Skip to content
Go to file


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time
Apr 15, 2019
Jan 24, 2019
Oct 27, 2017
Jan 24, 2019
Oct 26, 2020

Build Status

CSI provisioner

The external-provisioner is a sidecar container that dynamically provisions volumes by calling ControllerCreateVolume and ControllerDeleteVolume functions of CSI drivers. It is necessary because internal persistent volume controller running in Kubernetes controller-manager does not have any direct interfaces to CSI drivers.


The external-provisioner is an external controller that monitors PersistentVolumeClaim objects created by user and creates/deletes volumes for them. Full design can be found at Kubernetes proposal at


This information reflects the head of this branch.

Compatible with CSI Version Container Image Min K8s Version Recommended K8s Version
CSI Spec v1.0.0 1.17 1.19

Feature status

Various external-provisioner releases come with different alpha / beta features. Check --help output for alpha/beta features in each release.

Following table reflects the head of this branch.

Feature Status Default Description Provisioner Feature Gate Required
Snapshots Beta On Snapshots and Restore. No
CSIMigration Beta On Migrating in-tree volume plugins to CSI. No
CSIStorageCapacity Alpha Off Publish capacity information for the Kubernetes scheduler. No

All other external-provisioner features and the external-provisioner itself is considered GA and fully supported.


It is necessary to create a new service account and give it enough privileges to run the external-provisioner, see deploy/kubernetes/rbac.yaml. The provisioner is then deployed as single Deployment as illustrated below:

kubectl create deploy/kubernetes/deployment.yaml

The external-provisioner may run in the same pod with other external CSI controllers such as the external-attacher, external-snapshotter and/or external-resizer.

Note that the external-provisioner does not scale with more replicas. Only one external-provisioner is elected as leader and running. The others are waiting for the leader to die. They re-elect a new active leader in ~15 seconds after death of the old leader.

Command line options

Recommended optional arguments

  • --csi-address <path to CSI socket>: This is the path to the CSI driver socket inside the pod that the external-provisioner container will use to issue CSI operations (/run/csi/socket is used by default).

  • --leader-election: Enables leader election. This is mandatory when there are multiple replicas of the same external-provisioner running for one CSI driver. Only one of them may be active (=leader). A new leader will be re-elected when current leader dies or becomes unresponsive for ~15 seconds.

  • --leader-election-namespace: Namespace where leader election object will be created. It is recommended that this parameter is populated from Kubernetes DownwardAPI with the namespace where the external-provisioner runs in.

  • --timeout <duration>: Timeout of all calls to CSI driver. It should be set to value that accommodates majority of ControllerCreateVolume and ControllerDeleteVolume calls. See CSI error and timeout handling for details. 15 seconds is used by default.

  • --retry-interval-start <duration>: Initial retry interval of failed provisioning or deletion. It doubles with each failure, up to --retry-interval-max and then it stops increasing. Default value is 1 second. See CSI error and timeout handling for details.

  • --retry-interval-max <duration>: Maximum retry interval of failed provisioning or deletion. Default value is 5 minutes. See CSI error and timeout handling for details.

  • --worker-threads <num>: Number of simultaneously running ControllerCreateVolume and ControllerDeleteVolume operations. Default value is 100.

  • --kube-api-qps <num>: The number of requests per second sent by a Kubernetes client to the Kubernetes API server. Defaults to 5.0.

  • --kube-api-burst <num>: The number of requests to the Kubernetes API server, exceeding the QPS, that can be sent at any given time. Defaults to 10.

  • --cloning-protection-threads <num>: Number of simultaneously running threads, handling cloning finalizer removal. Defaults to 1.

  • --metrics-address: The TCP network address where the prometheus metrics endpoint will run (example: :8080 which corresponds to port 8080 on local host). The default is empty string, which means metrics endpoint is disabled.

  • --metrics-path: The HTTP path where prometheus metrics will be exposed. Default is /metrics.

  • --extra-create-metadata: Enables the injection of extra PVC and PV metadata as parameters when calling CreateVolume on the driver (keys: "", "", "")

Storage capacity arguments

See the storage capacity section below for details.

  • --capacity-controller-deployment-mode=central: Setting this enables producing CSIStorageCapacity objects with capacity information from the driver's GetCapacity call. 'central' is currently the only supported mode. Use it when there is just one active provisioner in the cluster. The default is to not produce CSIStorageCapacity objects.

  • --capacity-ownerref-level <levels>: The level indicates the number of objects that need to be traversed starting from the pod identified by the POD_NAME and POD_NAMESPACE environment variables to reach the owning object for CSIStorageCapacity objects: 0 for the pod itself, 1 for a StatefulSet, 2 for a Deployment, etc. Defaults to 1 (= StatefulSet).

  • --capacity-threads <num>: Number of simultaneously running threads, handling CSIStorageCapacity objects. Defaults to 1.

  • --capacity-poll-interval <interval>: How long the external-provisioner waits before checking for storage capacity changes. Defaults to 1m.

  • --capacity-for-immediate-binding <bool>: Enables producing capacity information for storage classes with immediate binding. Not needed for the Kubernetes scheduler, maybe useful for other consumers or for debugging. Defaults to false.

Other recognized arguments

  • --feature-gates <gates>: A set of comma separated <feature-name>=<true|false> pairs that describe feature gates for alpha/experimental features. See list of features or --help output for list of recognized features. Example: --feature-gates Topology=true to enable Topology feature that's disabled by default.

  • --strict-topology: This controls what topology information is passed to CreateVolumeRequest.AccessibilityRequirements in case of delayed binding. See the table below for an explanation how this option changes the result. This option has no effect if either Topology feature is disabled or Immediate volume binding mode is used.

  • --kubeconfig <path>: Path to Kubernetes client configuration that the external-provisioner uses to connect to Kubernetes API server. When omitted, default token provided by Kubernetes will be used. This option is useful only when the external-provisioner does not run as a Kubernetes pod, e.g. for debugging. Either this or --master needs to be set if the external-provisioner is being run out of cluster.

  • --master <url>: Master URL to build a client config from. When omitted, default token provided by Kubernetes will be used. This option is useful only when the external-provisioner does not run as a Kubernetes pod, e.g. for debugging. Either this or --kubeconfig needs to be set if the external-provisioner is being run out of cluster.

  • --volume-name-prefix <prefix>: Prefix of PersistentVolume names created by the external-provisioner. Default value is "pvc", i.e. created PersistentVolume objects will have name pvc-<uuid>.

  • --volume-name-uuid-length: Length of UUID to be added to --volume-name-prefix. Default behavior is to NOT truncate the UUID.

  • --version: Prints current external-provisioner version and quits.

  • All glog / klog arguments are supported, such as -v <log level> or -alsologtostderr.

Topology support

When Topology feature is enabled and the driver specifies VOLUME_ACCESSIBILITY_CONSTRAINTS in its plugin capabilities, external-provisioner prepares CreateVolumeRequest.AccessibilityRequirements while calling Controller.CreateVolume. The driver has to consider these topology constraints while creating the volume. Below table shows how these AccessibilityRequirements are prepared:

Delayed binding Strict topology Allowed topologies Resulting accessability requirements
Yes Yes Irrelevant Requisite = Preferred = Selected node topology
Yes No No Requisite = Aggregated cluster topology
Preferred = Requisite with selected node topology as first element
Yes No Yes Requisite = Allowed topologies
Preferred = Requisite with selected node topology as first element
No Irrelevant No Requisite = Aggregated cluster topology
Preferred = Requisite with randomly selected node topology as first element
No Irrelevant Yes Requisite = Allowed topologies
Preferred = Requisite with randomly selected node topology as first element

Capacity support

⚠️ Warning: This is an alpha feature and only supported by Kubernetes >= 1.19 if the CSIStorageCapacity feature gate is enabled.

The external-provisioner can be used to create CSIStorageCapacity objects that hold information about the storage capacity available through the driver. The Kubernetes scheduler then uses that information when selecting nodes for pods with unbound volumes that wait for the first consumer.

Currently, all CSIStorageCapacity objects created by an instance of the external-provisioner must have the same owner. That owner is how external-provisioner distinguishes between objects that it must manage and those that it must leave alone. The owner is determine with the POD_NAME/POD_NAMESPACE environment variables and the --capacity-ownerref-level parameter. Other solutions will be added in the future.

To enable this feature in a driver deployment (see also the deploy/kubernetes/storage-capacity.yaml example):

  • Set the POD_NAME and POD_NAMESPACE environment variables like this:
   - name: POD_NAMESPACE
        fieldPath: metadata.namespace
   - name: POD_NAME
  • Add --enable-capacity=central to the command line flags.
  • Add StorageCapacity: true to the CSIDriver information object. Without it, external-provisioner will publish information, but the Kubernetes scheduler will ignore it. This can be used to first deploy the driver without that flag, then when sufficient information has been published, enabled the scheduler usage of it.
  • If external-provisioner is not deployed with a StatefulSet, then configure with --capacity-ownerref-level which object is meant to own CSIStorageCapacity objects.
  • Optional: configure how often external-provisioner polls the driver to detect changed capacity with --capacity-poll-interval.
  • Optional: configure how many worker threads are used in parallel with --capacity-threads.
  • Optional: enable producing information also for storage classes that use immediate volume binding with --enable-capacity=immediate-binding. This is usually not needed because such volumes are created by the driver without involving the Kubernetes scheduler and thus the published information would just be ignored.

To determine how many different topology segments exist, external-provisioner uses the topology keys and labels that the CSI driver instance on each node reports to kubelet in the NodeGetInfoResponse.accessible_topology field. The keys are stored by kubelet in the CSINode objects and the actual values in Node annotations.

CSI drivers must report topology information that matches the storage pool(s) that it has access to, with granularity that matches the most restrictive pool.

For example, if the driver runs in a node with region/rack topology and has access to per-region storage as well as per-rack storage, then the driver should report topology with region/rack as its keys. If it only has access to per-region storage, then it should just use region as key. If it uses region/rack, then redundant CSIStorageCapacity objects will be published, but the information is still correct. See the KEP for details.

For each segment and each storage class, CSI GetCapacity is called once with the topology of the segment and the parameters of the class. If there is no error and the capacity is non-zero, a CSIStorageCapacity object is created or updated (if it already exists from a prior call) with that information. Obsolete objects are removed.

To ensure that CSIStorageCapacity objects get removed when the external-provisioner gets removed from the cluster, they all have an owner and therefore get garbage-collected when that owner disappears. The owner is not the external-provisioner pod itself but rather one of its parents as specified by --capacity-ownerref-level. This way, it is possible to switch between external-provisioner instances without losing the already gathered information.

CSIStorageCapacity objects are namespaced and get created in the namespace of the external-provisioner. Only CSIStorageCapacity objects with the right owner are modified by external-provisioner and their name is generated, so it is possible to deploy different drivers in the same namespace. However, Kubernetes does not check who is creating CSIStorageCapacity objects, so in theory a malfunctioning or malicious driver deployment could also publish incorrect information about some other driver.

CSI error and timeout handling

The external-provisioner invokes all gRPC calls to CSI driver with timeout provided by --timeout command line argument (15 seconds by default).

Correct timeout value and number of worker threads depends on the storage backend and how quickly it is able to process ControllerCreateVolume and ControllerDeleteVolume calls. The value should be set to accommodate majority of them. It is fine if some calls time out - such calls will be retried after exponential backoff (starting with 1s by default), however, this backoff will introduce delay when the call times out several times for a single volume.

Frequency of ControllerCreateVolume and ControllerDeleteVolume retries can be configured by --retry-interval-start and --retry-interval-max parameters. The external-provisioner starts retries with retry-interval-start interval (1s by default) and doubles it with each failure until it reaches retry-interval-max (5 minutes by default). The external provisioner stops increasing the retry interval when it reaches retry-interval-max, however, it still retries provisioning/deletion of a volume until it's provisioned. The external-provisioner keeps its own number of provisioning/deletion failures for each volume.

The external-provisioner can invoke up to --worker-threads (100 by default) ControllerCreateVolume and up to --worker-threads (100 by default) ControllerDeleteVolume calls in parallel, i.e. these two calls are counted separately. The external-provisioner assumes that the storage backend can cope with such high number of parallel requests and that the requests are handled in relatively short time (ideally sub-second). Lower value should be used for storage backends that expect slower processing related to newly created / deleted volumes or can handle lower amount of parallel calls.

Details of error handling of individual CSI calls:

  • ControllerCreateVolume: The call might have timed out just before the driver provisioned a volume and was sending a response. From that reason, timeouts from ControllerCreateVolume is considered as "volume may be provisioned" or "volume is being provisioned in the background." The external-provisioner will retry calling ControllerCreateVolume after exponential backoff until it gets either successful response or final (non-timeout) error that the volume cannot be created.
  • ControllerDeleteVolume: This is similar to ControllerCreateVolume, The external-provisioner will retry calling ControllerDeleteVolume with exponential backoff after timeout until it gets either successful response or a final error that the volume cannot be deleted.
  • Probe: The external-provisioner retries calling Probe until the driver reports it's ready. It retries also when it receives timeout from Probe call. The external-provisioner has no limit of retries. It is expected that ReadinessProbe on the driver container will catch case when the driver takes too long time to get ready.
  • GetPluginInfo, GetPluginCapabilitiesRequest, ControllerGetCapabilities: The external-provisioner expects that these calls are quick and does not retry them on any error, including timeout. Instead, it assumes that the driver is faulty and exits. Note that Kubernetes will likely start a new provisioner container and it will start with Probe call.

Community, discussion, contribution, and support

Learn how to engage with the Kubernetes community on the community page.

You can reach the maintainers of this project at:

Code of conduct

Participation in the Kubernetes community is governed by the Kubernetes Code of Conduct.


Sidecar container that watches Kubernetes PersistentVolumeClaim objects and triggers CreateVolume/DeleteVolume against a CSI endpoint





No packages published
You can’t perform that action at this time.