Version 1.3. This version is no longer supported as outlined in the Anthos version support policy. For the latest patches and updates for security vulnerabilities, exposures, and issues impacting Anthos clusters on VMware (GKE on-prem), upgrade to a supported version. You can find the most recent version here.

Installing a Container Storage Interface driver

This page explains how to install a Container Storage Interface (CSI) storage driver to GKE on-prem clusters.


CSI is an open standard API that enables Kubernetes to expose arbitrary storage systems to containerized workloads. When you deploy a CSI-compatible storage driver to a GKE on-prem cluster, the cluster can connect directly to a compatible storage device without having to go through vSphere storage.

Kubernetes volumes are managed by vendor-specific storage drivers, which have historically been compiled into Kubernetes binaries. Previously, you could not use a storage driver that was not included with Kubernetes. Installing a CSI driver adds support for a storage system that is not natively supported by Kubernetes. Also, CSI enables the use of modern storage features, such as snapshots and resizing.

To use a CSI driver, you need to create a Kubernetes StorageClass. You set the CSI driver as the provisioner for the StorageClass. Then, you can set the StorageClass as the cluster's default, or configure your workloads to use the StorageClass (StatefulSet example).

Before you begin

By default, GKE on-prem uses vSphere datastores via the built-in vsphereVolume driver. Additionally, the built-in drivers for NFS and iSCSI can attach and mount existing volumes to your workloads.

Installing a vendor's CSI driver

Storage vendors develop their own CSI drivers, and they are responsible for providing installation instructions. In simple cases, installation might only involve deploying manifests to your clusters. See the list of CSI drivers in the CSI documentation.

Verifying a driver installation

After you install a CSI driver, you can verify the installation by running one of the following commands, depending on your cluster's GKE on-prem version:


kubectl get csinodes \
-o jsonpath='{range .items[*]} {}{": "} {range .spec.drivers[*]} {.name}{"\n"} {end}{end}'


kubectl get nodes \
-o jsonpath='{.items[*].metadata.annotations.csi\.volume\.kubernetes\.io\/nodeid}'

Using a CSI driver

To use a CSI driver:

  1. Create a Kubernetes StorageClass that references the driver in its provisioner field.

  2. To provision storage, you can either:

Considerations for StorageClasses backed by a CSI driver

When you create a StorageClass, consider the following:

  • CSI driver documentation should include the driver-specific parameters that you provide to your StorageClass, including the provisioner name.
  • You should name the StorageClass after its properties, rather than after the name of the specific driver or appliance behind it. Naming the StorageClass after its properties allows you to create StorageClasses with the same name across multiple clusters and environments, and allows your applications to get storage with the same properties across clusters.

Example: Reference StorageClass in a StatefulSet

The following example models how to define a CSI driver in a StorageClass, and then reference the StorageClass in a StatefulSet workload. The example assumes the driver has already been installed to the cluster.

Below is a simple StorageClass named premium-rwo that uses a fictional CSI driver,, as its provisioner:


kind: StorageClass
  name: premium-rwo
provisioner: # CSI driver
parameters: # You provide vendor-specific parameters to this specification
  type: example-parameter # Be sure to follow the vendor's instructions
  datastore: my-datastore
reclaimPolicy: Retain
allowVolumeExpansion: true

You reference the StorageClass in a StatefulSet's volumeClaimTemplates specification.

When you reference a StorageClass in a StatefulSet's volumeClaimTemplates specification, Kubernetes provides stable storage using PersistentVolumes (PVs). Kubernetes calls the provisioner defined in the StorageClass to create a new storage volume. In this case, Kubernetes calls the fictional provider, which calls out to the provider's API, to create a volume. After the volume is provisioned, Kubernetes automatically creates a PV to represent the storage.

Here is a simple StatefulSet that references the StorageClass:


apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: StatefulSet
  name: web
  replicas: 2
      app: nginx
        app: nginx
      - name: nginx
        - name: www
          mountPath: /usr/share/nginx/html
  volumeClaimTemplates: # This is the specification in which you reference the StorageClass
  - metadata:
      name: www
      accessModes: [ "ReadWriteOnce" ]
          storage: 1Gi
      storageClassName: fast # This field references the existing StorageClass

What's next