FlockerHub and Fli from ClusterHQ Deliver Git-like Functionality for Docker Data Volumes
November 03, 2016

ClusterHQ announced that on November 8, two new container data management products – FlockerHub and Fli – will be available through its open beta proprogram.

FlockerHub is like GitHub for data. With FlockerHub, teams can store and share any Docker data volume with access-controlled users or servers. FlockerHub, available initially as a ClusterHQ hosted service, is a version-control repository for Docker data volumes, similar to how GitHub is a version-control repository for software source code. FlockerHub allows DevOps teams to keep track of and distribute their data volumes to any host, all with access controls that fulfill data governance responsibilities.

Fli, a Git-like command line interface that runs on any Linux server or laptop, lets developers snapshot, clone, push and pull data volumes to FlockerHub. Fli — pronounced "fly", as in making your application data fly — is the command line interface (CLI) to FlockerHub. Fli allows DevOps teams to version-control Docker data volumes in the same way they use Git to version-control code. Fli can take incremental snapshots of any database or data volume that runs on Linux, and push those snapshots to FlockerHub where they can be pulled by any access-controlled user. Because these snapshots are incremental, each additional push or pull to FlockerHub sends only part of the data, which speeds up transfer times and reduces bandwidth consumption. Additionally, just like you can use Git to organize code into repos and branches, Fli provides the ability to organize data into volume sets and branches, making it simple to operate large-scale test fixture libraries.

With FlockerHub and Fli, DevOps teams can seamlessly move data between laptops, test environments, data centers and clouds, all with version and access controls. This flexibility to have data where you need it, when you need it, no matter the underlying infrastructure, has an immediate and positive impact on DevOps teams doing continuous integration, continuous delivery and automated testing.

In addition, FlockerHub and Fli in conjunction with Flocker have the potential to reinvent how disaster recovery, backup and cross-cloud workload migration are done in the enterprise.

"We recently surveyed more than 300 IT professionals and discovered that over 40 percent of app developers spend unconscionable amounts of time debugging errors found in production. This is time wasted that should be redirected to developing useful new innovations," said Mark Davis, CEO, ClusterHQ. "Not only will FlockerHub and Fli reduce the number of bugs that make it into production by enabling better testing, but they also have the potential to dramatically improve how databases are managed across the entire application lifecycle, just as GitHub and Git have made an indelible impact on how software development teams deal with code."

FlockerHub and Fli dramatically improve processes for managing and distributing data across containerized environments. Some specific use cases include:

- Realistic test data for CI environments: The best tests include realistic test data. But getting data into continuous integration environments can be cumbersome since it usually involves asking operations teams for access. Not only does this manual request take time, slowing down testing, but it is also expensive because multiple copies of the data are needed for parallel testing. With Fli, Ops teams can automatically snapshot any data volume and send it to FlockerHub, where it can be shared with only access-controlled users or servers. Additionally, Fli can clone the data multiple times without increasing storage consumption, so multiple tests can run in parallel without additional cost. When combined with popular CI software like Jenkins, the data management capabilities provided by FlockerHub and Fli can accelerate incremental and parallel builds, speeding up testing dramatically.

- On-demand staging for each commit: As developers work on feature branches, they often preview their code in a staging environment. Docker Compose is an easy way to quickly spin up test environments for each commit, but without realistic test data, bugs can be easily missed, increasing the likelihood of errors in production. Through an integration with Docker Compose, FlockerHub volumes can be referenced directly in the Docker Compose YAML file, allowing the Dockerized application to be spun up along with its data, providing a truly representative staging environment.

- Commit and share error state for simplified debugging: The recent Application Testing survey conducted by ClusterHQ uncovered that 11 percent of application developers report encountering bugs discovered in production every single day, while 25 percent encounter new bugs multiple times per week. Typically when a bug is reported, a developer wastes several hours trying to reproduce the problem before it can be fixed. With Fli, database state can be regularly snapshotted and pushed to FlockerHub, so that any time an application needs to be debugged, the accompanying data can be included in the debugging environment. Any developer who needs to work on an issue can pull the error state, along with the correct code version and Dockerized application environment, and have everything needed to isolate the bug.

"Data lives at the heart of every application. With the additions of FlockerHub and Fli to the ClusterHQ platform, we provide a holistic solution for managing this precious resource at every stage of application development," said Mohit Bhatnagar, VP of products, ClusterHQ. "Today, FlockerHub and Fli dramatically improve DevOps teams' ability to test their code before moving into production. Tomorrow, these capabilities will change the way enterprises do disaster recovery, backup and multi-cloud operations."

FlockerHub launches in beta on November 8.

Fli will be available as an Apache 2.0 download on November 8.

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