While there’s no doubt that the proliferation of containers has profound implications for IT organizations less clear is the degree to which containers will drive those IT organizations to invest in new hardware platforms optimized to run them.
Today Diamanti (formerly known as Datawise.io) exited “stealthmode” to announce that a converged appliance running Linux that unifies compute, networking and storage resources is now available in beta. Diamanti CEO Jeff Chou says containers today typically require IT organizations to set up convoluted paths for connectivity, while on the storage side they need an approach that can support both stateless and stateful applications that require persistence.
Chou says that much like other converged platforms a Diamanti appliance separates the management plane from the underlying infrastructure resources in a way that enables an IT generalist to holistically provision resources. Backed by $12.5 million in funding from a variety of venture capital firms, Chou says this approach not only gives IT organization more control over the underlying infrastructure resources, it also enables IT organizations to better guarantee service levels for a particular container application. In fact, Diamanti claims it appliance will deliver a 10X improvement in I/O throughput and latency.
In addition, Chou notes that the density of containers on any given system creates a “noisy neighbor” issue that results in a lot of contention for system resources. The Diamanti appliance is designed to give IT organizations more control over how infrastructure resources are isolated across any given set of container applications.
Rather than requiring IT administrators to learn how to program IT infrastructure using tools such as Puppet or Chef, Chou says Diamanti presents the IT administrator with a set of declarative tools that enables them to set policies at a much higher level of abstraction.
To make that possible Diamanti has made a series of contributions to the open source Kubernetes container management framework. Specifically, Diamanti’s FlexVolume contribution automates IO configuration based on user-defined requirements. Diamanti’s scheduler contribution enables the Kubernetes scheduler to factor storage and networking requirements when placing workloads, leveraging a declarative model for developers and container administrators.
Diamanti is the latest in a broad swath of vendor to jump into a converged infrastructure market that Gartner says will be valued at $10.6 billion by 2020. Less clear is how much of that market will be specifically driven by container applications. In general, Chou concedes that many IT organizations are deploying containers on top of existing virtual machines in order to manage them on existing legacy systems that might not depreciate in vale for several years yet.
At the same time, however, Chou notes that running containers on top of virtual machines defeats the purpose of moving to a lighter-weight container model that provides significantly higher utilization rates than virtual machines can achieve on the same infrastructure. As such, Chou contends it’s now just a matter of time before the majority of IT organizations move large numbers of application workloads built using containers on to bare metal servers.
Of course, existing providers of converged infrastructure such as Cisco, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are not likely to ignore the implications of containers. But Diamanti has already claimed NBCUniversal as a customer. That might suggest that existing IT converged infrastructure vendors just might be too optimized for virtual machines at a time when a major shift towards containers is just now getting underway.