Microsoft Eases Docker Container Migrations With Cloud Storage Plug-in

The new Docker Volume Plugin for Azure File Storage plug-in makes Docker containers less reliant on a host's storage.

Docker container

Microsoft has released new software that provides Docker developers and administrators with more container portability on Azure.

The open-source Docker Volume Plugin for Azure File Storage—the source code of which is available on GitHub—uses Azure File Storage on Linux's support of the Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 protocol to disassociate Docker container data volumes from their host's storage. In a typical deployment, a directory on the Docker host machine serves as the Docker container volume, complicating matters when users want to move containers between hosts.

Now, Microsoft customers can use Azure File Storage instead, announced Ahmet Alp Balkan, a software engineer for Microsoft Azure Linux and designer of the software giant's new employee badges, in a company blog post. "With the Azure File Storage plug-in, we can mount Azure File Storage shares as directories on your host's file system and make it available to containers, which can now all make use of the Docker volume created through the plug-in," he wrote.

Container migrations aside, Microsoft envisions that the plug-in will open up new use cases. It can be used to upload application logs to file share, making diagnostics data and metrics available for further processing by other software. Docker containers on multiple hosts can share the same configuration data or collaborate on workloads.

Currently, the Docker Volume Plugin for Azure File requires Ubuntu Server 14.04 or above. An asciinema demo (recorded terminal session) of the plug-in is available in Alp Balkan's blog post.

Seeking to improve the efficiency and agility of the business app development and deployment processes, enterprises have been flocking to Docker and other lightweight container virtualization solutions. Launched three years ago, the Docker application containerization platform quickly gained favor with IT executives looking to improve DevOps, float cloud applications and maximize their server investments.

Microsoft, expanding its enterprise cloud capabilities, was quick to get on board.

The company's Azure cloud computing platform has supported the Docker technology since June 2014. In October of that same year, Docker's lead commercial sponsor, Docker Inc., announced a partnership to add support for the technology to Windows Server.

Improving Container Security

With last month's release of Docker 1.10, the open-source container platform got a major boost in terms of security. The new version features secure computing (seccomp) integration and support for user namespaces.

"With seccomp, the administrator can limit which system calls are permitted by an application similar to how a firewall limits which ports can be used. This allows the administrator to profile an application and only allow it to do the things it should be doing," Scott McCarty, Linux container evangelist at Red Hat, told eWEEK's Sean Michael Kerner.

As containers proliferate across corporate data centers, expect container security to compete with the Internet of things for the attention of CIOs in 2016. Fortunately, software makers are already on the case. Clair 1.0 from CoreOS, for example, helps organizations detect vulnerabilities in their container images.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...