Server SAN vendor Springpath is leveraging Docker Containers to provide storage services as part of its architecture. The implementation shows microservices the potential in the traditional data center. Springpath takes a completely abstracted approach to their storage service. Individual Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA) and Docker Containers can provide members for a storage cluster. The abstraction means that a cluster can consist of virtually any combination of storage from bare metal servers running Docker or Hypervisor hosted VSAs. Technically a high-end storage array that has a built-in hypervisor would have the ability to support this container model. While I can’t think of a practical use case, the design shows the power of microservices in the data center.

Containers and the resulting microservices that they run offer a unique opportunity to evolve data center services. The Springpath use case is just one but as x86 based workloads start to infiltrate the data center, I can see this architecture creeping into the rest of the infrastructure. Since containers are lightweight compared to VM’s the services can live closer to the resources they serve. For example, top of the rack switches with x86 processors such as those from Pluribus could run OpenStack Nova controllers. (Note: Pluribus currently supports OpenStack controllers running as traditional Linux application running on it’s hardware.) Nova controllers become elastic based on the existing provisioning load.

I also believe that Microsoft’s announcement of Windows Nano Server brings benefits of this microservice architecture closer to other data center services. Projecting further out, think of the possibilities of combining Windows Nano Server with HP Moonshot chassis and a data center controller such as Mesophere. Images deploy to individual cartridges as the need for a service balloons. I’m excited about the potential of microservices being carried via light weight images be it Windows Nano Server or containers.

 

The potential of microservices within the data center
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