Microsoft has added new support to its Azure cloud platform that allows Docker containers to have data volumes that are separate from their host. The move makes it easier to migrate containers between hosts, according to the firm, and further demonstrates Microsoft's new-found enthusiasm for open source technology.
The latest support comes in the shape of the Docker Volume Plugin for Azure File Storage, the latter being Microsoft's cloud-based managed file share service based on the standard SMB 3.0 protocol that it introduced on Azure last autumn.
The open source Docker plugin allows Docker containers to have data volumes that are stored outside of the virtual machine they are hosted on, and therefore makes it easy to migrate containers between hosts while preserving their state intact, Microsoft said.
"A standard Docker container volume is normally a directory stored on the Docker host machine. This makes the container dependent on the files on a particular host and thus makes it hard to migrate and scale out easily," said Microsoft's Ahmet Alp Balkan, software engineer for Azure Linux.
"With the Azure File Storage plugin, 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 plugin," he added.
The upshot of this is that Docker containers can not only have access to persistent file storage that is independent of the host machine they are running on, but can also have a data volume that can be shared among multiple containers, even if those containers happen to running on different hosts.
Microsoft said that the Docker Volume Plugin for Azure File Storage is currently supported for container hosts running Ubuntu Server versions 14.04 and above. The source code and installation instructions for the plugin can be found on GitHub.
The move is just the latest in a series of announcements from Microsoft that have involved either Linux or open source software. Last week, Microsoft announced it would be introducing a version of its SQL Server database platform on Linux, and the firm is now offering Red Hat Enterprise Server instances on Azure.
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