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Science and technology

Running storage companies on Kubernetes

With the arrival of containers, it is a good time to rethink storage utterly. As functions now include unstable units of loosely coupled microservices operating in containers, ever-changing in scale, continuously being up to date and re-deployed, and at all times evolving, the normal mindset of serving storage and information companies should change.

Kubernetes paved the way in which to allow a majority of these functions by making it cheap and manageable to run the a whole lot of container cases that make up an software. Likewise, software-defined storage (SDS) made operating dozens of techniques that make up a extremely elastic storage system serving a whole lot of volumes/LUNs to many consumers viable and manageable. Now is an ideal time to mix these two techniques.


Kubernetes runs containers at scale, and GlusterFS runs storage at scale. Both are completely software-defined scale-out approaches offering the best basis for next-generation workloads. With GlusterFS operating on high of Kubernetes, you will have a common infrastructure stack that’s obtainable in bare-metal deployments, on-premise virtualization environments, in addition to non-public and public clouds—principally, in every single place Linux runs.

GlusterFS is software-defined, scale-out, POSIX-compatible file storage. Gluster runs on industry-standard servers, VMs, or containers, and virtualizes the regionally connected storage right into a single elastic pool that often is accessed through a local community protocol, or alternatively SMB3 or NFS. For container workloads, iSCSI block storage and S3 object entry protocols have been added.

Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform at coronary heart, that includes automated deployment, scaling, and administration of containerized functions. Kubernetes can flip a cluster of Linux techniques into a versatile software platform that gives compute, storage, networking, deployment routines, and availability administration to containers. Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform builds upon Kubernetes to supply a strong PaaS, prepared to show builders’ code into functions operating in check, improvement, and manufacturing.

Kubernetes with conventional storage

Kubernetes helps the usage of current legacy scale-up storage techniques, corresponding to SAN arrays. Going this route can result in a few challenges:

  1. The current storage system shouldn’t be API-driven, however constructed for human administration completely. In this case, correctly integrating with the dynamic storage provisioning capabilities on Kubernetes, wherein software cases (and thus storage) must be provisioned on the fly, shouldn’t be attainable. Users—and Kubernetes on their behalf—can not request storage ad-hoc from a backend utilizing the Kubernetes API as a result of there isn’t any storage provisioning API, and provisioning on these legacy storage techniques is often a static and prolonged course of. This is often the case for NFS-, iSCSI-, or FC-based storage.

    In the absence of automation, an administrator as a substitute should guess storage demand on a per-volume foundation upfront, provision, and expose these to Kubernetes manually, after which continuously monitor how the precise demand matches the provision estimate. That is not going to scale and virtually definitely ensures unhappiness for each builders and operators alike.

  2. The different situation is that current storage is one way or the other tied into Kubernetes-automated provisioning, however it was not designed to scale to the variety of storage customers sometimes run on Kubernetes. The storage system might have been optimized for a use case involving a hypervisor, wherein often you find yourself serving dozens (to in uncommon circumstances a whole lot) of volumes of predictable sizes as data-stores. With Kubernetes, this will and can simply go into the a whole lot to hundreds of volumes, as a result of they’re often consumed on a per-container foundation. Most storage techniques probably shall be restricted to quite a lot of volumes at a stage, which isn’t appropriate for the parallelism and consumption to be anticipated by Kubernetes.

Kubernetes with software-defined storage

Using conventional storage with Kubernetes is at finest a short-term choice to bridge the time to the following procurement cycle. At this stage, you’ll enter the promising land of software-defined storage with techniques which have been constructed with scale and automation in thoughts. Here you’ll find that there are various options that carry the “ready for containers” label. Lots of the options, nevertheless, will not be appropriate for containers, as a result of they’ve a legacy implementation below the hood geared toward digital machines as a substitute of containers.

In the open supply house, GlusterFS is a well known venture constructed with scale in thoughts and has been operating in manufacturing techniques all around the world for years.

GlusterFS on Kubernetes

GlusterFS not solely supplies storage to workloads on Kubernetes with proper dynamic provisioning, but additionally runs on high of Kubernetes alongside different workloads. This is what gluster-kubernetes is about—it places the GlusterFS software program binaries in containers and runs them as Kubernetes pods (the Kubernetes abstraction of containers) with entry to host networking and storage on all or a subset of the cluster nodes to supply file, block, and even object storage. This is completely managed by the Kubernetes management airplane.

Using GlusterFS this manner with Kubernetes comes with a few distinct benefits. First, storage—software-defined or not—when operating exterior of Kubernetes, is at all times one thing that you need to drag together with the platform. Storage is a system that comes with its personal administration, should be supported within the setting wherein Kubernetes is deployed, should be put in on further techniques, and has its personal set up process, packaging, availability administration, and so forth.

At this level, successfully what you might be doing is studying but a further system to manage whereas duplicating most of the capabilities Kubernetes already supplies out-of-the-box to scale-out functions—simply to run software-defined storage, which is merely one other scale-out software.

With GlusterFS on Kubernetes, the latter will take over scheduling your SDS software program processes in containers and ensures that at all times sufficient cases are operating whereas additionally offering them with entry to ample community, CPU, and disk sources. For this goal, a GlusterFS picture has been made obtainable to run in an OCI-compatible container runtime.

Second, when put in inside a VM, cloud occasion, or bare-metal server, most SDS applied sciences require particular procedures to arrange, that are completely different for all these environments. Many options will not be even supported on all these deployment choices, which hinders your Kubernetes adoption in conditions wherein you wish to use multiple (corresponding to hybrid cloud, a number of public clouds, and so on).

GlusterFS can run on all three flavors plus all public cloud suppliers, and is abstracted on a high-enough layer (Linux OS, TCP/IP stack, LVM2, block units) in order that it virtually doesn’t care what is definitely beneath the floor.

Putting GlusterFS on high of Kubernetes makes issues even simpler: the installation and configuration procedure is precisely the identical, irrespective of the place you deploy, as a result of it is utterly abstracted by Kubernetes. Updates turn out to be a breeze when it is merely a matter of a brand new model of the container picture being launched, updating the prevailing fleet in a rolling trend.

Third, particularly on cloud suppliers, with GlusterFS on high of Kubernetes you’ll be able to depend on a typical feature-set it doesn’t matter what the underlying platform seems like. In the cloud, the compute community and storage sources are literally localized in a number of availability zones. This shouldn’t be at all times apparent for software builders. Cloud storage, particularly when it is primarily based on block units, sometimes shouldn’t be replicated throughout these availability zones.

By counting on this, whereas Kubernetes versatile scheduling would simply restart your pods in one other zone in case of the whole lack of an availability zone, your cloud supplier storage wouldn’t journey with it, and so your software could be of no worth.

GlusterFS-integrated replication works nice throughout availability zones (supported at as much as 5ms round-trip time, noting that common latency between widespread cloud suppliers availability zones is way decrease). You can instruct GlusterFS on Kubernetes to run a minimum of one container occasion of GlusterFS in every zone, thereby distributing redundant copies of the info throughout a whole area on each write operation. Here, a failure of 1 web site/zone is clear to the storage customers and as soon as introduced again up (once more, with assist of Kubernetes scheduling) automated self-healing commences within the background.

Finally, as described earlier, it might be the case that you just attempt to leverage current SAN storage on-premise for use by workloads on Kubernetes. GlusterFS will help you make them container-ready. GlusterFS offers with regionally obtainable storage on a Linux host, which in flip can come from an area SATA / SAS interface in addition to a FibreChannel LUN. When you current the latter to your Kubernetes nodes you will have all you want for GlusterFS on Kubernetes.

This means GlusterFS can bridge the hole for these storage techniques to be successfully utilized by containers. Ideal price footprint is, after all, achieved when utilizing native storage ultimately.

Implications and caveats

Of course, there will not be solely upsides but additionally some challenges with this method. Some of which shall be overcome over time.

Currently, the implementation of GlusterFS on Kubernetes consists of pods, that run the glusterd software program daemon which supplies its storage companies over well-known community ports. These ports will not be configurable by the installer nor with the purchasers and so, one pod operating on a bunch will occupy these ports completely—successfully making it inconceivable to run one other GlusterFS pod on that system.

Also, as of but, Kubernetes doesn’t have the flexibility to present block storage directly to containers. GlusterFS, nevertheless, wants direct entry to dam storage, additionally when run in a container. Hence GlusterFS pods, for now, must run as super-privileged containers with elevated permissions to straight entry the block units.

Also, the minimal quantity of nodes for a manufacturing cluster is three. More nodes are attainable however lower than that may put your information in danger: with one copy of your information, held by a single GlusterFS pod on a single node offers you a single level of failure. Two copies in two pods on two nodes are susceptible to split-brain conditions as GlusterFS requires (and can implement) quorum to make sure information consistency. When you lose one out of the 2 pods, your information shall be intact however read-only.— Only with three or extra pods, your information is replicated three instances making it proof against loss or inconsistency attributable to outages. So you have to a minimum of three Kubernetes nodes to begin with.

Beyond the mere technical facet, on the subject of working such a platform, this can even current new views to operations: Storage groups, or usually ops groups, must get acquainted not solely easy methods to deploy and run Kubernetes, but additionally easy methods to run infrastructure software program on high of it. Fortunately, because it seems, most of the basic administrative operations are already taken care of by Kubernetes.

There can be a sure diploma of releasing management on “who gets how much and when” on the planet of Kubernetes have been builders are getting self-service entry to compute sources and networking. And to storage capability on demand alongside the way in which. Instead of a basic, ticket-based approval course of to get further capability (which may take hours to days), there may be now a dynamic provisioning sequence with no human interplay (which simply takes seconds).

Finally, the storage world in Kubernetes is pretty new and thrilling. Many options that basic platforms count on from storage, like snapshots, replication or tiering will not be but obtainable in Kubernetes’ easy abstraction mannequin of PersistentVolumes (the principle logical entity Kubernetes by which it represents storage to customers and containers) and PersistentVolumeClaims (a method to request storage in Kubernetes). So whereas GlusterFS is definitely able to offering these options (e.g. snapshots, geo-replication, and so on.), they aren’t but obtainable via the Kubernetes API. The GlusterFS group is working carefully with the Storage SIG within the Kubernetes group to steadily implement these ideas.

Should you have an interest?

If you want to undertake the advantages of containers, introduce and help a DevOps tradition in your group, run micro-services or usually attempt to get company IT to supply extra rapid worth to the enterprise by shortening the time to market, you’ll a minimum of consider Kubernetes. When you undertake it, it will not be lengthy till stateful functions discover their means into the cluster—and with that the necessity for sturdy, persistent storage. Will databases be amongst these functions? Very probably. Or workloads, that share massive content material repositories or such that eat object storage? In both of these circumstances, you must undoubtedly check out gluster-kubernetes.

Consequently, when you’ve got solely stateless functions or all of your functions handle storage and it is consistency completely themselves, gluster-kubernetes is not going to provide you with further advantages. It is nevertheless impossible that you’ve a cluster like this.


GlusterFS on Kubernetes supplies a swiss-army knife method to trendy computing which requires sturdy storage now greater than ever and at a lot increased scale and velocity. It integrates completely with Kubernetes and Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform and supplies a constant feature-set of storage companies irrespective of the place and the way Kubernetes is deployed. It insulates you from all of the completely different implementations and limitations in numerous environments whereas it naturally enhances the prevailing compute and networking companies already supplied by Kubernetes. At the identical time, it follows the identical design precept that Kubernetes encourages: software-defined scale-out, primarily based on companies distributed in containers throughout a cluster of commodity techniques.

To be taught extra, attend the speak You Have Stateful Apps – What if Kubernetes Would Also Run Your Storage? at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, which shall be held December 6-Eight in Austin, Texas.

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