Kubernetes.io Blog: Update on Volume Snapshot Alpha for Kubernetes



Authors: Jing Xu (Google), Xing Yang (Huawei), Saad Ali (Google)

Volume snapshotting support was introduced in Kubernetes v1.12 as an alpha feature. In Kubernetes v1.13, it remains an alpha feature, but a few enhancements were added and some breaking changes were made. This post summarizes the changes.

Breaking Changes

CSI spec v1.0 introduced a few breaking changes to the volume snapshot feature. CSI driver maintainers should be aware of these changes as they upgrade their drivers to support v1.0.

SnapshotStatus replaced with Boolean ReadyToUse

CSI v0.3.0, defined a SnapshotStatus enum in CreateSnapshotResponse which indicates whether the snapshot is READY, UPLOADING, or ERROR_UPLOADING. In CSI v1.0, SnapshotStatus has been removed from CreateSnapshotResponse and replaced with a boolean ReadyToUse. A ReadyToUse value of true indicates that post snapshot processing (such as uploading) is complete and the snapshot is ready to be used as a source to create a volume.

Storage systems that need to do post snapshot processing (such as uploading after the snapshot is cut) should return a successful CreateSnapshotResponse with the ReadyToUse field set to false as soon as the snapshot has been taken. This indicates that the Container Orchestration System (CO) can resume any workload that was quiesced for the snapshot to be taken. The CO can then repeatedly call CreateSnapshot until the ReadyToUse field is set to true or the call returns an error indicating a problem in processing. The CSI ListSnapshot call could be used along with snapshot_id filtering to determine if the snapshot is ready to use, but is not recommended because it provides no way to detect errors during processing (the ReadyToUse field simply remains false indefinitely).

The v1.x.x releases of the CSI external-snapshotter sidecar container already handle this change by calling CreateSnapshot instead of ListSnapshots to check if a snapshot is ready to use. When upgrading their drivers to CSI 1.0, driver maintainers should use the appropriate 1.0 compatible sidecar container.

To be consistent with the change in the CSI spec, the Ready field in the VolumeSnapshot API object has been renamed to ReadyToUse. This change is visible to the user when running kubectl describe volumesnapshot to view the details of a snapshot.

Timestamp Data Type

The creation time of a snapshot is available to Kubernetes admins as part of the VolumeSnapshotContent API object. This field is populated using the creation_time field in the CSI CreateSnapshotResponse. In CSI v1.0, this creation_time field type was changed to .google.protobuf.Timestamp instead of int64. When upgrading drivers to CSI 1.0, driver maintainers must make changes accordingly. The v1.x.x releases of the CSI external-snapshotter sidecar container has been updated to handle this change.


The following VolumeSnapshotClass parameters are deprecated and will be removed in a future release. They will be replaced with parameters listed in the Replacement section below.


New Features

SnapshotContent Deletion/Retain Policy

As described in the initial blog post announcing the snapshot alpha, the Kubernetes snapshot APIs are similar to the PV/PVC APIs: just like a volume is represented by a bound PVC and PV pair, a snapshot is represented by a bound VolumeSnapshot and VolumeSnapshotContent pair.

With PV/PVC pairs, when a user is done with a volume, they can delete the PVC. And the reclaim policy on the PV determines what happens to the PV (whether it is also deleted or retained).

In the initial alpha release, snapshots did not support the ability to specify a reclaim policy. Instead when a snapshot object was deleted it always resulted in the snapshot being deleted. In Kubernetes v1.13, a snapshot content DeletionPolicy was added. It enables an admin to configure what what happens to a VolumeSnapshotContent after the VolumeSnapshot object it is bound to is deleted. The DeletionPolicy of a volume snapshot can either be Retain or Delete. If the value is not specified, the default depends on whether the SnapshotContent object was created via static binding or dynamic provisioning.


The Retain policy allows for manual reclamation of the resource. If a VolumeSnapshotContent is statically created and bound, the default DeletionPolicy is Retain. When the VolumeSnapshot is deleted, the VolumeSnapshotContent continues to exist and the VolumeSnapshotContent is considered “released”. But it is not available for binding to other VolumeSnapshot objects because it contains data. It is up to an administrator to decide how to handle the remaining API object and resource cleanup.


A Delete policy enables automatic deletion of the bound VolumeSnapshotContent object from Kubernetes and the associated storage asset in the external infrastructure (such as an AWS EBS snapshot or GCE PD snapshot, etc.). Snapshots that are dynamically provisioned inherit the deletion policy of their VolumeSnapshotClass, which defaults to Delete. The administrator should configure the VolumeSnapshotClass with the desired retention policy. The policy may be changed for individual VolumeSnapshotContent after it is created by patching the object.

The following example demonstrates how to check the deletion policy of a dynamically provisioned VolumeSnapshotContent.

$ kubectl create -f ./examples/kubernetes/demo-defaultsnapshotclass.yaml
$ kubectl create -f ./examples/kubernetes/demo-snapshot.yaml
$ kubectl get volumesnapshots demo-snapshot-podpvc -o yaml
apiVersion: [snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1](http://snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1)
kind: VolumeSnapshot
creationTimestamp: "2018-11-27T23:57:09Z"
snapshotClassName: default-snapshot-class
snapshotContentName: snapcontent-26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002
apiGroup: null
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
name: podpvc
$ kubectl get volumesnapshotcontent snapcontent-26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002 -o yaml
apiVersion: [snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1](http://snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1)
kind: VolumeSnapshotContent
creationTime: 1546469777852000000
driver: [pd.csi.storage.gke.io](http://pd.csi.storage.gke.io)
restoreSize: 6442450944
snapshotHandle: projects/jing-k8s-dev/global/snapshots/snapshot-26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002
deletionPolicy: Delete
apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolume
name: pvc-853622a4-f28b-11e8-8be6-42010a800002
resourceVersion: "21117"
uid: ae400e9f-f28b-11e8-8be6-42010a800002
snapshotClassName: default-snapshot-class
apiVersion: [snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1](http://snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1)
kind: VolumeSnapshot
name: demo-snapshot-podpvc
namespace: default
resourceVersion: "6948065"
uid: 26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002

User can change the deletion policy by using patch:

$ kubectl patch volumesnapshotcontent snapcontent-26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002 -p '{"spec":{"deletionPolicy":"Retain"}}' --type=merge
$ kubectl get volumesnapshotcontent snapcontent-26cd0db3-f2a0-11e8-8be6-42010a800002 -o yaml
apiVersion: [snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1](http://snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1alpha1)
kind: VolumeSnapshotContent
deletionPolicy: Retain
apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolume
name: pvc-853622a4-f28b-11e8-8be6-42010a800002

Snapshot Object in Use Protection

The purpose of the Snapshot Object in Use Protection feature is to ensure that in-use snapshot API objects are not removed from the system (as this may result in data loss). There are two cases that require “in-use” protection:

  1. If a volume snapshot is in active use by a persistent volume claim as a source to create a volume.
  2. If a VolumeSnapshotContent API object is bound to a VolumeSnapshot API object, the content object is considered in use.
    If a user deletes a VolumeSnapshot API object in active use by a PVC, the VolumeSnapshot object is not removed immediately. Instead, removal of the VolumeSnapshot object is postponed until the VolumeSnapshot is no longer actively used by any PVCs. Similarly, if an admin deletes a VolumeSnapshotContent that is bound to a VolumeSnapshot, the VolumeSnapshotContent is not removed immediately. Instead, the VolumeSnapshotContent removal is postponed until the VolumeSnapshotContent is not bound to the VolumeSnapshot object.

Which volume plugins support Kubernetes Snapshots?

Snapshots are only supported for CSI drivers (not for in-tree or Flexvolume). To use the Kubernetes snapshots feature, ensure that a CSI Driver that implements snapshots is deployed on your cluster.

As of the publishing of this blog post, the following CSI drivers support snapshots:

What’s next?

Depending on feedback and adoption, the Kubernetes team plans to push the CSI Snapshot implementation to beta in either 1.15 or 1.16. Some of the features we are interested in supporting include consistency groups, application consistent snapshots, workload quiescing, in-place restores, and more.

How can I learn more?

The code repository for snapshot APIs and controller is here: https://github.com/kubernetes-csi/external-snapshotter

Check out additional documentation on the snapshot feature here: http://k8s.io/docs/concepts/storage/volume-snapshots and https://kubernetes-csi.github.io/docs/

How do I get involved?

This project, like all of Kubernetes, is the result of hard work by many contributors from diverse backgrounds working together.

Special thanks to all the contributors that helped add CSI v1.0 support and improve the snapshot feature in this release, including Saad Ali (saadali), Michelle Au (msau42), Deep Debroy (ddebroy), James DeFelice (jdef), John Griffith (j-griffith), Julian Hjortshoj (julian-hj), Tim Hockin (thockin), Patrick Ohly (pohly), Luis Pabon (lpabon), Cheng Xing (verult), Jing Xu (jingxu97), Shiwei Xu (wackxu), Xing Yang (xing-yang), Jie Yu (jieyu), David Zhu (davidz627).

Those interested in getting involved with the design and development of CSI or any part of the Kubernetes Storage system, join the Kubernetes Storage Special Interest Group (SIG). We’re rapidly growing and always welcome new contributors.

We also hold regular SIG-Storage Snapshot Working Group meetings. New attendees are welcome to join for design and development discussions.