Using Dynamic Provisioning and StorageClasses

This post was written by Christian Hernandez, Solution Architect of the OpenShift Tiger Team.

OpenShift can integrate with underlying infrastructure, enabling OpenShift to dynamically interact with the infrastructure and extend its functionality.

Specifically, this can allow us to set up OpenShift to process a PersistentVolumeClaim and then allocate that storage dynamically.

I am going to cover what is needed to get started with dynamically provisioning storage:

Cloud Providers

Using a configured cloud provider such as AWS, you can setup/install OpenShift with the ability to access AWS services. This can be done at install or after the fact.

In short, OpenShift uses the defined IAM account to interact with AWS and make requests for resources. In the example that follows, OpenShift will be using this account to request a new EBS volume.

I setup the cloud provider on install. If done correctly, you’ll see this on your masters/nodes

[root@master ~]# cat /etc/origin/cloudprovider/aws.conf 
Zone = us-west-1b


In OpenShift, you are able to define a StorageClass. This lets administrators define different classes of storage that map to backend EBS volumes. Also, this mechanism helps in managing tiered storage.

In the above image, the user requests “slow storage” (which is a storage category set up by an OpenShift admin), then OpenShift uses the IAM account to request EBS storage to be created. Finally AWS creates the storage and OpenShift binds the claim to the backend volume.

Default StorageClass

Administrators can also set up a “default” StorageClass. This is useful when a user doesn’t request a particular kind of storage or when using a template that needs a persistent storage volume.

The workflow here is the same as before – except here OpenShift says “since no StorageClass was defined; I’m just going to use the default class”. The rest of the workflow is the same.

NOTE: Keep in mind that by default, requesting storage is unrestricted, so you may want to set up quotas for your projects.


I have an OpenShift cluster setup with the AWS cloud-provider plugin.

This shows what region I’m in and that the setup was successful; now you can see I have no storage classes defined.

This means that anytime a user requests storage; I will have to manually create a persistentVolume. I can create a storageClass that will automatically create the requested storage (if the request comes in with the same name)

Here I am creating a storage system called “aws-ebs-slow”:

Now, the user can request storage by name “aws-slow”:

Now when I check my PersistentVolumeClaim I should see a “Bound” status. This means I can go ahead and use it and attach it to my application:

Adding the volume to my application will trigger a new deployment (thus giving me a new pod with the mounted filesystem). Here you can see that uploader-2-5tmkh is the name of my new pod and that a new EBS volume was attached as /dev/xvdbe:

So what about those times when someone uses a template, ‘just wants storage’, or just doesn’t specify the class of storage? Easy! We just set up a default storageClass by annotating it: "true"

Now we can fire off an application that requires storage (e.g. rocketchat’s MongoDB instance) and OpenShift will take the storage claim and provision an EBS volume based on the defined parameters of the default StorageClass. Cool!

As you can see storage was dynamically requested and provisioned without the need of a pv or a pvc.

NOTE: For those who are wondering; RocketChat templates can be found here.


In this blog, we explored how to dynamically allocate storage and how you can provide tiered storage. Also, we went through how to set up default tiers and went through an example on how to automatically attach storage.

MongoDB, OpenShift Container Platform, OpenShift Ecosystem, OpenShift Origin
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  • Eduard

    I haven’t tested the exact commands, but in the first example you defined a storage class called “aws-ebs-slow” and used it with “storage-class: aws-slow”. Would this still work? Why? How does it know that aws-slow is part of aws-ebs-slow?


    • Christian Hernandez


      This was a typo on my end. The request needs to match the actual name of the storageClass