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Portworx update targets hybrid and multi-cloud deployments

PX-Enterprise 2.0 moves beyond storage for stateful container-based applications to provide data migration and management across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

Portworx is adding the ability to move container-based application data across clouds with an update to its storage software for Kubernetes.

Portworx PX-Enterprise 2.0 now includes PX-Motion migration and a PX-Central management console. These features build on the startup's original focus on helping customers provision persistent storage for stateful container-based applications.

Portworx CTO Gou Rao said the PX-Enterprise update responds to the growing trend of DevOps teams moving to Linux containers, rather than virtual machines, to manage and run their application infrastructure across clouds. These clouds can be on-premises or public clouds.

New PX-Motion feature

PX-Motion enables Kubernetes users to shift applications, data and configuration information between clusters. Customers can move the data or Kubernetes objects that control an application on demand. They can also set the product to automate workflows, such as backup and recovery and blue-green deployments for stateful applications. Users run two identical production environments in a blue-green deployment, with only one live at any time, to reduce the risk of downtime.

"Once a customer enables the PX-Motion functionality, they just go back to managing their applications through Kubernetes," Rao said.

Migrating data between clouds could be hard with monolithic applications running in a machine-centric world, where any change might require moving a virtual machine image from one cloud to another, Rao said. By contrast, applications packaged in containers are distributed and service-oriented, with a smaller footprint, paving the way for Portworx features such as PX-Motion, he said.

"It's not like a customer in the enterprise has one big, single, large Kubernetes cluster. What we have seen happening in the past couple of years is that people are typically running multiple Kubernetes clusters for a variety of reasons," including compliance, risk mitigation or cost, Rao said. One common use case is running multiple clusters in the same public or private cloud and treating them as distinct cloud footprints, he added.

Portworx PX-Motion blue-green deployment
Portworx PX-Motion migrates container-based applications, data and configuration information as part of a DevOps-style blue-green deployment.

PX-Central management console

Portworx added PX-Central to facilitate single-pane-of-glass management, monitoring and metadata services across Portworx clusters built on the Kubernetes container scheduler and orchestration engine. Users can visualize and control an ongoing migration at an application level through custom policies.

Rhett Dillingham, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said Kubernetes users often struggle with storage availability and data management within and across clusters. This can be the case particularly when they run stateful applications, such as databases.

He said Portworx took an innovative approach to provide high-availability storage in the first version of PX-Enterprise. Now, it's tackling data management to help enterprises scale Kubernetes deployments across clusters, development pipeline environments and multi-cloud environments.

Portworx's competitors in cloud-native storage for Kubernetes include startup StorageOS and open source OpenEBS. But Dillingham said many organizations aren't yet using any tools to solve the problems Portworx addresses.

"They just use the cloud block storage service from their cloud infrastructure platform," Dillingham said. "But, as customers grow their use of Kubernetes to address more applications across more environments, they often recognize they need more storage platform capability than what they can get from the cloud infrastructure services."

Portworx customer Fractal Industries started using Portworx PX-Enterprise to scale its machine-learning- and AI-based analytics-as-a-service product that ingests, integrates and correlates data in real time. The Reston, Va., startup uses stateful and stateless container-based services to power its Fractal OS platform and had trouble finding a good option to help with the stateful services. Fractal tried the open source REX-Ray container storage orchestration engine, mounted volumes, local volumes and other technologies before settling on Portworx.

Sunil Pentapati, director of platform operations at Fractal, said PX-Enterprise not only helps Fractal with scaling storage volumes and backup-and-restore functionality, but it also provides a common data management layer and real-time automation capabilities. He said the product includes APIs that minimize the manual effort Fractal needs to expend. The new Portworx PX-Enterprise 2.0 update will be important, as Fractal pursues its long-term goals related to automation, Pentapati noted.

"What is very important for us as a company is cloud independence," Pentapati said. "The way we built our product is to abstract everything in such a way that we could scale our product across cloud providers or where the customer wants. For us to achieve that independence, it is not enough just to tackle the compute layer. We also need to extend the automation all the way to the data layer, too. Having the ability to scale our automation and operate across clouds is what Portworx brings to the table."

Subscription-based pricing for Portworx PX-Enterprise is $1,500 per virtual machine, per year. PX-Motion and PX-Central are new features bundled with PX-Enterprise at no extra cost to the customer.

PX-Enterprise integrates Kubernetes distributions and container orchestration systems, such as Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service, Docker Enterprise Edition, Google Kubernetes Engine, Heptio, IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, Mesosphere DC/OS, Pivotal Container Service for Kubernetes, Rancher and Red Hat OpenShift.

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