Dell's REX-Ray, A Storage Orchestrator for Docker, Embraces CSI Specs

The tool from Dell Technologies' {code} project for managing persistent storage for Docker containers, is said to be the first to leverage Container Storage Interface. Organizations seeking to test it out can access the current development code from GitHub.

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

September 12, 2017

2 Min Read
Dell's REX-Ray, A Storage Orchestrator for Docker, Embraces CSI Specs

Storing data persistently inside Docker containers remains difficult.

A storage orchestrator from Dell Technologies, REX-Ray, hopes to solve that challenge.

Docker containers are great if you want to host “stateless” applications — meaning those that don’t need to store data permanently or otherwise maintain a persistent state.

But for “stateful” apps that require data storage, Docker is more challenging.

Docker offers a feature called Storage Volumes for connecting a containerized application to persistent storage.

However, configuring Storage Volumes is complex and not feasible to do on a large scale without the assistance of automation.

To use containers effectively at scale, developers need a way to automate Storage Volumes configuration or another kind of persistent storage solution for Docker.

REX-Ray, a “Storage Orchestrator” for Docker Containers

This is where REX-Ray comes in.

Dell Technologies’s {code} organization, which develops open source technologies with Dell’s support, announced the 0.10 release of REX-Ray this week.

The developers describe REX-Ray as a “storage orchestrator” for Docker.

The tool automates the process of connecting containerized applications to persistent storage.

REX-Ray supports the storage systems that are commonly used with cloud-native applications, such as NFS and block devices.

Embracing Open Standards for Container Storage

REX-Ray’s developers say that it is the first project to support the Container Storage Interface (CSI), a proposed industry standard.

The CSI proposal is still under discussion and has not been widely endorsed by other organizations in the container ecosystem.

REX-Ray has competition.

Portworx is probably the leading alternative to REX-Ray.

ClusterHQ, a persistent storage company focused on the container space that shut down late last year, left behind Flocker, which lives on as an open source project.

Yet REX-Ray’s approach to persistent container storage is somewhat more “pure-play” than those of other vendors.

REX-Ray wants to advance a community standard.

It’s not building a major commercial offering (at least yet).

At version 0.10, REX-Ray is not yet ready for production.

However, organizations seeking to test it out can grab the current development code from GitHub.

Click here to view a GIF explainer on REX-Ray.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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