NFS backup driver for Cinder [1]

Currently, cinder-backup doesn’t support backup to an NFS-supplied data repository. This blueprint is for work to make this possible.

Problem description

  • Currently backup of cinder volumes is available to or Ceph object stores, or via Tivoli Storage Manager. These choices, while appropriate for some, don’t address all OpenStack operators or deployment scenarios.
  • Some OpenStack administrators who own NFS storage devices or scalable NFS storage clusters want to leverage these to provide backup for their cinder volumes, irrespective of whether NFS is used as a cinder volume backend.
  • Some backend providers need dynamic mount management from OpenStack as in the NFS volume drivers in order to better manage backup data security, to provide a more deterministic environment for support and service contracts, and to minimize dependencies external to OpenStack distributions and automation packages.
  • The NFS backup driver should not replicate functionality provided by the POSIX filesystem driver (currently in review, see [3] and [4]).

Use Cases

Proposed change

The following proposal presupposes a context in which the POSIX filesystem driver ([3] and [4]) has been merged upstream and that the POSIX filesystem driver, in turn, extends a “chunking” base class that abstracts common functionality previously only in the Swift backup driver (see [5] and [6]).

We propose to implement a NFSBackupDriver class under the POSIX filesystem BackupDriver class:

                |                      |
      +-------->|     BackupDriver     |<-----+
      |         |                      |      |
      |         +----------^-----------+      |
      |                    |                  |
      |                    |                  |
+-----+------+ +-----------+---------+ +------+-----+
|    TSM     | |        Chunking     | |    Ceph    |
| BkupDriver | |       BkupDriver    | | BkupDriver |
|            | |          Base       | |            |
+------------+ +---^--------------+--+ +------------+
                   |              |
                   |              |
             +-----+-----+  +-----+------+
             |   Swift   |  |   POSIX    |
             | BkupDriver|  | BkupDriver |
             | (default) |  |            |
             +-----------+  +-----^------+
                            |    NFS     |
                            | BkupDriver |
                            |            |

The NFS Backup Driver will override the parent POSIX file system driver’s __init__() method in order to do dynamic mount management using “brick” code shared with the volume driver for this purpose, as in [2]. With this extension, it will connect to an externally provisioned NFS share at initialization.

This generic NFS Backup Driver will otherwise just inherit methods to create, delete, and restore from backups from its parent.

Backend vendors who can add value by, e.g. data transfer techniques that avoid or reduce transfer operations between the cinder node and the backend storage array can themselves extend the generic NFS Backup Driver. To this end, we have agreed that the POSIX backup driver will explicitly implement a generic data transfer method which subclasses can override, or will inherit this generic method from the Chunking Base Class. Moreover, while this generic data transfer method can implement compression as an option, it is critical that it be only an option since backends may choose to implement compression or deduplication themselves.

A benefit of the approach presented here is that a user should be able to switch between posix, NFS, and vendor-specific extensions of the NFS backup driver, and backup operations will continue to work even though they use different data transfer mechanisms.


In the diagram, the common code shared by Swift and POSIX is implemented via inheritance and an “is-a” relationship. A “has-a” relationship to a library would also work for this proposal.

If other NAS drivers (GlusterFS, SMB, etc.) elect to also implement dynamic mount management, we can abstract out a RemoteFS Backup Driver as their common parent and interpolate it between the NFS backup driver (and other NAS drivers) and the POSIX filesystem driver. Or we may be able to just share most configuration options and promote the original NFS Backup Driver implementation to the RemoteFS driver role.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Security impact

NFS backups will run as a non-root user and the proposed driver will not elevate user privileges except when it mounts the backup repository. When it does the mount, it will invoke brick code to do so. Thus the only privilege elevation from this driver will be in a common library. That library has been audited and tweaked as part of recent NFS security enhancements [7], addressing the NFS side of launchpad bug 1260679 [8].

Because the backup driver runs as a regular user it works with secure NAS environments in which root squash is enabled.

The backup driver will chmod ‘660’ actual backup data and metadata and chmod ‘770’ directories in the path to same.

Notifications impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact

Backup service can in general have performance impact. Future enhancements to or extensions of this driver class could seek to reduce data transfer bandwidth during backup and restore or pursue differential backup strategies to reduce the amount of work involved in typical backups.

POSIX path backups can potentially produce directories containing a large number of backup files, such that directory operations could be very costly. We should implement some directory hierarchy to keep directories sized well. See [2] for one way to do this.

Other deployer impact


Developer impact



Backup data and metadata will be written to the repository at unique paths that are a function of the backup ID. That path will be stored in the backup record service_metatdata so that it can be used to navigate to the backup data and metadata for restore and delete operations.

Backup and restore operations will share a common method for transfer of data from volume to backup and vice versa. This method will be initially implemented as a naive block copy but will allow for enhancement or extension to e.g. reduce or eliminate data movement between the cinder node and the NFS server for the backup repository.


Primary assignee:
Tom Barron (tbarron)
Other contributors:
Kevin Fox (kfox1111) - POSIX filesystem driver and Chunking Base class

Work Items




  • Appropriate unit tests will be added.
  • Existing tests with backup_driver option in cinder.conf set for the NFS driver rather than for Swift will provide tempest coverage.

Documentation Impact

Update the backup section of the OpenStack Configuration Reference to indicate how to perform volume backups using an NFS server. Specifically, document:

  • New value for cinder.conf backup_driver option: cinder.backup.drivers.nfs

  • New cinder.conf option ‘backup_nfs_share’ with default value None and values in one of the following formats:

    - <fqdn>:<posix-path>
    - <ipv4addr>:<posix-path>
    - [<ipv6addr>]:<posix-path>
  • New cinder.conf option ‘backup_nfs_mount_options’ with default value None and values as specified in NFS man pages and as used in the NFS volume driver. Note: it may make sense to set the default to values tuned for backup performance rather than leaving the default None if we can agree on such values for NFS common. Otherwise, different NFS backends will likely want to extend this class and set optimal backend-specific default options.