Rook helped support HBO’s Game of Thrones season 7 premiere. Now, the open source software-defined storage project is the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s 15th hosted project and first in the storage category.

Kubernetes container deployments typically use external storage systems. Rook, on the other hand, brings file, block, and object storage systems into the Kubernetes cluster. This allows the systems to run alongside other applications that use their data, and it makes the cloud-native cluster portable across public and private clouds.

Bassam Tabbara, CEO of the cloud-native computing startup Upbound and one of the Rook developers, says the open source software means that storage-intensive workloads no longer have to run outside of the cloud-native space. It also automates tasks like configuration, scaling, migration, disaster recovery, and resource management — things that usually require a storage administrator to manually do.

“Rook takes existing storage systems like Ceph and brings them to the cloud-native environment,” Tabbara explained. “It works as the orchestrator for the storage system and does a really good job integrating with Kubernetes.”

The CNCF Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) today voted to accept Rook as an inception-level project.

“Inception is like a seed investment in a startup,” said Chris Aniszczyk, chief operating officer of CNCF. “We expect some inception projects to fail over time. It’s that the CNCF board is willing to take a risk on what it thinks is a technically-sound project.”

And Rook, because of the way that it plugs into Kubernetes, is one of these projects, he said. “The CNCF board thinks it is a great way to integrate storage systems on top of Kubernetes.”

Although it’s the first, it probably won’t be CNCF’s only storage project for long. Aniszczyk listed Dell EMC’s REX-Ray and the Container Storage Interface (CSI) specification as two potential future CNCF storage projects.

“We have containered and rkt, which are two container engines,” Aniszczyk said. “Envoy and Linkerd compete in the service mesh space. I think you’ll see a couple more storage projects within CNCF.”

CNCF most recently voted in two new security projects: Notary and The Update Framework (TUF).

Rook Availability

An alpha version of Rook is available now. Beta and production-ready versions will launch in the first half of this year.

Companies and organizations have already deployed Rook in their cloud-native environments, both on premises and in public clouds. These include HBO, University of California-San Diego’s Nautilus Project, Norwegian Welfare, Verne Global, and FlexShopper.

“We used Rook underneath our Prometheus servers at HBO, running on Kubernetes and deployed on AWS,” said Illya Chekrygin, former senior staff engineer at HBO and founding 
member of Upbound, on GitHub. “Rook made a significant improvement on the Prometheus pod restart time, virtually eliminating downtime and metrics scrape gaps. We are looking forward to Rook being in a production ready state.”

Although the storage project is less than two years old, HBO’s and other organizations’ success stories — and using a battle-tested storage system like Ceph — give Rook street cred, Tabbara said.

“Storage systems take a long time to mature, and people are more careful about using storage systems that are not mature,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see companies like this make a bet on Rook. And it’s validation.”

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