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Saving Data in Docker Containers

Anthony Nocentino has a three-part series on persisting SQL Server data in Docker containers. Part 1 takes us through volumes:

Let’s talk about how we can use Docker Volumes and SQL Server to persist data. If we want to run SQL Server in a container we will want to decouple our data from the container itself. Doing so will enable us to delete the container, replace it and start up a new one pointing at our existing data. When running SQL Server in a container will store data in /var/opt/mssql by default. When the container starts up for the first time it will put the system databases in that location and any user databases created will also be placed at this location by default. 

Part 2 looks at how volumes differ between the Linux and Mac/Windows versions of Docker:

So in my previous post, we discussed Docker Volumes and how they have a lifecycle independent of the container enabling us to service the container image independent of the data inside the container. Now let’s dig into Volumes a little bit more and learn where Docker actually stores that data on the underlying operating system.  

Part 3 ties it in with SQL Server:

Makes sense…we changed where SQL Server is reading/writing data. macOS doesn’t support a file mode called O_DIRECT which allows for unbuffered read/write access to the file opened using the open system call.  O_DIRECT is used by systems that manage their own file caching, like relational database management systems (RDBMS). So as SQL starts up and tries to open the master database with O_DIRECT the files can’t be opened because the macOS kernel doesn’t support this mode. And this is the reason why we have to have that Linux VM around. That Linux VM will support O_DIRECT option on the file opened. See more about this at the GitHub issue here.

Definitely worth getting a handle on this if you’re interested in containers.