What Is Container-Native Storage?

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Container-native storage is a software-defined data storage solution that runs in containers on Kubernetes environments. Everything needed within an enterprise storage environment is isolated in the container without dependencies. Containers that store long-term data for applications are also called persistent volumes, and container-native storage is also known as persistent storage for containers. 

Also Read: Best Software-Defined Storage (SDS) Companies

How Does Container-Native Storage Work?

Container-native storage platforms create a virtual environment for applications that require persistent stored data to run. In a container-native storage environment, underlying hardware, like HDDs and NVMe SSDs, is virtualized in a pool. That storage pool is made available to Kubernetes applications; containers hold storage volumes and objects so that applications can run on their own, without requiring outside dependencies. 

Container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes have to manage containers in the storage environment, provisioning them and automatically allocating storage. 

Benefits of Container-Native Storage 

Container-native storage has similar advantages to containerized workloads: 

  • Portability: when running in containers, storage units can be easily transported between data center environments.
  • Isolation: because containers don’t have any dependencies, they run applications with everything the workload already needs. This includes storage volumes. 
  • Additional features: snapshots, data replication, and compression are for enterprise data protection, backup, or enhanced storage.

During the past five years, cloud-native developers have been shifting their focus to containers: not just for running active workloads, but also for storing data that applications require. Large IT infrastructures benefit immensely from containers, and container-native storage specifically, because:

  1. Software-defined solutions are the foreseeable future of data centers,
  2. Containers are extremely lightweight and take up less kernel or server space than virtual machines, and
  3. Containers make workload and application migration simpler.

Storage for containers provides similar benefits for enterprise data centers.

Container-native storage architectures also point to the future of computing: storage isn’t the only technology that is shifting to a isolation-and-portability approach. Edge computing draws data and applications from the data center and to smaller servers in more remote locations. Storage needs to move to the edge, too. Containerization heralds a future of easily portable applications and data. 

Container-native storage is also promising because it’s possible that storage resources could be dynamically allocated to the container when needed. Such an immediate supply of resources would be more flexible than legacy storage architectures. 

Containers are useful for the following applications:

  • Quickly reading and interpreting security data
  • Self-service banking, containerized to protect legacy systems
  • Machine learning training

Though container-native storage is a young technology and its uses have not fully evolved , the ability to store data and all its dependencies within a portable structure is incredibly useful for data centers and edge infrastructures, which require flexible workloads.

One note about security: according to Dell analysts, containers will be affected by any security flaw on the operating system kernel on which they run. That could include stored data, too. Though container-native storage is extremely useful, it’s not immune to threats.

Container-Native Storage Platforms 

Two major container-native storage solutions are offered by Red Hat OpenShift and Portworx Enterprise. 

Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage

Red Hat offers block, shared file, or object storage for application data and workloads. Container Storage provides persistent storage and data portability. Operators can quickly deploy OpenShift containers on a cluster. The solution can be deployed on AWS, VMware VSphere, bare metal infrastructure, Google Cloud, Azure, and more. 

Administrators manage storage resources, allocating them to core services and hosted applications. They also manage storage for hybrid and multicloud environments.

Portworx PX-Store

Portworx PX-Store, offered through Portworx’s parent organization Pure Storage, is a cloud-native solution for applications running in cloud, on-premises, hybrid, or multicloud environments. The solution is managed through Kubernetes and other container platforms, and it offers persistent storage for Kubernetes-run applications. 

Portworx pools data from existing hardware and storage networks within a Portworx or Pure Storage environment. It offers snapshots, replication, and error scanning.

Read Next: Top Container Software Solutions

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a staff writer for Enterprise Storage Forum and eSecurity Planet, where she covers data storage, cybersecurity and the top software and hardware solutions in the storage industry. She’s also written about containerization and data management. Previously, she wrote for Webopedia. Jenna has a bachelor's degree in writing and lives in middle Tennessee.

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