Ganeti shared storage support

This document describes the changes in Ganeti 2.3+ compared to Ganeti 2.3 storage model. It also documents the ExtStorage Interface.


The aim is to introduce support for externally mirrored, shared storage. This includes two distinct disk templates:

  • A shared filesystem containing instance disks as regular files typically residing on a networked or cluster filesystem (e.g. NFS, AFS, Ceph, OCFS2, etc.).
  • Instance images being shared block devices, typically LUNs residing on a SAN appliance.


DRBD is currently the only shared storage backend supported by Ganeti. DRBD offers the advantages of high availability while running on commodity hardware at the cost of high network I/O for block-level synchronization between hosts. DRBD’s master-slave model has greatly influenced Ganeti’s design, primarily by introducing the concept of primary and secondary nodes and thus defining an instance’s “mobility domain”.

Although DRBD has many advantages, many sites choose to use networked storage appliances for Virtual Machine hosting, such as SAN and/or NAS, which provide shared storage without the administrative overhead of DRBD nor the limitation of a 1:1 master-slave setup. Furthermore, new distributed filesystems such as Ceph are becoming viable alternatives to expensive storage appliances. Support for both modes of operation, i.e. shared block storage and shared file storage backend would make Ganeti a robust choice for high-availability virtualization clusters.

Throughout this document, the term “externally mirrored storage” will refer to both modes of shared storage, suggesting that Ganeti does not need to take care about the mirroring process from one host to another.

Use cases

We consider the following use cases:

  • A virtualization cluster with FibreChannel shared storage, mapping at least one LUN per instance, accessible by the whole cluster.
  • A virtualization cluster with instance images stored as files on an NFS server.
  • A virtualization cluster storing instance images on a Ceph volume.

Design Overview

The design addresses the following procedures:

  • Refactoring of all code referring to constants.DTS_NET_MIRROR.
  • Obsolescence of the primary-secondary concept for externally mirrored storage.
  • Introduction of a shared file storage disk template for use with networked filesystems.
  • Introduction of a shared block device disk template with device adoption.
  • Introduction of the External Storage Interface.

Additionally, mid- to long-term goals include:

  • Support for external “storage pools”.

Refactoring of all code referring to constants.DTS_NET_MIRROR

Currently, all storage-related decision-making depends on a number of frozensets in lib/, typically constants.DTS_NET_MIRROR. However, constants.DTS_NET_MIRROR is used to signify two different attributes:

  • A storage device that is shared
  • A storage device whose mirroring is supervised by Ganeti

We propose the introduction of two new frozensets to ease decision-making:

  • constants.DTS_EXT_MIRROR, holding externally mirrored disk templates
  • constants.DTS_MIRRORED, being a union of constants.DTS_EXT_MIRROR and DTS_NET_MIRROR.

Additionally, DTS_NET_MIRROR will be renamed to DTS_INT_MIRROR to reflect the status of the storage as internally mirrored by Ganeti.

Thus, checks could be grouped into the following categories:

  • Mobility checks, like whether an instance failover or migration is possible should check against constants.DTS_MIRRORED
  • Syncing actions should be performed only for templates in constants.DTS_NET_MIRROR

Obsolescence of the primary-secondary node model

The primary-secondary node concept has primarily evolved through the use of DRBD. In a globally shared storage framework without need for external sync (e.g. SAN, NAS, etc.), such a notion does not apply for the following reasons:

  1. Access to the storage does not necessarily imply different roles for the nodes (e.g. primary vs secondary).
  2. The same storage is available to potentially more than 2 nodes. Thus, an instance backed by a SAN LUN for example may actually migrate to any of the other nodes and not just a pre-designated failover node.

The proposed solution is using the iallocator framework for run-time decision making during migration and failover, for nodes with disk templates in constants.DTS_EXT_MIRROR. Modifications to gnt-instance and gnt-node will be required to accept target node and/or iallocator specification for these operations. Modifications of the iallocator protocol will be required to address at least the following needs:

  • Allocation tools must be able to distinguish between internal and external storage
  • Migration/failover decisions must take into account shared storage availability

Introduction of a shared file disk template

Basic shared file storage support can be implemented by creating a new disk template based on the existing FileStorage class, with only minor modifications in lib/ The shared file disk template relies on a shared filesystem (e.g. NFS, AFS, Ceph, OCFS2 over SAN or DRBD) being mounted on all nodes under the same path, where instance images will be saved.

A new cluster initialization option is added to specify the mountpoint of the shared filesystem.

The remainder of this document deals with shared block storage.

Introduction of a shared block device template

Basic shared block device support will be implemented with an additional disk template. This disk template will not feature any kind of storage control (provisioning, removal, resizing, etc.), but will instead rely on the adoption of already-existing block devices (e.g. SAN LUNs, NBD devices, remote iSCSI targets, etc.).

The shared block device template will make the following assumptions:

  • The adopted block device has a consistent name across all nodes, enforced e.g. via udev rules.
  • The device will be available with the same path under all nodes in the node group.

Introduction of the External Storage Interface


To extend the shared block storage template and give Ganeti the ability to control and manipulate external storage (provisioning, removal, growing, etc.) we need a more generic approach. The generic method for supporting external shared storage in Ganeti will be to have an ExtStorage provider for each external shared storage hardware type. The ExtStorage provider will be a set of files (executable scripts and text files), contained inside a directory which will be named after the provider. This directory must be present across all nodes of a nodegroup (Ganeti doesn’t replicate it), in order for the provider to be usable by Ganeti for this nodegroup (valid). The external shared storage hardware should also be accessible by all nodes of this nodegroup too.

An “ExtStorage provider” will have to provide the following methods:

  • Create a disk
  • Remove a disk
  • Grow a disk
  • Attach a disk to a given node
  • Detach a disk from a given node
  • SetInfo to a disk (add metadata)
  • Verify its supported parameters
  • Snapshot a disk (optional)
  • Open a disk (optional)
  • Close a disk (optional)

The proposed ExtStorage interface borrows heavily from the OS interface and follows a one-script-per-function approach. An ExtStorage provider is expected to provide the following scripts:

  • create
  • remove
  • grow
  • attach
  • detach
  • setinfo
  • verify
  • snapshot (optional)
  • open (optional)
  • close (optional)

All scripts will be called with no arguments and get their input via environment variables. A common set of variables will be exported for all commands, and some commands might have extra variables.

The name of the volume. This is unique for Ganeti and it uses it to refer to a specific volume inside the external storage.
The volume’s size in mebibytes. Available only to the create and grow scripts.
Available only to the grow script. It declares the new size of the volume after grow (in mebibytes).
ExtStorage parameter, where name is the parameter in upper-case (same as OS interface’s OSP_* parameters).
A string containing metadata to be set for the volume. This is exported only to the setinfo script.
The human readable name of the disk (if any).
The name of the volume’s snapshot. Available only to the snapshot script.
The size of the volume’s snapshot. Available only to the snapshot script.
Whether the volume will be accessed exclusively or not. Available only to the open script.

All scripts except attach should return 0 on success and non-zero on error, accompanied by an appropriate error message on stderr. The attach script should return a string on stdout on success, which is the block device’s full path, after it has been successfully attached to the host node. On error it should return non-zero.

The snapshot, open and close scripts are introduced after the first implementation of the ExtStorage Interface. To keep backwards compatibility with the first implementation, we make these scripts optional.

The snapshot script, if present, will be used for instance backup export. The open script makes the device ready for I/O. The close script disables the I/O on the device.


To support the ExtStorage interface, we will introduce a new disk template called ext. This template will implement the existing Ganeti disk interface in lib/ (create, remove, attach, assemble, shutdown, grow, setinfo, open, close), and will simultaneously pass control to the external scripts to actually handle the above actions. The ext disk template will act as a translation layer between the current Ganeti disk interface and the ExtStorage providers.

We will also introduce a new IDISK_PARAM called IDISK_PROVIDER = provider, which will be used at the command line to select the desired ExtStorage provider. This parameter will be valid only for template ext e.g.:

$ gnt-instance add -t ext --disk=0:size=2G,provider=sample_provider1

The Extstorage interface will support different disks to be created by different providers. e.g.:

$ gnt-instance add -t ext --disk=0:size=2G,provider=sample_provider1 \
                          --disk=1:size=1G,provider=sample_provider2 \

Finally, the ExtStorage interface will support passing of parameters to the ExtStorage provider. This will also be done per disk, from the command line:

$ gnt-instance add -t ext --disk=0:size=1G,provider=sample_provider1,\

The above parameters will be exported to the ExtStorage provider’s scripts as the enviromental variables:

  • EXTP_PARAM1 = str(value1)
  • EXTP_PARAM2 = str(value2)

We will also introduce a new Ganeti client called gnt-storage which will be used to diagnose ExtStorage providers and show information about them, similarly to the way gnt-os diagose and gnt-os info handle OS definitions.

ExtStorage Interface support for userspace access


The ExtStorage Interface gets extended to cater for ExtStorage providers that support userspace access. This will allow the instances to access their external storage devices directly without going through a block device, avoiding expensive context switches with kernel space and the potential for deadlocks in low memory scenarios. The implementation should be backwards compatible and allow existing ExtStorage providers to work as is.


Since the implementation should be backwards compatible we are not going to add a new script in the set of scripts an ExtStorage provider should ship with. Instead, the ‘attach’ script, which is currently responsible to map the block device and return a valid device path, should also be responsible for providing the URIs that will be used by each hypervisor. Even though Ganeti currently allows userspace access only for the KVM hypervisor, we want the implementation to enable the extstorage providers to support more than one hypervisors for future compliance.

More specifically, the ‘attach’ script will be allowed to return more than one line. The first line will contain as always the block device path. Each one of the extra lines will contain a URI to be used for the userspace access by a specific hypervisor. Each URI should be prefixed with the hypervisor it corresponds to (e.g. kvm:<uri>). The prefix will be case insensitive. If the ‘attach’ script doesn’t return any extra lines, we assume that the ExtStorage provider doesn’t support userspace access (this way we maintain backward compatibility with the existing ‘attach’ scripts). In case the provider supports only userspace access and thus a local block device is not available, then the first line should be an empty line.

The ‘GetUserspaceAccessUri’ method of the ‘ExtStorageDevice’ class will parse the output of the ‘attach’ script and if the provider supports userspace access for the requested hypervisor, it will use the corresponding URI instead of the block device itself.

Long-term shared storage goals

Storage pool handling

A new cluster configuration attribute will be introduced, named “storage_pools”, modeled as a dictionary mapping storage pools to external storage providers (see below), e.g.:

 "nas1": "foostore",
 "nas2": "foostore",
 "cloud1": "barcloud",

Ganeti will not interpret the contents of this dictionary, although it will provide methods for manipulating them under some basic constraints (pool identifier uniqueness, driver existence). The manipulation of storage pools will be performed by implementing new options to the gnt-cluster command:

$ gnt-cluster modify --add-pool nas1 foostore
$ gnt-cluster modify --remove-pool nas1 # There must be no instances using
                                        # the pool to remove it

Furthermore, the storage pools will be used to indicate the availability of storage pools to different node groups, thus specifying the instances’ “mobility domain”.

The pool, in which to put the new instance’s disk, will be defined at the command line during instance add. This will become possible by replacing the IDISK_PROVIDER parameter with a new one, called IDISK_POOL = pool. The cmdlib logic will then look at the cluster-level mapping dictionary to determine the ExtStorage provider for the given pool.


The gnt-storage client can be extended to support pool management (creation/modification/deletion of pools, connection/disconnection of pools to nodegroups, etc.). It can also be extended to diagnose and provide information for internal disk templates too, such as lvm and drbd.