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Enable containerized enterprise application SLAs using storage profiles.

Team Members: Madhuri Yechuri (ClusterHQ), Ryan Wallner (EMC), Sean McGinnis (Dell)


Enterprise applications have SLA needs with respect to storage. For example, a database application and a log analytics application are not created equal. Top of the line storage providers have knobs to deliver application-specific SLA needs. What is missing from this equation is the ability to have a mapping of application SLA to backend storage feature set needed to service the SLA.


We followed below guidelines:

Flow SLAs top down

We considered the following options:

  • Expose all the storage knobs (IOPS, type of storage (SSD/HDD), compression, replication factor, dedup, etc) up to the application (docker-compose) manifest.
  • Bring application's storage requirements (high performance, security, don't care, etc) down to storage.

We went with option 2 because it offered cleaner design.

We defined profile as a name that describes the set of storage features most important to the application. We propose two profiles in this POC:

  • default: application does not care about storage characteristics. We manifest cheapest storage option for this profile.
  • gold: application's SLA depends on high (IOPS) storage performance. We provide suitable storage that will satisfy application's performance needs.

Single click activation

We recommend using FlockerProfiles with Docker Compose via Docker Flocker plugin.


docker run --name mongo -p 27017:27017 --volume-driver=flocker -v highperfvolume@gold:/data mongo:3.0.4

will create a high performance volume for MongoDB.

docker run --name testapp --volume-driver=flocker -v cheapvolume@default:/data busybox sh -c "echo hello > /data/state.txt"

will create a cheap volume for your test container.

The minimal change from existing functionality is that instead of specifying volume as -v name:/data, you would tag along profile as -v name@profile:/data. For backward compatibility and ease of use, not specifying a profile defaults to a default profile: -v name@default:/data is equivalent to -v name:/data.


FlockerProfiles on EBS

The intepretation of gold and default will vary from backend to backend, the details of which will be made available to schedulers upon request. For example, gold profile will translate to the following settings.

Amazon EBS

IOPS: volume_size*30
encrypted: True
volume_type: io1


volume_type: thin_provision
IOPS: 10000
bandwidth: 1000000
ram_cache: True




min: 100
max: 1000 level: 5
local: Yes #node: alpha1 provision: thin service:
- compression: disabled
- dedupe: disabled
- encryption: disabled
- high-availability: disabled - replication: disabled
destination: none interval: 120
type: synchronous
- snapshot: disabled start: 1440 interval: 60
max: 10
type: SSD

The advantage of using a FlockerProfile is that these individual settings are masked out to the user. As far as the user (application) is concerned, gold will provide a volume suitable for high performance workloads.

Prototype Implementations

We demostrate our POC using 3 popular storage enviroments: Amazon EBS, EMC ScaleIO, and OpenStack Cinder.

Amazon EBS

Flocker support and EBS implementation


ScaleIO Prototype

OpenStack Cinder

Cinder Prototype

Whats next

Add Flocker profiles to Flocker Control Service's http endpoints:

  • GET /v1/configuration/profiles to get all existing Flocker profiles across storage backends.
  • POST /v1/configuration/profiles to create/update a Flocker profile.

Update Flocker node agent to react to profile changes to a given dataset (volume)

If user (scheduler) updates a volume's existing profile, have Flocker dataset agent fire apply_profile to update volume settings on the storage backend.

Open Issues

  • Testing profiles with docker run on AWS Ubuntu 14.04 ran into this issue:
docker run --rm --volume-driver=flocker -v cheapvolume@/data busybox sh

hangs with the following symptoms

root@ip-172-31-1-54:~# ps -ef | grep "docker run"
root      9444  8851  0 04:25 pts/0    00:00:00 docker run -d -v t6:/d6 --volume-driver=flocker busybox sh
root      9576  9559  0 04:36 pts/5    00:00:00 grep --color=auto docker run
root@ip-172-31-1-54:~# strace -p 9444
Process 9444 attached
root@ip-172-31-1-54:/proc/9444/fd# ls
0  1  2  3  4
root@ip-172-31-1-54:/proc/9444/fd# ls -la 4
lrwx------ 1 root root 64 Sep 21 04:27 4 -> anon_inode:[eventpoll]
root@ip-172-31-1-54:/proc/9444/fd# cd ../fdinfo
root@ip-172-31-1-54:/proc/9444/fdinfo# cat 4
pos:    0
flags:  02000002
tfd:        3 events: 8000201d data:     7f837fb60340


We thank:

  • ClusterHQ, EMC, and Dell for facilitating productive collaboration.

  • Docker Inc for providing venue for prototyping our collective thoughts and encouraging innovation.

  • David Calavera (Docker) for feedback on the idea at SF Hack Day Kickoff.