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Storage configuration

Contributors juliantap

Each storage platform in the NetApp portfolio has unique capabilities that benefit applications, containerized or not.

Platform overview

Trident works with ONTAP and Element. There is not one platform which is better suited for all applications and scenarios than another, however, the needs of the application and the team administering the device should be taken into account when choosing a platform.

You should follow the baseline best practices for the host operating system with the protocol that you are leveraging. Optionally, you might want to consider incorporating application best practices, when available, with backend, storage class, and PVC settings to optimize storage for specific applications.

ONTAP and Cloud Volumes ONTAP best practices

Learn the best practices for configuring ONTAP and Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Trident.

The following recommendations are guidelines for configuring ONTAP for containerized workloads, which consume volumes that are dynamically provisioned by Trident. Each should be considered and evaluated for appropriateness in your environment.

Use SVM(s) dedicated to Trident

Storage Virtual Machines (SVMs) provide isolation and administrative separation between tenants on an ONTAP system. Dedicating an SVM to applications enables the delegation of privileges and enables applying best practices for limiting resource consumption.

There are several options available for the management of the SVM:

  • Provide the cluster management interface in the backend configuration, along with appropriate credentials, and specify the SVM name.

  • Create a dedicated management interface for the SVM by using ONTAP System Manager or the CLI.

  • Share the management role with an NFS data interface.

In each case, the interface should be in DNS, and the DNS name should be used when configuring Trident. This helps to facilitate some DR scenarios, for example, SVM-DR without the use of network identity retention.

There is no preference between having a dedicated or shared management LIF for the SVM, however, you should ensure that your network security policies align with the approach you choose. Regardless, the management LIF should be accessible via DNS to facilitate maximum flexibility should SVM-DR be used in conjunction with Trident.

Limit the maximum volume count

ONTAP storage systems have a maximum volume count, which varies based on the software version and hardware platform. See NetApp Hardware Universe for your specific platform and ONTAP version to determine the exact limits. When the volume count is exhausted, provisioning operations fail not only for Trident, but for all the storage requests.

Trident's ontap-nas and ontap-san drivers provision a FlexVolume for each Kubernetes Persistent Volume (PV) that is created. The ontap-nas-economy driver creates approximately one FlexVolume for every 200 PVs (configurable between 50 and 300). The ontap-san-economy driver creates approximately one FlexVolume for every 100 PVs (configurable between 50 and 200). To prevent Trident from consuming all the available volumes on the storage system, you should set a limit on the SVM. You can do this from the command line:

vserver modify -vserver <svm_name> -max-volumes <num_of_volumes>

The value for max-volumes varies based on several criteria specific to your environment:

  • The number of existing volumes in the ONTAP cluster

  • The number of volumes you expect to provision outside of Trident for other applications

  • The number of persistent volumes expected to be consumed by Kubernetes applications

The max-volumes value is the total volumes provisioned across all the nodes in the ONTAP cluster, and not on an individual ONTAP node. As a result, you might encounter some conditions where an ONTAP cluster node might have far more or less Trident provisioned volumes than another node.

For example, a two-node ONTAP cluster has the ability to host a maximum of 2000 FlexVolumes. Having the maximum volume count set to 1250 appears very reasonable. However, if only aggregates from one node are assigned to the SVM, or the aggregates assigned from one node are unable to be provisioned against (for example, due to capacity), then the other node becomes the target for all Trident provisioned volumes. This means that the volume limit might be reached for that node before the max-volumes value is reached, resulting in impacting both Trident and other volume operations that use that node. You can avoid this situation by ensuring that aggregates from each node in the cluster are assigned to the SVM used by Trident in equal numbers.

Limit the maximum size of volumes created by Trident

To configure the maximum size for volumes that can be created by Trident, use the limitVolumeSize parameter in your backend.json definition.

In addition to controlling the volume size at the storage array, you should also leverage Kubernetes capabilities.

Configure Trident to use bidirectional CHAP

You can specify the CHAP initiator and target usernames and passwords in your backend definition and have Trident enable CHAP on the SVM. Using the useCHAP parameter in your backend configuration, Trident authenticates iSCSI connections for ONTAP backends with CHAP. Bidirectional CHAP support is available with Trident 20.04 and above.

Create and use an SVM QoS policy

Leveraging an ONTAP QoS policy, applied to the SVM, limits the number of IOPS consumable by the Trident provisioned volumes. This helps to prevent a bully or out-of-control container from affecting workloads outside of the Trident SVM.

You can create a QoS policy for the SVM in a few steps. See the documentation for your version of ONTAP for the most accurate information. The example below creates a QoS policy that limits the total IOPS available to the SVM to 5000.

# create the policy group for the SVM
qos policy-group create -policy-group <policy_name> -vserver <svm_name> -max-throughput 5000iops

# assign the policy group to the SVM, note this will not work
# if volumes or files in the SVM have existing QoS policies
vserver modify -vserver <svm_name> -qos-policy-group <policy_name>

Additionally, if your version of ONTAP supports it, you can consider using a QoS minimum to guarantee an amount of throughput to containerized workloads. Adaptive QoS is not compatible with an SVM level policy.

The number of IOPS dedicated to the containerized workloads depends on many aspects. Among other things, these include:

  • Other workloads using the storage array. If there are other workloads, not related to the Kubernetes deployment, utilizing the storage resources, care should be taken to ensure that those workloads are not accidentally adversely impacted.

  • Expected workloads running in containers. If workloads which have high IOPS requirements will be running in containers, a low QoS policy results in a bad experience.

It's important to remember that a QoS policy assigned at the SVM level results in all the volumes provisioned to the SVM sharing the same IOPS pool. If one, or a small number, of the containerized applications have a high IOPS requirement, it could become a bully to the other containerized workloads. If this is the case, you might want to consider using external automation to assign per-volume QoS policies.

Important You should assign the QoS policy group to the SVM only if your ONTAP version is earlier than 9.8.

Create QoS policy groups for Trident

Quality of service (QoS) guarantees that performance of critical workloads is not degraded by competing workloads. ONTAP QoS policy groups provide QoS options for volumes, and enable users to define the throughput ceiling for one or more workloads. For more information about QoS, see Guaranteeing throughput with QoS.
You can specify QoS policy groups in the backend or in a storage pool, and they are applied to each volume created in that pool or backend.

ONTAP has two kinds of QoS policy groups: traditional and adaptive. Traditional policy groups provide a flat maximum (or minimum, in later versions) throughput in IOPS. Adaptive QoS automatically scales the throughput to workload size, maintaining the ratio of IOPS to TBs|GBs as the size of the workload changes. This provides a significant advantage when you are managing hundreds or thousands of workloads in a large deployment.

Consider the following when you create QoS policy groups:

  • You should set the qosPolicy key in the defaults block of the backend configuration. See the following backend configuration example:

version: 1
storageDriverName: ontap-nas
svm: svm0
username: user
password: pass
  qosPolicy: standard-pg
- labels:
    performance: extreme
    adaptiveQosPolicy: extremely-adaptive-pg
- labels:
    performance: premium
    qosPolicy: premium-pg
  • You should apply the policy groups per volume, so that each volume gets the entire throughput as specified by the policy group. Shared policy groups are not supported.

For more information about QoS policy groups, see ONTAP 9.8 QoS commands.

Limit storage resource access to Kubernetes cluster members

Limiting access to the NFS volumes and iSCSI LUNs created by Trident is a critical component of the security posture for your Kubernetes deployment. Doing so prevents hosts that are not a part of the Kubernetes cluster from accessing the volumes and potentially modifying data unexpectedly.

It's important to understand that namespaces are the logical boundary for resources in Kubernetes. The assumption is that resources in the same namespace are able to be shared, however, importantly, there is no cross-namespace capability. This means that even though PVs are global objects, when bound to a PVC they are only accessible by pods which are in the same namespace. It is critical to ensure that namespaces are used to provide separation when appropriate.

The primary concern for most organizations with regard to data security in a Kubernetes context is that a process in a container can access storage mounted to the host, but which is not intended for the container. Namespaces are designed to prevent this type of compromise. However, there is one exception: privileged containers.

A privileged container is one that is run with substantially more host-level permissions than normal. These are not denied by default, so ensure that you disable the capability by using pod security policies.

For volumes where access is desired from both Kubernetes and external hosts, the storage should be managed in a traditional manner, with the PV introduced by the administrator and not managed by Trident. This ensures that the storage volume is destroyed only when both the Kubernetes and external hosts have disconnected and are no longer using the volume. Additionally, a custom export policy can be applied, which enables access from the Kubernetes cluster nodes and targeted servers outside of the Kubernetes cluster.

For deployments which have dedicated infrastructure nodes (for example, OpenShift) or other nodes which are unable to schedule user applications, separate export policies should be used to further limit access to storage resources. This includes creating an export policy for services which are deployed to those infrastructure nodes (for example, the OpenShift Metrics and Logging services), and standard applications which are deployed to non-infrastructure nodes.

Use a dedicated export policy

You should ensure that an export policy exists for each backend that only allows access to the nodes present in the Kubernetes cluster. Trident can automatically create and manage export policies starting from the 20.04 release. This way, Trident limits access to the volumes it provisions to the nodes in the Kubernetes cluster and simplifies the addition/deletion of nodes.

Alternatively, you can also create an export policy manually and populate it with one or more export rules that process each node access request:

  • Use the vserver export-policy create ONTAP CLI command to create the export policy.

  • Add rules to the export policy by using the vserver export-policy rule create ONTAP CLI command.

Running these commands enables you to restrict which Kubernetes nodes have access to the data.

Disable showmount for the application SVM

The showmount feature enables an NFS client to query the SVM for a list of available NFS exports. A pod deployed to the Kubernetes cluster can issue the showmount -e command against the data LIF and receive a list of available mounts, including those which it does not have access to. While this, by itself, is not a security compromise, it does provide unnecessary information potentially aiding an unauthorized user with connecting to an NFS export.

You should disable showmount by using the SVM-level ONTAP CLI command:

vserver nfs modify -vserver <svm_name> -showmount disabled

SolidFire best practices

Learn the best practices for configuring SolidFire storage for Trident.

Create Solidfire Account

Each SolidFire account represents a unique volume owner and receives its own set of Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) credentials. You can access volumes assigned to an account either by using the account name and the relative CHAP credentials or through a volume access group. An account can have up to two-thousand volumes assigned to it, but a volume can belong to only one account.

Create a QoS policy

Use SolidFire Quality of Service (QoS) policies if you want to create and save a standardized quality of service setting that can be applied to many volumes.

You can set QoS parameters on a per-volume basis. Performance for each volume can be assured by setting three configurable parameters that define the QoS: Min IOPS, Max IOPS, and Burst IOPS.

Here are the possible minimum, maximum, and burst IOPS values for the 4Kb block size.

IOPS parameter Definition Min. value Default value Max. value(4Kb)


The guaranteed level of performance for a volume.





The performance will not exceed this limit.




Burst IOPS

Maximum IOPS allowed in a short burst scenario.




Note Although the Max IOPS and Burst IOPS can be set as high as 200,000, the real-world maximum performance of a volume is limited by cluster usage and per-node performance.

Block size and bandwidth have a direct influence on the number of IOPS. As block sizes increase, the system increases bandwidth to a level necessary to process the larger block sizes. As bandwidth increases, the number of IOPS the system is able to attain decreases. See SolidFire Quality of Service for more information about QoS and performance.

SolidFire authentication

Element supports two methods for authentication: CHAP and Volume Access Groups (VAG). CHAP uses the CHAP protocol to authenticate the host to the backend. Volume Access Groups controls access to the volumes it provisions. NetApp recommends using CHAP for authentication as it's simpler and has no scaling limits.

Note Trident with the enhanced CSI provisioner supports the use of CHAP authentication. VAGs should only be used in the traditional non-CSI mode of operation.

CHAP authentication (verification that the initiator is the intended volume user) is supported only with account-based access control. If you are using CHAP for authentication, two options are available: unidirectional CHAP and bidirectional CHAP. Unidirectional CHAP authenticates volume access by using the SolidFire account name and initiator secret. The bidirectional CHAP option provides the most secure way of authenticating the volume because the volume authenticates the host through the account name and the initiator secret, and then the host authenticates the volume through the account name and the target secret.

However, if CHAP cannot be enabled and VAGs are required, create the access group and add the host initiators and volumes to the access group. Each IQN that you add to an access group can access each volume in the group with or without CHAP authentication. If the iSCSI initiator is configured to use CHAP authentication, account-based access control is used. If the iSCSI initiator is not configured to use CHAP authentication, then Volume Access Group access control is used.

Where to find more information?

Some of the best practices documentation is listed below. Search the NetApp library for the most current versions.


Element software

NetApp HCI

Application best practices information

Not all applications have specific guidelines, it's important to work with your NetApp team and to use the NetApp library to find the most up-to-date documentation.