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Blog: Kubernetes 1.25: CSI Inline Volumes have graduated to GA

Author: Jonathan Dobson (Red Hat)

CSI Inline Volumes were introduced as an alpha feature in Kubernetes 1.15 and have been beta since 1.16. We are happy to announce that this feature has graduated to General Availability (GA) status in Kubernetes 1.25.

CSI Inline Volumes are similar to other ephemeral volume types, such as configMap, downwardAPI and secret. The important difference is that the storage is provided by a CSI driver, which allows the use of ephemeral storage provided by third-party vendors. The volume is defined as part of the pod spec and follows the lifecycle of the pod, meaning the volume is created once the pod is scheduled and destroyed when the pod is destroyed.

What's new in 1.25?

There are a couple of new bug fixes related to this feature in 1.25, and the CSIInlineVolume feature gate has been locked to True with the graduation to GA. There are no new API changes, so users of this feature during beta should not notice any significant changes aside from these bug fixes.

When to use this feature

CSI inline volumes are meant for simple local volumes that should follow the lifecycle of the pod. They may be useful for providing secrets, configuration data, or other special-purpose storage to the pod from a CSI driver.

A CSI driver is not suitable for inline use when:

  • The volume needs to persist longer than the lifecycle of a pod
  • Volume snapshots, cloning, or volume expansion are required
  • The CSI driver requires volumeAttributes that should be restricted to an administrator

How to use this feature

In order to use this feature, the CSIDriver spec must explicitly list Ephemeral as one of the supported volumeLifecycleModes. Here is a simple example from the Secrets Store CSI Driver.

apiVersion: storage.k8s.io/v1
kind: CSIDriver
name: secrets-store.csi.k8s.io
podInfoOnMount: true
attachRequired: false
- Ephemeral

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Any pod spec may then reference that CSI driver to create an inline volume, as in this example.

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
name: my-csi-app-inline
- name: my-frontend
image: busybox
- name: secrets-store-inline
mountPath: "/mnt/secrets-store"
readOnly: true
command: ["sleep", "1000000"]
- name: secrets-store-inline
driver: secrets-store.csi.k8s.io
readOnly: true
secretProviderClass: "my-provider"

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If the driver supports any volume attributes, you can provide these as part of the spec for the Pod as well:

driver: block.csi.vendor.example
foo: bar

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Example Use Cases

Two existing CSI drivers that support the Ephemeral volume lifecycle mode are the Secrets Store CSI Driver and the Cert-Manager CSI Driver.

The Secrets Store CSI Driver allows users to mount secrets from external secret stores into a pod as an inline volume. This can be useful when the secrets are stored in an external managed service or Vault instance.

The Cert-Manager CSI Driver works along with cert-manager to seamlessly request and mount certificate key pairs into a pod. This allows the certificates to be renewed and updated in the application pod automatically.

Security Considerations

Special consideration should be given to which CSI drivers may be used as inline volumes. volumeAttributes are typically controlled through the StorageClass, and may contain attributes that should remain restricted to the cluster administrator. Allowing a CSI driver to be used for inline ephmeral volumes means that any user with permission to create pods may also provide volumeAttributes to the driver through a pod spec.

Cluster administrators may choose to omit (or remove) Ephemeral from volumeLifecycleModes in the CSIDriver spec to prevent the driver from being used as an inline ephemeral volume, or use an admission webhook to restrict how the driver is used.


For more information on this feature, see:

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