Koji Watanabe

Use Case of Hitachi Storage Plugin For Containers(HSPC)

Blog Post created by Koji Watanabe Employee on Jun 13, 2018


Hitachi released “Hitachi Storage Plug-in for Containers” (HSPC) as storage adapter for Docker in November of 2017. I am going to introduce the details of these use cases in this post.


This article covers:

  • Market trend of container technology
  • Challenge of Container
  • Overview of HSPC
  • Use cases of HSPC


Trends on Container Market

According 451 Research, the application container market will explode over the next five years. Annual revenue is expected to increase by 4x, growing from $749m in 2016 to more than $3.4bn by 2021, representing a CAGR of 35%.

More information: (https://451research.com/blog/1657-featured-insight)


According IDC forecast, nearly a billion of Containers in enterprise and public cloud will exist in the install base by 2020. (This forecast excludes web hyperscalers such as Google that were early pioneers of container technology and already run billions of containers.)

This shows that growth of the number of container instances is faster than growth of VMs , therefore tech people believe that containers will become a major virtual environment platform in the near future.

More Information: (https://community.hitachivantara.com/community/innovation-center/hus-place/blog/2017/11/03/hitachi-vantaras-approach-to-containers) 


Challenge of Containers

At the beginning of containers advent, it was often used by the stateless application, such as testing environment. However, as containers market expand, needs of containers has changed. Container users request “Persistent Storage” for the stateful application, such as database in the enterprise environment.


Then Docker corp provided “Docker Volume Plugin” framework, and the storage vendor started to develop and provide the plug-in. It enables Docker user to store the data and manage to the external storage in the docker environment.


Some surveys show that Persistent Storage has been one of the big challenges in Container storage.





Fig1. The challenges for running Container applications. (https://portworx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Portworx_Annual_Container_Adoption_Survey_2017_Report.pdf)


Container Solution from Hitachi

Hitachi released "Hitachi Storage Plug-in for Containers"(HSPC) as storage adapter for Docker in November 2017. This take advantage of storage functions considered the strength of Hitachi.

HSPC associates Docker Engine and Hitachi VSP G/F series. It enables the container to store and manage the persistent data. HSPC supports the container orchestrators, such as Docker Swarm and Kubernetes, OpenShift. It enables to manage the container clustering and scheduling across the multi-hosts.


If you would like to know more details of HSPC, please see the link below, since we will introduce the use cases of HSPC as main topic in this article.


The value of HSPC

Container was originally used in the stateless applications, but increase to use in the enterprise and stateful applications such as database.

Then we have investigated the use cases of the enterprise storage in the Docker environment based on competitor’s case and providing function. As result of that, we set up a hypothesis that there are three major use cases: “High Performance I/O”, “High Availability Configuration” and “Data Protection”. In this article, we will introduce the detail of these three use cases since HSPC enables Hitachi to provide these use cases.


High Performance I/O

HSPC integrates Hitachi VSP G/F series storage into Docker, and allows containers to use Hitachi storage high performance. Therefore, users can mount volume from host, and obtain the required performance demanded by data-intensive workloads such as database and big data analytics and video transcoding.

More Information: https://www.hitachivantara.com/en-us/products/storage/virtual-storage-platform-g-series.html


Fig2. HSPC enable multiple data and environment to access the Hitachi Storage


High Availability Configuration

Using HSPC with Hitachi VSP G/F series, users can failover containers to another host and reattach an existing data volume. This enables transparent failover of stateful applications. If you use Hitachi storage as the shared storage, you can achieve high availability.


The following steps is the example of failover:

  1. Container1 runs on Host1 with a volume.
  2. Host1 down occurs.
  3. Conatainer1 moves to Host2.
  4. The volume is reattached to Conatainer1.

The figure below shows the container failover with external storage attached by HSPC.



Fig3. Container failover with external storage attached by HSPC


Data Protection

HSPC allows Docker to use Hitachi storage features. HSPC has Hitachi specific data protection features such as HTI clone, Snapshot, restoring to protect data against unanticipated failures.


Example of “Data Protection” use case procedure: (This case shows create a snapshot temporarily, and restore the data from a snapshot of data such as for development use.)

  1. Create a HSPC volume.
  2. Run a container with the HSPC volume.
  3. Create a snapshot of the HSPC volume.
  4. Write wrong data to the attached HSPC volume on the container.
  5. Restore the data from the snapshot to rollback at step3.

The figure shows the HSPC snapshot and restore operation image.



Fig4. HSPC Snapshot Operation



Thank you for taking your time to read this article.

As containers become a major virtual environment platforms, the needs for stateful application is increasing, and the enterprise storage vendor started to provide the volume plug-in for Docker. Hitachi also releases the HSPC.

From the market survey, we found there are major three use cases (“High Performance I/O” , “High Availability Configuration”, “Data Protection”) of the enterprise storage in Docker environment. In this article, we introduced that we can cover these uses cases by HSPC.



Supported Configuration

  • Operating System: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0/7.1/7.2/7.3/7.4
  • Software
    • Docker: 1.13 or later for Docker Swarm and Kubernetes, 1.12 for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform
    • Kubernetes: 1.6 or 1.9
    • Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform: 3.7
    • Etcd: 3 or higher
    • Hitachi Configuration Manager: 8.5.2 or higher
  • Hardware
    • Storage: VSP Gx00 / VSP G1x00 / VSP Fx00 / VSP F1x00
    • Connectivity: Fibre Channel and iSCSI

Supported features

ProvisioningCreate VolumeYesYes
Inspect VolumeYesYes
List VolumesYesYes
Remove VolumesYesYes
CopyingCreate SnapshotYesNo
Restore SnapshotYesNo
Create CloneYesYes
High AvailabilityFailover with volumeYesYes


What's coming next...

I would like to introduce "the best practice guide of HSPC".

Stay tuned!!