Backup and Disaster Recovery Data Storage

Containers Are Temporary, Your Data Isn't: How Data Protection and Storage Factor Into Containerized Environments

September 7th, 2022

By David Lenz, Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Arcserve

As organizations implement application-modernization strategies, containers are becoming an increasingly essential technology. The numbers bear this out, with the global application container market expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2020 to $9.7 billion by 2027—a CAGR of 30 percent. In the Asia Pacific alone, the containerized data center market is predicted to reach nearly $1 billion by 2028.  

The technology continues to mature, but its benefits are evident as containers let you consolidate all your code into a single package that can be spun up quickly and seamlessly moved from one computing environment to another. Containers can also be spun down when their work is finished, so they don’t consume resources while sitting idle.

That’s a tremendous bonus for developers because containers now make it feasible to move an application from a testing environment to a live production environment—or migrate from a physical machine to a virtual machine (VM) in the cloud. Containers also let developers reuse code as they focus on building high-value software.

These benefits are just some drivers behind IDC’s projection that 80 percent of workloads will shift to containers by 2023. But containers bring two significant challenges: data storage and data protection. Containers are, by nature, temporary. Storage is typically permanent. As you quickly spin up and take down containers, you’ll likely find that the data lives on long after the container is gone.

Containers vs. Data Storage: Different Technologies, Different Rules

Data storage rules don’t work for containers, which are continuously created and destroyed. Instead, container data must be backed up and stored to protect against risks like system outages and data loss that can occur when migrating and deploying new applications.  

As you look to ramp up your container strategy, you need to understand that a robust and reliable data backup and recovery plan is a crucial part of that strategy. That’s common sense, given that any loss of mission-critical data—at any stage of a container’s development—can put your IT investments and more at risk. Active containers and containerized applications need a place to store and secure their current and historical data. Compliance and other requirements also mean container data must be stored and protected long after the container has been spun down.

The Shared Responsibility Model: Data Protection Is on You

It’s a common misunderstanding that if containers are stored in a cloud service, your data is automatically protected, and a recovery plan is in place. Not true.

Cloud providers only take responsibility for their stack. Under the shared responsibility model, as Microsoft notes regarding Azure, “you are responsible for protecting the security of your data and identities, on-premises resources, and the cloud components you control.” Since it’s your data, you need internal policies to protect that data—and recover it with minimal loss in the event of an incident.

It’s important to remember that storing containerized data isn’t a time-based process, with backups scheduled every few minutes or hours. Container backups are event-driven. For example, you modify a container but don’t get the expected results. You’ll likely want to revert that container to its previous state, which requires a proper backup of that earlier state. That makes data storage a front-burner issue for your developer teams.

Don’t assume containers are immune to disasters or cyber threats. In 2021 Siloscape made it clear that containers are at risk, as the first known threat targeting Kubernetes environments arrived on the scene. So, how can you ensure that your data is securely stored and backed up when using containers? All container applications and data should be part of your overall data resilience and data protection strategy. It simply boils down to the fact that you need to secure every container in your environment.

You also need to protect the location where your data is stored, including the systems, storage devices, and databases housing copies of your data. As you expand your containerization efforts, you must ensure that your overall disaster recovery strategy can adapt to accommodate new data generated by emerging technologies and next-generation appliances.

It’s Time to Choose Better Backup Technologies

Add it all up, and it’s clear that backing up your data is critical and will only become more so over time. As your organization creates more containers, you’ll also generate more data that needs to be backed up, stored, and protected.

While containerization brings many benefits to application development, it also adds new challenges for backup and recovery. That’s why it’s worth talking to an expert Arcserve technology partner to understand your options and determine the optimal solution for your situation. Request a demo to learn more about Arcserve data protection, backup, and recovery solutions.

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