Generic image cache functionality

Currently some volume drivers implement the clone_image method and use an internal cache of volumes on the backend that hold recently used images. For storage backends that can do very efficient volume clones it is a potentially large performance improvement over having to attach and copy the image contents to a each volume. To make this functionality easier for other volume drivers to use, and prevent any duplication in the code base, we should implement a more unified way to do this caching.

Problem description

If we don’t create a unified approach to this image caching we will end up with multiple vendors implementing it in volume drivers. This means duplicated code, redundant vendor prefixed config options, and a non-uniform way for admins to set up and configure image caching.

Use Cases

The primary (and I think only) use case for this is when creating a volume from an image more than once. As an end user I will see (potentially) faster volume creation from an image after the first time, and as an admin once I set this up once in the backend configuration it should require no more interaction.

Proposed change

When creating a volume from an image using the cache there are a few high level steps to take:

  • Check if an image has a corresponding entry in the cache.

  • If it is in the cache but has been updated, delete it.

  • If it wasn’t in the cache (or isn’t anymore)
    • Evict an old image entry if room is needed.
    • Create a volume from an image (the ‘normal’ way of copying data over), this volume will henceforth be known as the ‘image-volume’. This volume would be owned by a special tenant that is controlled by Cinder.
    • Update the cache to know about this new image-volume and its image


  • Clone the image-volume.

This new behavior would be enabled via a new volume driver config option called ‘image_volume_cache_enabled’. The size of this cache will then be defined by a few new config options:

  • image_volume_cache_max_size_gb
  • image_volume_cache_max_size_percent
  • image_volume_cache_max_count

These options are scoped to each backend.

In the _create_from_image of CreateVolumeFromSpecTask we can add in the logic to check first if the image cache is enabled for the target backend. If it is then we can use the cache, if not we use the slow path only. This would be done after driver.clone_image is called to give a backend a chance to do an even more optimal clone if possible.

For the actual image-volume I think it would be best if we can re-use the normal Cinder Volume model and database table. Ideally we can leverage the cinder-internal tenant feature so that the special tenant will own these cached images.

We then would need a new table to track our image cache. This table will have Volume, Image, and Host id’s, as well as image meta-data to make a decision as to whether or not it is still ‘valid’. More details in the Data Model Impact section.

This information gives us enough to look up whether or not a image is in the cache for a target backend, and make the decision to either create a new one or not and then call _create_from_source_volume with the image-volume.

As far as the volume driver is concerned it would be creating volumes from an image and cloning volumes, it would not need to be aware of the cache at all for the creation methods.

For any backends which need to use snapshots they will have to transition from image-volume -> snapshot -> volume. In the future this image cache table could always be expanded to have a snapshot_id in addition to the volume_id, but for the first iteration of this it will only deal with volumes as the cache backing.

There is a possibility of a race within the cache where an image-volume would be getting evicted and is selected to be used for a clone operation. If this happens we should catch the error and attempt to create the volume by downloading the image. It is also possible that multiple of the same images are cached at the same time, this is considered ‘OK’, eventually extra ones will be evicted if space is needed.

In future iterations of this we could expose the objects in the cache as public snapshots, and store the backing volume for other public snapshots in the same way we do the cached objects. This should allow for quite a bit of re-use in the code, and give users another way to get quick copies of volumes for backends with optimized snapshot->volume and volume->volume operations. In the first iteration this functionality will not be provided. It is worth noting so that we can ensure the implementation is extensible to allow for it in the future.


A very simple alternative to this is to simply push all this logic and behavior into each volume driver and live with the duplicated code and config options. This however prohibits backends that cannot store meta-data for their volumes anywhere.

Another alternative is to not use the actual Volume objects and to expand the image cache table to have enough information for a backend to create volumes and clones from it (maybe metadata type values?). Then we could add new API’s to the volume driver such as ‘create_cached_image_volume’, ‘delete_cached_image_volume’, ‘create_volume_from_cached_image’, and so on. This would put more of the logic into the volume drivers, but requires them to implement these new methods. The benefit here is that we don’t start having special ‘internal’ volumes. The downside being that each driver then has to implement all of these methods which would do almost the same thing as create_volume, delete_volume, etc, but with different parameters.

Data model impact

A new database table for the image cache.

|    NAME    |    TYPE   |           DESCRIPTION          |
|            |           |                                |
| id         |  String   |  Auto generated UUID           |
|            |           |                                |
| updated_at |  DateTime |  The updated_at time from the  |
|            |           | image metadata                 |
|            |           |                                |
| host_id    |  String   |  ForeignKey for that   |
|            |           | has the backing volume         |
|            |           |                                |
| volume_id  |  String   |  ForeignKey for of   |
|            |           | the backing volume             |
|            |           |                                |
| image_id   |  String   |  The image id from the image   |
|            |           | metadata                       |

REST API impact


Security impact

The special Cinder owned tenant could potentially be a risk if someone was able to get a hold of its credentials or access the image-volumes. Worst case someone could alter the cached image volumes if they had permission to attach and write to them directly.

Care will have to be taken to ensure it isn’t accessible by normal users.

Notifications impact

New info log messages and event notifications for whether the cache hit or missed. That way there is enough info to determine how effective it is and if settings need to be adjusted.

Other end user impact


Performance Impact

This should improve performance on average for systems that can do efficient volume clones when doing create volume from image. There will be many factors involved as to how much it changes, but it is unlikely to be much slower.

It is possible this will add some delay on occasional requests which hit a ‘worst case’ scenario of having to do the database lookups, trying to create from a cached image, failing because it got evicted, and then doing the image download. In situations where that occurs frequently the cache size could be modified or the feature disabled.

Other deployer impact

New configuration options for a cinder backend that would potentially need to be set:

  • image_volume_cache_enabled (Boolean)
  • image_volume_cache_max_size_gb (Integer)
  • image_volume_cache_max_size_percent (Integer)
  • image_volume_cache_max_count (Integer)

Developer impact

Just new DB API’s and tables to be aware of.



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:

Work Items

  • DB changes
  • create_volume flow changes




  • DB migration tests
  • Unit tests for DB API’s
  • Unit tests for flow changes

Documentation Impact

New configuration options.