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Hammerspace adds Kubernetes CSI driver for containers

Startup Hammerspace updates product with Kubernetes Container Storage Interface driver and multisite global namespace to facilitate data access in container environments.

Hammerspace is enabling customers to manage data in Kubernetes with the latest update to its software-as-a-service product.

The startup, based in Los Altos, Calif., built a Kubernetes container storage interface (CSI) driver to connect its software into the popular orchestration engine. The new Kubernetes CSI driver can facilitate access to any data that a customer uses Hammerspace to control, whether that data is stored in block, file or object-based systems on premises or in public clouds.

Hammerspace software manages data through an abstraction layer, or control plane, that sits in front of a customer's back-end storage. The product extracts sophisticated metadata, stores it in a database, and supplies the data's physical location upon request.

With the latest Hammerspace update, customers will gain access to data through a global namespace that can span up to 16 sites located any distance apart, including cloud storage from Amazon and Google. The namespace is currently a beta feature, and is scheduled for general availability in April.

Hammerspace CEO David Flynn said the new global namespace would help customers orchestrate their data as microservices across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, similar to the way they orchestrate the containers themselves.

"The problem we're addressing is how you get durable enterprise data to be as agile as the container environment," Flynn said. "The answer isn't to build a new type of storage. It's not even to bring data into containers. The answer is to containerize the data itself and treat it as something that can be orchestrated in a declarative way."

Kubernetes CSI driver on Docker Hub

Customers can download the new Kubernetes CSI driver from Docker Hub, install the software and point it at the Hammerspace server. Administrators can then configure storage classes that map into services levels in the Hammerspace environment. For instance, they could set a certain block or file storage system as a high-performance storage class and another at reduced throughput.

The problem we're addressing is how you get durable enterprise data to be as agile as the container environment.
David FlynnCEO, Hammerspace

From a Kubernetes perspective, containers consume only block and filesystem persistent volumes. But Hammerspace can also make available data in object storage, because it interfaces to the containers through an abstraction layer.

"If you're a developer, you probably don't even know we exist. All you do is say, 'I will need this much capacity for this storage class to deploy this workload,'" said Douglas Fallstrom, vice president of products and operations at Hammerspace. "What's really powerful is you can change the mapping of the storage class with a single click if someone got it wrong."

Fallstrom said, with other storage products, a customer might have to shut down a container and manually copy data from one system to another. But Hammerspace can manage "behind the scenes" and move it without impact to the Kubernetes environment.

Kubernetes support added to Hammerspace SaaS
Hammerspace adds Kubernetes support to its multiprotocol storage management software.

Migration capabilities

One key feature of the Hammerspace product is its ability to migrate and tier data without impact to production systems. Hammerspace preserves that functionality in a Kubernetes environment, as well as enterprise storage features such as snapshots and replication.

Hammerspace also offers Kubernetes users potentially helpful features for test and development. Developers can import a version of the production data without having to copy it first. They can also work on data in an air gap, segregated from the production network, to minimize the risk of impact to running applications, Fallstrom said.

The Kubernetes CSI driver is included in Hammerspace's base subscription price of 80 cents per GB per year for standard data and 5 cents per GB per year for infrequently accessed data.

Henry Baltazar, a vice president at 451 Research, said the new Hammerspace Kubernetes CSI driver would become more important longer term, as more IT shops deploy containers. He said recent 451 surveys have shown that less than 20% currently deploy containers in production, although many have near-term plans to use them.

Baltazar said Hammerspace's new global namespace would give customers visibility across multiple silos of storage and make sure data gets to the right containers. He said Hammerspace might be especially helpful with high-performance applications, moving the data to storage in closer proximity to the containers.

"If you're going to go to a container environment where you can spawn lots and lots of containers really quickly, that's great. But if they can't access the data, then who cares? It's like putting a big engine in a car but not having tires. It's not going to go anywhere," Baltazar said. "So, as we start looking at these environments, it's going to become important to have the namespace and these other capabilities so you can start processing the data when these jobs come in and not wait for the storage part of it to catch up."

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