Virtualization Technology News and Information
Q&A: Interview with ClusterHQ, Solving Container-Based Challenges with Flocker

Containers have been around for many years, but recently, we've witnessed a resurgence in this technology thanks in large part to Docker, a technology that's spawning quite a few new start-ups.  One company you might not yet be familiar with is ClusterHQ, and they recently launched a new product called Flocker.  But don't let the new company name and product fool you... these guys have been around this technology for quite some time.  So to find out more, I spoke with Luke Marsden, the founder and CEO of ClusterHQ. 

VMblog:  It's great to speak with you. Can you please give us an introduction to ClusterHQ and the company's latest news?

Luke Marsden:  ClusterHQ evolved originally from a company called HybridCluster. We started that company five years ago to address the needs of the hosting industry to run websites and applications, including their databases, reliably in a distributed system with no single points of failure. We put together a world-class team of experts in containers, storage and networking to develop this innovative solution.

Our original platform was built on the FreeBSD operating system using a container technology called Jails. Since then, Linux containers and Docker have exploded. We're now taking our five years of experience combining resilient distributed storage with containers and refocusing the company on solving these issues for Linux-based applications generally.

We've just unveiled Flocker, our flagship product for running databases inside Docker containers. Flocker is the only container management tool that allows developers to define their entire application, including its data-backed services, as a set of connected Docker containers and easily migrate them between hosts, even across different data centers.

VMblog:  How does Flocker impact the industry?

Marsden:  The container industry is exploding right now and there is a huge amount of interest in adopting container-based virtualization for all its benefits, from increased performance to application portability. Until now, however, it has been extremely difficult to run databases inside containers in a production environment because solutions for data migration, cloning and failover didn't yet exist. By solving the data problem for containers, we are removing one of the last great barriers to adoption for containers and expect to unleash a massive amount of pent up demand for containers and container-based PaaS as a result.

VMblog:  Explain if you will, how does Flocker work?

Marsden:  Modern applications consist of many moving parts, including a stateless application tier and a data tier made up of databases, key-value stores and queues. Currently, Docker and other container-based platforms only provide full support for the stateless application tier. Because data is at the heart of every application, Flocker allows a developer to define their entire application as a set of containers, deploy it across multiple hosts, and then easily migrate containers and their data volumes later when ops demands it, for instance, if a database needs to be updated to the latest version, or an entire machine fails.

VMblog:  So when will the new product be available?

Marsden:  Flocker was officially announced on August 13, and is currently available as open source project on GitHub: Our mission is to solve the operational problems that are preventing databases from being run in containers in production. We're looking forward to working with the community on solving this important issue.

VMblog:  Is there any other information that you'd like to share with readers?

Marsden:  Obviously, the entire ClusterHQ team is extremely excited about this announcement. We're thrilled to bring Flocker to market, and to hear the feedback and use cases we receive from our users. We appreciate their support and are committed to helping them run their container-based apps in production more efficiently.


Once again, thanks to Luke Marsden, founder and CEO at ClusterHQ, for sharing this information with 

Published Wednesday, August 13, 2014 6:46 AM by David Marshall
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