Pure Storage Automates Container Storage Provisioning

Pure Storage this week announced the general availability of its Pure Service Orchestrator tool, which automates the provisioning of storage for containerized applications.

Sandeep Singh, senior director for solutions marketing at Pure Storage, says the ephemeral nature of containers that are frequently replaced within the context of a microservice requires a more dynamic approach to make persistent storage available as a true service. To achieve that goal, Pure Storage has created a provisioning tool that enables administrators to make storage available using policies that can be determined based on performance, capacity or the robustness of the underlying storage system.

Those systems can make available of mix of file and block storage using any combination of service FlashArray and FlashBlade arrays from Pure Storage, Singh says. In the event of a storage node failure or a performance issue, Pure Service Orchestrator will automatically re-provision those arrays. Pure Storage already provides support for both the Docker volume plug-in and the Kubernetes FlexDriver to make storage resources available directly to containers.

Singh notes Pure Storage is seeing a lot more interest in deploying containers on bare-metal servers to access storage versus relying on existing virtual machines to deploy them. Virtual machines provide a means to access persistent storage. But as the number of containers deployed in an environment increases, density issues start to impact I/O performance. Addressing that issue requires containers to be able to dynamically invoke storage systems that are designed to dynamically scale-out as the number of I/O requests increase, he says.

Pure Storage is committed to making additional investments to help optimize storage performance and availability for containerized applications such as enable dynamic migration of application workloads, says Singh. But for now, Pure Storage is betting that as storage administrators become more familiar with the dynamic nature of containers, provisioning will be the first issue addressed.

In terms of stateful applications being built using containers that need to access persistent storage, it’s still early days. Most containers today are deployed on virtual machines. But as containerized applications start showing up in production environments, there’s an increased interest in deploying them on bare-metal servers to improve performance, reduce overhead and potentially lower cost by eliminating the need for commercial virtual machine software. That shift will make the need for new approaches to storage all but inevitable. Hundreds of containers deployed on a bare-metal server create significant potential for contention when it comes to accessing storage resources. Most storage administrators today may not yet be familiar with the attributes of containers, but as containers continue to proliferate across the enterprise most storage administrators will find there’s a need to rely more on automation tools to dynamically manage an increasingly complex environment using policies defined by the IT administrator. After all, most organizations are not going to hire additional storage administrators to support containerized applications.

In the meantime, savvy storage administrators would be well-advised to start informing senior IT leaders now about the need for a new approach to storage before the IT budget for next year gets set in stone.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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