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Published: Apr 20, 2017 License: Apache-2.0 Imports: 13 Imported by: 0


Writing an Out-of-tree Dynamic Provisioner

In this guide we'll demonstrate how to write an out-of-tree dynamic provisioner using the helper library

The Provisioner Interface

Ideally, all you should need to do to write your own provisioner is implement the Provisioner interface which has two methods: Provision and Delete. Then you can just pass it to the ProvisionController, which handles all the logic of calling the two methods. The signatures should be self-explanatory but we'll explain the methods in more detail anyhow. For this explanation we'll refer to the ProvisionController as the controller and the implementer of the Provisioner interface as the provisioner. The code can be found in the controller directory

Provision(VolumeOptions) (*v1.PersistentVolume, error)

Provision creates a storage asset and returns a PersistentVolume object representing that storage asset. The given VolumeOptions object includes information needed to create the PV: the PV's reclaim policy, PV's name, the PVC object for which the PV is being provisioned (which has in its spec capacity & access modes), & parameters from the PVC's storage class.

You should store any information that will be later needed to delete the storage asset here in the PV using annotations. It's also recommended that you give every instance of your provisioner a unique identity and store it on the PV using an annotation here, for reasons we will see soon.

Provision is not responsible for actually creating the PV, i.e. submitting it to the Kubernetes API, it just returns it and the controller handles creating the API object.

Delete(*v1.PersistentVolume) error

Delete removes the storage asset that was created by Provision to back the given PV. The given PV will still have any useful annotations that were set earlier in Provision.

Special consideration must be given to the case where multiple controllers that serve the same storage class (that have the same provisioner name) are running: how do you know that this provisioner was the one to provision the given PV? This is why it's recommended to store a provisioner's identity on its PVs in Provision, so that each can remember if it was the one to provision a PV when it comes time to delete it, and if not, ignore it by returning IgnoredError. If you are confused by any of this, please continue through the hostPath example to see a practical implementation and if that isn't enough, please read this doc after the example.

Delete is not responsible for actually deleting the PV, i.e. removing it from the Kubernetes API, it just deletes the storage asset backing the PV and the controller handles deleting the API object.

Writing a hostPath Dynamic Provisioner

Now that we understand the interface expected by the controller, let's implement it and create our own out-of-tree hostPath dynamic provisioner. This is for single node testing and demonstration purposes only - local storage is not supported in any way and will not work on multi-node clusters. This simple program has the power to delete and create local data on your node, so if you intend to actually follow along and run it, be careful!

We define a hostPathProvisioner struct. It will back every hostPath PV it provisions with a new child directory in pvDir, hard-coded here to /tmp/hostpath-provisioner. It will also give itself a unique identity, set to the name of the node/host it runs on, which is passed in via an env variable.

type hostPathProvisioner struct {
	// The directory to create PV-backing directories in
	pvDir string

	// Identity of this hostPathProvisioner, set to node's name. Used to identify
	// "this" provisioner's PVs.
	identity string

func NewHostPathProvisioner() controller.Provisioner {
	nodeName := os.Getenv("NODE_NAME")
	if nodeName == "" {
		glog.Fatal("env variable NODE_NAME must be set so that this provisioner can identify itself")
	return &hostPathProvisioner{
		pvDir:    "/tmp/hostpath-provisioner",
		identity: nodeName,

We implement Provision. It creates a directory with the name options.PVName, which is always unique to the PVC being provisioned for, in pvDir. It sets a custom identity annotation on the PV and fills in the other fields of the PV according to the VolumeOptions to satisfy the PVC's requirements. And the PV's PersistentVolumeSource is of course set to a hostPath volume representing the directory just created.

// Provision creates a storage asset and returns a PV object representing it.
func (p *hostPathProvisioner) Provision(options controller.VolumeOptions) (*v1.PersistentVolume, error) {
	path := path.Join(p.pvDir, options.PVName)

	if err := os.MkdirAll(path, 0777); err != nil {
		return nil, err

	pv := &v1.PersistentVolume{
		ObjectMeta: metav1.ObjectMeta{
			Name: options.PVName,
			Annotations: map[string]string{
				"hostPathProvisionerIdentity": p.identity,
		Spec: v1.PersistentVolumeSpec{
			PersistentVolumeReclaimPolicy: options.PersistentVolumeReclaimPolicy,
			AccessModes:                   options.PVC.Spec.AccessModes,
			Capacity: v1.ResourceList{
				v1.ResourceName(v1.ResourceStorage): options.PVC.Spec.Resources.Requests[v1.ResourceName(v1.ResourceStorage)],
			PersistentVolumeSource: v1.PersistentVolumeSource{
				HostPath: &v1.HostPathVolumeSource{
					Path: path,

	return pv, nil

We implement Delete. First it checks if this provisioner was the one that created the directory backing the given PV by looking at the identity annotation. If not, it returns an IgnoredError: the safest assumption is that some other hostPath provisioner that is/was running on a different node was the one that created the directory on that different node, so it would be a dangerous idea for this provisioner to attempt to delete the directory here on this node! Otherwise, if the identity annotation matches this provisioner's, it can safely delete the directory.

// Delete removes the storage asset that was created by Provision represented
// by the given PV.
func (p *hostPathProvisioner) Delete(volume *v1.PersistentVolume) error {
	ann, ok := volume.Annotations["hostPathProvisionerIdentity"]
	if !ok {
		return errors.New("identity annotation not found on PV")
	if ann != p.identity {
		return &controller.IgnoredError{"identity annotation on PV does not match ours"}

	path := path.Join(p.pvDir, volume.Name)
	if err := os.RemoveAll(path); err != nil {
		return err

	return nil

Now all that's left is to connect our Provisioner with a ProvisionController and run the controller, all in main. This part will look largely the same regardless of how the provisioner interface is implemented. We'll write it such that it expects to be run as a pod in Kubernetes.

We need to create a couple of things the controller expects as arguments, including our hostPathProvisioner, before we create and run it. First we create a client for communicating with Kubernetes from within a pod. We use it to determine the server version of Kubernetes. Then we create our hostPathProvisioner. We pass all of these things into NewProvisionController, plus some other arguments we'll explain now.

  • resyncPeriod determines how often the controller relists PVCs and PVs to check if they should be provisioned for or deleted.
  • provisionerName is the provisioner that storage classes will specify, "" here. It must follow the <vendor name>/<provisioner name> naming scheme and <vendor name> cannot be ""
  • exponentialBackOffOnError determines whether it should exponentially back off from calls to Provision or Delete, useful if either of those involves some API call.
  • failedRetryThreshold is the threshold for failed Provision attempts before giving up trying to provision for a claim.
  • The last four arguments configure leader election wherein mutliple controllers trying to provision for the same class of claims race to lock/lead claims in order to be the one to provision for them. The meaning of these parameters is documented in the leaderelection package. If you don't intend for users to run more than one instance of your provisioner for the same class of claims, you may ignore these and simply use the default as we do here. See this doc for more info on running multiple provisioners.

(There are many other possible parameters of the controller that could be exposed, please create an issue if you would like one to be.)

Finally, we create and Run the controller.

const (
	resyncPeriod              = 15 * time.Second
	provisionerName           = ""
	exponentialBackOffOnError = false
	failedRetryThreshold      = 5
	leasePeriod               = leaderelection.DefaultLeaseDuration
	retryPeriod               = leaderelection.DefaultRetryPeriod
	renewDeadline             = leaderelection.DefaultRenewDeadline
	termLimit                 = leaderelection.DefaultTermLimit
func main() {
	// Create an InClusterConfig and use it to create a client for the controller
	// to use to communicate with Kubernetes
	config, err := rest.InClusterConfig()
	if err != nil {
		glog.Fatalf("Failed to create config: %v", err)
	clientset, err := kubernetes.NewForConfig(config)
	if err != nil {
		glog.Fatalf("Failed to create client: %v", err)

	// The controller needs to know what the server version is because out-of-tree
	// provisioners aren't officially supported until 1.5
	serverVersion, err := clientset.Discovery().ServerVersion()
	if err != nil {
		glog.Fatalf("Error getting server version: %v", err)

	// Create the provisioner: it implements the Provisioner interface expected by
	// the controller
	hostPathProvisioner := NewHostPathProvisioner()

	// Start the provision controller which will dynamically provision hostPath
	// PVs
	pc := controller.NewProvisionController(clientset, resyncPeriod, "", hostPathProvisioner, serverVersion.GitVersion, exponentialBackOffOnError, failedRetryThreshold, leasePeriod, renewDeadline, retryPeriod, termLimit)

We're now done writing code. The code we wrote can be found here. The other files we'll use in the remainder of the walkthrough can be found in the same directory.

Notice we just import "" to get access to the required interface and function.

Building and Running our hostPath Dynamic Provisioner

Before we can run our provisioner in a pod we need to build a Docker image for the pod to specify. Our hostpath-provisioner Go package has many dependencies so it's a good idea to use a tool to manage them. It's especially important to do so when depending on a package like client-go that has an unstable master branch. We'll use glide.

In order for the build method described below to work, you must

  • be working in your GOPATH, your code has to be somewhere under "$GOPATH/src". This is a requirement (even) when using vendored dependencies
  • have go version 1.7 or greater installed
  • have Docker installed

Our glide.yaml was created by manually setting the latest version of external-storage/lib & setting the version of client-go to the same one that external-storage/lib uses. We use it to populate a vendor directory containing dependencies. For more information on how to get this build working, see this doc.

Now we can use build & run our hostpath-provisioner using a simple Makefile where we first we run glide install -v to get the dependencies listed in our glide.yaml, then do a static go build of our program that can run in our "FROM scratch" Dockerfile.

image: hostpath-provisioner
	docker build -t $(IMAGE) -f Dockerfile.scratch .

hostpath-provisioner: $(shell find . -name "*.go")
	glide install -v --strip-vcs
	CGO_ENABLED=0 go build -a -ldflags '-extldflags "-static"' -o hostpath-provisioner .
FROM scratch
COPY hostpath-provisioner /
CMD ["/hostpath-provisioner"]

We run make. Note that the Docker image needs to be on the node we'll run the pod on. So you may need to tag your image and push it to Docker Hub so that it can be pulled later by the node, or just work on the node and build the image there.

$ make
Successfully built c3cd467b5fbe

Now we can specify our image in a pod. Recall that we set pvDir to /tmp/hostpath-provisioner. Since we are running our provisioner in a container as a pod, we should mount a corresponding hostPath volume there to serve as the parent of all provisioned PVs' hostPath volumes.

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: hostpath-provisioner
    - name: hostpath-provisioner
      image: hostpath-provisioner:latest
      imagePullPolicy: "IfNotPresent"
        - name: pv-volume
          mountPath: /tmp/hostpath-provisioner
    - name: pv-volume
        path: /tmp/hostpath-provisioner

If SELinux is enforcing, we need to label /tmp/hostpath-provisioner so that it can be accessed by pods. We do this on the single node those pods will be scheduled to.

$ mkdir -p /tmp/hostpath-provisioner
$ sudo chcon -Rt svirt_sandbox_file_t /tmp/hostpath-provisioner

Using our hostPath Dynamic Provisioner

As said before, this dynamic provisioner is for single node testing purposes only. It has been tested to work with hack/ started like so. If you want to run your provisioner on a cluster with RBAC enabled or an OpenShift cluster, please see this doc.


Once our cluster is running, we create the hostpath-provisioner pod. Note how we populate the "NODE_NAME" variable.

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: hostpath-provisioner
    - name: hostpath-provisioner
      image: hostpath-provisioner:latest
      imagePullPolicy: "IfNotPresent"
        - name: NODE_NAME
              fieldPath: spec.nodeName
        - name: pv-volume
          mountPath: /tmp/hostpath-provisioner
    - name: pv-volume
        path: /tmp/hostpath-provisioner
$ kubectl create -f pod.yaml
pod "hostpath-provisioner" created

Before proceeding, we check that it doesn't immediately crash due to one of the fatal conditions we wrote.

$ kubectl get pod
NAME                   READY     STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
hostpath-provisioner   1/1       Running   0          5s

Now we create a StorageClass & PersistentVolumeClaim and see that a PersistentVolume is automatically created.

kind: StorageClass
  name: example-hostpath
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
apiVersion: v1
  name: hostpath
  annotations: "example-hostpath"
    - ReadWriteMany
      storage: 1Mi
$ kubectl create -f class.yaml
storageclass "example-hostpath" created
$ kubectl create -f claim.yaml
persistentvolumeclaim "hostpath" created
$ kubectl get pv
NAME                                       CAPACITY   ACCESSMODES   RECLAIMPOLICY   STATUS    CLAIM              REASON    AGE
pvc-f41f0dfc-c7bf-11e6-8c5d-c81f66424618   1Mi        RWX           Delete          Bound     default/hostpath             8s

If we check the contents of /tmp/hostpath-provisioner on the node we should see the PV's backing directory.

$ ls /tmp/hostpath-provisioner/

Now let's do a simple test: have a pod use the claim and write to it. We create such a pod and see that it succeeds.

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: test-pod
  - name: test-pod
      - "/bin/sh"
      - "-c"
      - "touch /mnt/SUCCESS && exit 0 || exit 1"
      - name: hostpath-pvc
        mountPath: "/mnt"
  restartPolicy: "Never"
    - name: hostpath-pvc
        claimName: hostpath
$ kubectl create -f test-pod.yaml
pod "test-pod" created
$ kubectl get pod --show-all
NAME                   READY     STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
hostpath-provisioner   1/1       Running     0          2m
test-pod               0/1       Completed   0          8s

If we check the contents of the PV's backing directory we should see the data it wrote.

$ ls /tmp/hostpath-provisioner/pvc-f41f0dfc-c7bf-11e6-8c5d-c81f66424618

When we delete the PVC, the PV it was bound to and the data will be deleted also.

$ kubectl delete pvc --all
persistentvolumeclaim "hostpath" deleted
$ kubectl get pv
No resources found.
$ ls /tmp/hostpath-provisioner

Finally, we delete the provisioner pod when it has deleted all its PVs and it's no longer wanted.

$ kubectl delete pod hostpath-provisioner
pod "hostpath-provisioner" deleted


So as we can see, it can be easy to write a simple but useful dynamic provisioner. For something more complicated here are some various other things to consider...

We did not show how to parse StorageClass parameters. They are passed from the storage class as a map[string]string to Provision, so you can define and parse any arbitrary set of parameters you want. You must reject parameters that you don't recognize.

We made it so our hostpath-provisioner binary must run from within a Kubernetes cluster. But it's also possible to have it communicate with Kubernetes from outside. nfs-provisioner can do this and defines this (and other) behaviour using flags/arguments.

Note that the errors returned by Provision/Delete are sent as events on the PVC/PV and this is the primary way of communicating with the user, so they should be understandable.

If there is some behaviour of the controller you would like to change, feel free to open an issue. There are many parameters that could easily be made configurable but aren't because it would be too messy. The controller is written to follow the proposal and be like the upstream PV controller as much as possible, but there is always room for improvement.

It's possible (but not pretty) to write e2e tests for your provisioner that look similar to kubernetes e2e tests by copying files from the e2e framework and fixing import statements. Like here. Keep in mind the license, etc. In your case, unit & integration tests may be sufficient.


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