Zadara Storage-as-a-Service Runs Docker Containers Directly Inside Storage

Storage-as-a-service provider Zadara Storage this week unveiled technology to embed Docker containers into its storage arrays as a way to maximize the performance of applications in the containers.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company also made it easier for customers to automate backups of their data to Amazon S3.

The integration of Docker containers into Zadara Storage's Virtual Private Storage Array solution, which allows the building of SAN and NAS infrastructures using cloud-based storage, provides an extra measure of performance and availability to containerized applications, said Zadara COO Noam Shendar.

[Related: Startup Docker Now Driving Industry Effort To Develop Standard For Containers]

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"We're integrating open source Docker technology into our storage servers so that the containers run in the same virtual machines of the same hardware our customers are using to run their current storage," Shendar told CRN.

The new solution, called Zadara Container Services, does not officially use "Docker" in the title, Shendar said. "Docker doesn't let anybody use the 'Docker' name in their products," he said.

Zadara Container Services gives customers the high availability, flexibility and storage persistence they've come to expect from traditional storage infrastructures, Shendar said.

"Docker itself doesn't get close to the storage, and doesn't provide high availability," he said. "Prior to this, you could attach Docker to any storage connected to the server running Docker. But you didn't get low latency. Or you could run it inside a hyper-converged infrastructure solution, but you wouldn't get the latency."

By running the containers on Zadara's dual-controller storage arrays, customers get high availability because if a controller fails over, the Docker container fails over with it, Shendar said.

"Docker does not inherently include high availability," he said. "We give it high availability. And since the containers are sitting inside the storage arrays, there's no performance issues from traveling over a network between the server and storage."

It is a no-compromise solution, Shendar said. "To our knowledge, we're the only vendor to allow customers to run arbitrary container workloads in the storage arrays," he said.

Larry Hess, CTO of cloud computing at Steel Orca, a Princeton, N.J.-based colo provider, MSP and cloud services provider, told CRN his company has already presented the Docker container solution on Zadara's Virtual Private Storage Array to customers in the banking and analytics areas.

"As an MSP and a colo provider, we have customers who have racks in our facility," he said. "Adding containers to Zadara eliminates a lot of storage redundancy and saves customers money by embedding the application in the storage."

The new Zadara Container Services is Steel Orca's first move into containers, Hess said. "Before, we hard-wired customers' apps to the storage," he said. "Docker containers take away concerns about traditional storage costs. There's no need for a $5,000 to $8,000 virtual machine for the application, plus $5,000 to $8,000 for a virtual machine for disaster recovery, in addition to the cost of power and cooling in the rack."

Zadara Container Services is being rolled out incrementally over Zadara's different geographies over the next 30 days.

Customers running Zadara's Virtual Private Storage Array in the cloud can add Zadara Container Services with limited capabilities at no charge, or on a per-hour subscription basis with charges depending on how many resources are needed, Shendar said.

Also new from Zadara Storage is automatic backups to Amazon S3 and compatible clouds.

Shendar said the Backup To Amazon S3 feature takes advantage of snapshot-based, continuous and incremental backups from Virtual Private Storage Array to send data to Amazon Elastic Block Store or any compatible services.

"It's push-button simple," he said. "Yes or no. It uses existing snapshots to back data up to S3. Customers can restore data to anywhere for free, and so there is no concern about cloud lock-in."