EMC Launches libStorage for Containerized Systems

EMC, which has been about containing and protecting data for more than a generation, now officially has a container strategy of its own.

With the rise of Docker, Mesosphere, Kubernetes, ContainerX, CoreOS and other container suppliers, it appears that the major IT vendors now need to have a container strategy to work into this fast-rising trend.

EMC, which has been about containing and protecting data for more than a generation, now officially has a container strategy of its own as of June 1.

On this day at the MesosCon conference in Denver, EMC introduced libStorage, a vendor- and platform-agnostic, open-source storage orchestration, model and application programming interface (API) released through the EMC {code} program. It provides universal and portable storage capabilities for container and application platforms.

Containers have been around for more than a decade but have seen a rebirth in the last three years as an alternative to conventional virtualization. Currently only available for Linux-based environments, containers resolve some of the problems typically associated with hypervisors and virtual machines.

Alternative to Hypervisors

Because of their fundamentally different architectures, containers do not require a hypervisor and thus provide better performance than applications running in virtual machines (VMs). They also can be transported from node to node a lot easier than VMs—a hugely redeeming quality.

This same architectural difference also results in faster provisioning of resources and quicker availability of new application instances. For organizations embracing a DevOps culture, this is a great fit because it allows development teams to streamline their develop-test-production processes.

Containers, an open-source project, are currently being provided by Docker, Google (Kubernetes), rkt (Rocket), Pivotal Garden, CoreOS Tectonic, Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System and Cloud Foundry.

EMC's approach is to bring storage and container platforms together, enabling compatible platforms to become immediately relevant in the open-source and container platform world.

Key Features of libStorage

libStorage features include:

-- A lightweight client package that enables minimal dependencies to provide full-featured storage functionality to platforms;
-- Optionally allows storage platforms to embed libStorage, creating native application integration;
-- Provides orchestration through a common model and API;
-- Brings a future foundation of simplified storage integration to heterogeneous open-source container platforms;
-- Enables unified management and communication between storage technology and heterogeneous container platforms;
-- Supports multiple platforms including Cloud Foundry, Apache Mesos, DC/OS, Docker and Kubernetes; and
-- Enables immediate relevancy to nascent container platforms.

Latest Contribution to Open-Source Community

libStorage is the latest project in a series of recent EMC contributions to the open-source community. In addition to multiple projects contributed through EMC {code}, EMC also has dedicated development resources and leadership to open-source communities and efforts such as Cloud Foundry and OpenStack.

Containers have been gaining attention as a valuable open source technology; however, each container platform is unique, and the technologies aren't unified for users. Additionally, users needed a seamless interface between storage and container platforms in addition to native interoperability. All of this had to be custom-coded until libStorage.

One of the most critical challenges with container deployments is communication: While several container platforms and their microservices may be running in an environment, each has its own language, requiring users to treat them as silos. libStorage provides centralized storage capabilities for a distributed, container-driven ecosystem, resulting in one storage language to speak with all container platforms and one common method of support.

Using libStorage ensures that storage platforms no longer differentiate among containers, but provide choice and portability of applications across platforms, according to EMC.

Bringing storage platforms together to standardize storage and data protection has always been a challenge for IT admins. The libStorage project represents an abstraction that is simple, yet extensible, for any storage platform, the company said.

libStorage is currently available on GitHub.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...