Use Libvirt Storage Pool Methods to Migrate Libvirt Volumes

Use Libvirt Storage Pool Methods to Migrate Libvirt Volumes

Include the URL of your launchpad blueprint:

Currently, the libvirt driver uses SSH (rsync or scp) to do cold migrations and resizes on non-shared storage. This requires SSH permissions between compute nodes, which is problematic for a number of reasons. Instead we can use the methods built in to libvirt’s storage pool API to do migrations.

NOTE: this proposal requires Use libvirt storage pools (Gerrit Spec Review).

Problem description

The primary issue is that, currently, the Nova libvirt driver requires SSH access between compute nodes to perform cold migrations and resizes on non-shared storage. This presents several issues:

  • From a security perspective, providing SSH access between compute nodes is sub-optimal. Giving compute nodes SSH access could allow a compromised node to compromise other nodes and potentially inflict harm on a cloud.

  • From a setup perspective, it adds several extra steps to a setup: System administrators, or their setup tools, must generate a keypair for each compute node, and upload the public key to each of the other compute nodes.

Proposed change

As specified in blueprint mentioned above, Nova’s disk images would be placed in a libvirt storage pool. At migration time, a new volume would be created in the destination node’s storage pool, and the methods virStorageVolDowload and virStorageVolUpload would be used to stream the contents of the disk between compute nodes (

In order to ensure secure migrations, libvirt should be configured to use one of the various forms of authentication and encryption that it supports, such as Kerberos (via SASL – or TLS client certificates (

Note that this would only apply to setups using the new image backend described in the previous blueprint; setups using the “legacy” image backends would continue to use the SSH method until the “legacy” image backends are removed.


  • Requiring shared storage for cold migrations and resizes: there are many OpenStack users who would like to be able to perform cold migrations and resizes without having shared storage.

  • Just setting up SSH keys between compute nodes: see the problem description

  • Temporarily provisioning SSH keys for the duration of the migration: While this somewhat mitigates the security issue and remove the extra setup steps, it still provides a window where the compute nodes are vulnerable. It would be much harder to secure, and would require having Nova be able to securely generate SSH keys.

  • Using an rsync daemon: People seemed to be averse to requiring an rsync daemon. Additionally, rsync daemon connections are not encryptable out of the box, although they can be run over stunnel.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Security impact

While this change does require two compute nodes’ libvirt daemons to connect to each other, such a process is already done by live migration. While the disks would no longer be encrypted by SSH while transfering, system administrators could simply secure the libvirt connections instead ( Libvirt supports TLS for encryption with x509 client certificates for authentication, as well as SASL for GSSAPI/Kerberos encryption and authentication.

Notifications impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact

There are a couple potential performance issues:

  • Rsync compresses compress the contents to be transfered, but AFAIK libvirt does not (although this is being worked on in conjunction with the libvirt developers). This could result in more data being transfered over the network.

  • The actually streaming process would be using python as an intermediary (e.g. data = stream1.recv(1024*64); stream2.send(data), although the actual code would properly support async IO, detection of partial sends, etc). While this would be less performant than having C code which would do the transfer, I suspect there are ways in which we could optimize the code.

Other deployer impact

In order for the new method to work, deployers would have to enable the libvirt daemon on each compute node to listen for remote libvirt connections (if live migrations are enabled, this has already been done). Such connections must be secured as noted in Security Impact.

Developer impact




Primary assignee:


Other contributors:


Work Items

  1. Implement the virStorageVolUpload/virStorageVolDownload code in the migrate_disk_and_power_off method, replacing the existing calls to libvirt_utils.copy_image.

  2. Follow Up: remove the instances of SSH that create the instance directory and detect shared storage. These could easily be done in a pre-migration method, similarly to how live-migration works currently.


Since this only changes how migration works under the hood, existing migration tests should be sufficient for the most part.

Documentation Impact

For the OpenStack Security Guide, we should document that SSH keys are no longer required between compute nodes, as well as provide instructions for securing remove libvirtd connections.

In the Compute Admin Guide, we should provide instructions for how to enable remote libvirtd connections (as required for libvirt live migration), as well as noting that these connections need to be secured, as per the Security Guide.

Since much of this documentation also applies to libvirt live migrations, it may be beneficial to place the instructions in a “general” section and link to it from both the libvirt cold migrations and libvirt live migrations documentation.

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