Portworx Stuffs Stateful Container Storage Updates Into Enterprise Platform

Business By Louis Spencer JR |

Portworx updated its PX-Enterprise platform to provide enterprises with fully programmable infrastructure. This includes control over stateful services running across multiple clouds and container systems.

The first update is the launch of a software development kit (SDK) for the open source OpenStorage control plane used by the PX-Enterprise platform. The OpenStorage SDK allows engineers to use native calls over the open source general remote procedure calls (gRPC) system using languages like Go and Python or representational state transfer (RESTful) APIs to manage storage. This includes control over how storage is allocated, consumed, encrypted, backed up, and managed across multiple clouds.

The update also includes automatic storage provisioning for VMware’s vSphere and Pivotal Container Service for Kubernetes (PKS) private clouds. This allows vSphere users to decouple compute from storage and the ability to scale compute without impacting data availability or migration. For PKS users, stateful applications running in a cluster can now be scaled when backed by Portworx volumes.

Portworx also supports the major cloud providers and their respective Kubernetes offerings. And it supports cloud agnostic container orchestration systems like Red Hat OpenShift, Mesosphere DC/OS, Docker Enterprise Edition, HashiCorp Nomad, and Heptio.

Portworx co-founder and CTO Gou Rao explained that the company’s platform takes into account the distributed storage nature of modern applications running across different clouds and container environments.

“Modern applications that are managed as containers are distributed in nature, running on different hosts,” Rao explained via email. “All of the storage functionality provided by Portworx takes into account the inherent distributed nature of modern applications.”

Rao also said that the latest updates bolster the company’s position versus its rival in being able to provide the scaling needed to support growing use of distributed storage platforms.

“We believe that we have more production experience running stateful services like databases in production of any cloud native storage solution,” Rao said. “There are many companies that are rightly talking about making it possible to run mission-critical stateful services in containers. Portworx is the company that is doing it at scale for customers today.”

Others in the space include Robin Systems, which last month added a Kubernetes layer to its platform to deal with stateful container applications running on premises or in a public cloud. That platform is focused on storage management for big data, stateful databases, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning applications.

Container Storage

Containers were initially viewed as a perfect match for stateless applications that did not require stored data to operate or support a running application. These were typically web services that acted as a go-between for any storage needs. Any actual storage within a stateless container was ephemeral, and thus a restart flushed out stored data.

However, as container use cases have evolved, stateful models have matured. These allow containers to maintain stored data even if a container is restarted and can support more developed applications. This model has become critical for enterprises that are running more advanced applications within containers.

This has drawn considerable interest in developing platforms that can provide containers with a stateful storage option.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) earlier this year added the Rook project to its fold, which was the organization’s first storage-based project. Rook brings file, block, and object storage systems into the Kubernetes cluster as opposed to relying on an external storage source. This allows the systems to run alongside other applications that use their data, and it makes the cloud-native cluster portable across public and private clouds.

There are more than two dozen storage-related Kubernetes vendors that are part of CNCF’s landscape map.

Portworx itself also launched an open source stateful storage project, which it dubbed the Storage Orchestrator Runtime for Kubernetes (STORK). It uses a plugin interface to communicate with storage drivers that allows it to work with any Kubernetes storage driver. The vendor is looking to move that platform to CNCF.

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