Backup Snapshots

Currently we can backup a volume, but not a snapshot. This spec proposes to provide a way to backup snapshots.

Problem description

Today we can backup a volume, but we cannot directly backup a snapshot. The ability to backup a volume directly is valuable because it allows a volume to be backed up in one step. Also volume backup has been available ever since backup was introduced in Cinder. Users also take snapshots from the volumes as a way to protect their data. These snapshots reside on the storage backend itself. Providing a way to backup snapshots directly will allow the user to protect the snapshots taken from the volumes on a backup device, separately from the storage backend.

Use Cases

There are users who have taken many snapshots and would like a way to protect these snapshots. This proposal to backup snapshots provides another layer of data protection.

There are other projects in OpenStack focusing on data protection such as Freezer, Smaug, Raksha, etc. They are all in different stages of design, development, or adoption. The backup API in Cinder is not a replacement of those projects which are doing a full blown orchestration of data protection for all resources in OpenStack (not just block storage). Instead, Cinder APIs can be consumed by those higher level projects for data protection and can also be used directly by users who do not need those higher level projects.

Proposed change

In summary, the following changes will happen:

  • A field snapshot_id will be added to the request body of the existing backup API.
  • A new column snapshot_id will be added to the backups table.
  • The backup_volume logic in and will be changed to use the snapshot_id if it is not None.
  • The logic to find the latest parent during the incremental backup will be adjusted to take into account backups from snapshots.

Note: No new driver API will be introduced in this proposal.

Steps to create a backup from snapshot are as follows by default using the internal tenant:

  • Create a temporary volume from the snapshot
  • Attach the temporary volume
  • Do backup from the temporary volume
  • Detach the temporary volume
  • Cleanup temporary volume

If the driver has implemented the attach snapshot interface introduced in the Liberty release (see the developer impact section), backing up a snapshot will be done using the following steps:

  • Attach the snapshot
  • Do backup from the snapshot
  • Detach the snapshot

For incremental backups, because the latest parent is calculated automatically by looking at the timestamps, the logic has to be changed to accommodate backups from snapshots. For backups from snapshots, we need to look at the timestamps of the snapshots; for backups from volumes, we still look at the timestamps of the backups as before. The parent of an incremental backup of a snapshot could be a backup from a previous snapshot or a backup from the volume, depending on the timestamps when the previous snapshot was taken vs when the volume backup was taken. The backup with the latest timestamp will be chosen as the parent. A new column will be created to record the timestamp of the data in the backups table. For a backup from volume, the data timestamp field will be the same as the created_at field in the backups table. For a backup from snapshot, the data timestamp field will be the same as the created_at field of the snapshot.


Here is a manual alternative:

  • Create a volume from the snapshot
  • Backup the volume
  • Delete the volume

Data model impact

Add the following new column to the backups table for snapshot id. This field will be null if the backup is from a volume:

snapshot_id = Column(String(36))

Add the folowing new column to the backups table to record the timestamp of the data:

data_timestamp = Column(DateTime)

Note that the following column will still be required for a backup from snapshot:

volume_id = Column(String(36), nullable=False)

REST API impact

Change the existing create backup API to take a snapshot id. Either volume_id or snapshot_id has to be provided for the create backup API, but not both. The snapshot_id is required for backing up a snapshot.

  • Create backup

    • V2/<tenant id>/backups

    • Method: POST

    • JSON schema definition for V2:

              "display_name": "nightly001",  # existing
              "display_description": "Nightly backup",  # existing
              "volume_id": "xxxxxxxx",  # existing
              "snapshot_id": "xxxxxxxx",  # new
              "container": "nightlybackups",

Security impact


Notifications impact

Currently notifications are sent out when a backup is created, restored, and deleted. The notification data needs to be updated with the snapshot_id if necessary.

Other end user impact

End user will be able to create a backup from a snapshot.

Performance Impact

No obvious performance impact.

Other deployer impact

The deployer will be able to backup a snapshot.

Developer impact

All volume drivers will get the backup from snapshot feature with this proposal. No additional changes are required.

If a driver wants to use a more optimal way by attaching the snapshot, it can implement the following interfaces that were added in the Liberty release to support non-disruptive backups:

  • initialize_connection_snapshot
  • terminate_connection_snapshot
  • create_export_snapshot
  • remove_export_snapshot

The following function can also be overridden by the driver which returns False by default:

  • backup_use_temp_snapshot

Note: All of the driver APIs specified above were added in the Liberty release. No new driver APIs are introduced by this spec.



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:

Work Items

  • Make changes to the backup API to support backup snapshot.
  • Make changes to the backups db table to add a snapshot_id column.
  • Make changes to the backup_volume function in and to support backing up a snapshot.
  • Make changes to the incremental backups to take into account backups created from snapshots.
  • Make sure the code has good comments to explain different code paths.




Unit tests and tempest tests will be provided.

Documentation Impact

Documentation will be modified to describe how to use this feature. We will make sure both the existing use cases and the new use cases are clearly documented to avoid any confusion. The following should be covered:

  • Do a full backup of a volume with status being ‘available’ or ‘in-use’.
  • Do an incremental backup of a volume with status being ‘available’ or ‘in-use’.
  • Do a full backup of a snapshot.
  • Do an incremental backup of a snapshot.

Developer documentation should also be created to explain how the different backup cases are handled and how it would impact the developers working on drivers.


Code is submitted here: