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Kubernetes CSI volume plugin and the products that support it

Several volume drivers support the Kubernetes Container Storage Interface volume plugin, making it easier to connect containerized workloads with storage systems.

Since Kubernetes implemented the Container Storage Interface volume plugin earlier this year, several vendors have come out with Kubernetes CSI volume drivers to facilitate connectivity between containerized workloads and their storage systems. Although these drivers can theoretically work with any CSI-compliant container orchestration product, much of the focus has been on the Kubernetes volume plugin.

For example, Hammerspace's Kubernetes CSI-compliant volume driver makes it possible for Kubernetes workloads to access data stored through the Hammerspace data management system. The system's software-based control plane virtualizes and abstracts enterprise data, while extracting sophisticated metadata. The control plane also uses machine learning to automate data management across hybrid cloud environments.

DataCore Software, too, offers a storage control plane for managing enterprise data. The storage plane provides software-defined storage services that span virtual machines, container hosts and bare-metal servers, both on premises or in the cloud. DataCore has a CSI volume driver for connecting to its storage services that lets customers using Kubernetes request a persistent storage volume based on size and read/write requirements.

Persisting containerized data

The CSI plugin offers opportunities to storage vendors that, until now, have avoided Kubernetes integration because of the complexities.

Nutanix is well-known for its hyper-converged infrastructure systems, which support a wide range of workloads, including containerized applications. Although most of the containerized workloads have been stateless, many customers are moving toward stateful operations. To help with this transition, Nutanix provides a CSI volume driver to interface with the Kubernetes CSI volume plugin, making it possible to persist containerized data to the Nutanix environment.

Another company embracing the CSI model is Linode, a cloud hosting provider that offers infrastructure services to application developers and designers. As part of these services, Linode provides block storage capabilities that let users create and attach additional storage volumes to their platform instances. Linode has also released a CSI volume driver for block storage, making it possible for users to access the storage from Linode-based Kubernetes workloads to provide a mechanism for persisting data.

Portworx is getting into the CSI act with its PX-Enterprise cloud service, a data platform that offers native storage and data management for Kubernetes workloads running on premises, in the cloud and in hybrid or multi-cloud environments. Portworx's CSI volume driver supports Kubernetes containerized applications that require persistent storage. In fact, Portworx claims to be the "first fully containerized storage system to support the CSI standard."

There are plenty of other examples of products and services with CSI volume drivers to interface with the Kubernetes CSI volume plugin. For example, NetApp's Trident persistent volume provisioner offers a CSI driver. The MapR Data Platform does, as well, providing data services for high-volume, high-performing applications, such as AI and analytics.

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Kubernetes CSI eliminates complexities

Even Dell EMC is onboard with drivers for its VxFlex Ready Nodes and VxRack Flex hyper-converged systems. Vendors still planning to support Kubernetes will likely develop their own CSI drivers. The CSI plugin also offers opportunities to storage vendors that, until now, have avoided Kubernetes integration because of the complexities involved. A year from now, CSI could well be the norm for all persisted containerized data.

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This was last published in June 2019

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