's total funding to $28.5 million since launching in 2016.

Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures) led the Series B funding round, which included GE Ventures as a new investor. Mayfield Ventures and other Series A investors also participated.

The Portworx PX-Series provides scale-out container storage with persistence in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or Linux-based servers. The vendor plans to use the proceeds to expand global sales and integrate with partners to boost security and storage management with transactional NoSQL databases.

"You don't give a high-five just because you fill up your gas tank, but we're happy to get the money. It gives us fuel for the journey," said Portworx CEO Murli Thirumale.

Portworx executives have a lineage in enterprise storage. Thirumale and CTO Goutham Rao founded compression and deduplication vendor Ocarina Networks, which Dell acquired in 2010 and subsequently integrated its technology into storage arrays. Eric Han, Portworx's senior director of product management, was the product manager of Kubernetes-based Google Container Engine before joining Portworx.

More important are the company's recent customer wins, Thirumale said, including GE Digital and Lufthansa Systems.

The PX virtual storage array uses infrastructure as code for running persistent storage containers in production. Customers can run it inside a virtual machine or on bare metal to build containerized applications in Docker and other runtime engines.

Portworx converts clusters of block storage nodes into a large capacity pool. It fingerprints the storage to allow data tiering. Replication and snapshots are scheduled at the container level via Docker Swarm, Mesos and Kubernetes.

Thirumale said Lufthansa Systems uses Portworx to support applications for its BoardConnect in-flight entertainment to deliver content to about 300 airlines.

GE Predix is rolling out an internal platform as a service (PaaS) to serve about 9,000 applications from various divisions within GE. The PaaS cloud is built on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, using PX as the data layer.

Docker persistent storage containers continue to gain attention

Portworx is not alone in trying to move containers from the realm of application development to production storage. Virtuozzo's container technology has evolved from the vendor's roots in desktop virtualization.

Virtualization vendor Virtuozzo last month launched the second version of Virtuozzo Storage, adding object storage with erasure coding to previous block and file support.

Virtuozzo Storage 1 in 2012 targeted container storage with hyper-converged infrastructure. Version 2 supports multiple petabytes in a single cluster.

"Now you can use us to run containers and virtual machines side by side, as block or file for iSCSI, or as object storage for containerized applications in the cloud," said Sergey Maksimov, Virtuozzo's senior product manager.

Users can create Amazon S3-compatabile object stores, iSCSI target and access gateways for Acronis backup storage. Object data files can be uploaded to Virtuozzo repositories and fingerprinted with Acronis Notary blockchain technology.

In addition, StorageOS intends to demonstrate its persistent container storage software at DockerCon next week. StorageOS made a limited beta version available to development teams in 2016, shortly after it launched in London. 

Next Steps

Virtualized apps, storage may not play together

Enterprises take baby steps with Docker storage

Get the full rundown on implementing container storage

A developer's guide to persistent container storage 

Dig Deeper on SAN Virtualization and SAN Storage Consolidation

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