Managing storage is a distinct problem from managing compute resources. OpenShift leverages the Kubernetes PersistentVolume subsystem, which provides an API for users and administrators that abstracts details of how storage is provided from how it is consumed. This subsystem uses the PersistentVolume and PersistentVolumeClaim API objects.

A PersistentVolume (PV) object represents a piece of existing networked storage in the cluster that has been provisioned by an administrator. It is a resource in the cluster just like a node is a cluster resource. PVs are volume plug-ins like Volumes, but have a lifecycle independent of any individual pod that uses the PV. PV objects capture the details of the implementation of the storage, be that NFS, iSCSI, or a cloud-provider-specific storage system.

High-availability of storage in the infrastructure is left to the underlying storage provider.

A PersistentVolumeClaim (PVC) object represents a request for storage by a user. It is similar to a pod in that pods consume node resources and PVCs consume PV resources. For example, pods can request specific levels of resources (e.g., CPU and memory), while PVCs can request specific storage capacity and access modes (e.g, they can be mounted once read/write or many times read-only).

Lifecycle of a Volume and Claim

PVs are resources in the cluster. PVCs are requests for those resources and also act as claim checks to the resource. The interaction between PVs and PVCs have the following lifecycle.


A cluster administrator creates some number of PVs. They carry the details of the real storage that is available for use by cluster users. They exist in the API and are available for consumption.


A user creates a PersistentVolumeClaim with a specific amount of storage requested and with certain access modes. A control loop in the master watches for new PVCs, finds a matching PV (if possible), and binds them together. The user will always get at least what they asked for, but the volume may be in excess of what was requested.

Claims remain unbound indefinitely if a matching volume does not exist. Claims are bound as matching volumes become available. For example, a cluster provisioned with many 50Gi volumes would not match a PVC requesting 100Gi. The PVC can be bound when a 100Gi PV is added to the cluster.


Pods use claims as volumes. The cluster inspects the claim to find the bound volume and mounts that volume for a pod. For those volumes that support multiple access modes, the user specifies which mode is desired when using their claim as a volume in a pod.

Once a user has a claim and that claim is bound, the bound PV belongs to the user for as long as they need it. Users schedule pods and access their claimed PVs by including a persistentVolumeClaim in their pod’s volumes block. See below for syntax details.


When a user is done with a volume, they can delete the PVC object from the API which allows reclamation of the resource. The volume is considered "released" when the claim is deleted, but it is not yet available for another claim. The previous claimant’s data remains on the volume which must be handled according to policy.


The reclaim policy of a PersistentVolume tells the cluster what to do with the volume after it is released. Currently, volumes can either be retained or recycled.

Retention allows for manual reclamation of the resource. For those volume plug-ins that support it, recycling performs a basic scrub on the volume (e.g., rm -rf /<volume>/*) and makes it available again for a new claim.

Persistent Volumes

Each PV contains a spec and status, which is the specification and status of the volume.

Example 1. Persistent Volume Object Definition
  apiVersion: v1
  kind: PersistentVolume
    name: pv0003
      storage: 5Gi
      - ReadWriteOnce
    persistentVolumeReclaimPolicy: Recycle
      path: /tmp

Types of Persistent Volumes

OpenShift Enterprise currently supports the following PersistentVolume plug-ins:

More plug-ins are available but are currently in Technology Preview:


Generally, a PV will have a specific storage capacity. This is set using the PV’s capacity attribute. See the Kubernetes Resource Model to understand the units expected by capacity.

Currently, storage capacity is the only resource that can be set or requested. Future attributes may include IOPS, throughput, etc.

Access Modes

A PersistentVolume can be mounted on a host in any way supported by the resource provider. Providers will have different capabilities and each PV’s access modes are set to the specific modes supported by that particular volume. For example, NFS can support multiple read/write clients, but a specific NFS PV might be exported on the server as read-only. Each PV gets its own set of access modes describing that specific PV’s capabilities.

The access modes are:

Access Mode CLI Abbreviation Description



The volume can be mounted as read-write by a single node.



The volume can be mounted read-only by many nodes.



The volume can be mounted as read-write by many nodes.

A volume can only be mounted using one access mode at a time, even if it supports many. For example, a GCE Persistent Disk can be mounted as ReadWriteOnce by a single node or ReadOnlyMany by many nodes, but not at the same time.

Recycling Policy

The current recycling policies are:

Recycling Policy Description


Manual reclamation


Basic scrub (e.g, rm -rf /<volume>/*)

Currently, NFS and HostPath support recycling.


A volumes can be found in one of the following phases:

Phase Description


A free resource that is not yet bound to a claim.


The volume is bound to a claim.


The claim has been deleted, but the resource is not yet reclaimed by the cluster.


The volume has failed its automatic reclamation.

The CLI shows the name of the PVC bound to the PV.

Persistent Volume Claims

Each PVC contains a spec and status, which is the specification and status of the claim.

Example 2. Persistent Volume Claim Object Definition
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
apiVersion: v1
  name: myclaim
    - ReadWriteOnce
      storage: 8Gi

Access Modes

Claims use the same conventions as volumes when requesting storage with specific access modes.


Claims, like pods, can request specific quantities of a resource. In this case, the request is for storage. The same resource model applies to both volumes and claims.

Claims As Volumes

Pods access storage by using the claim as a volume. Claims must exist in the same namespace as the pod using the claim. The cluster finds the claim in the pod’s namespace and uses it to get the PersistentVolume backing the claim. The volume is then mounted to the host and into the pod:

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: mypod
    - name: myfrontend
      image: dockerfile/nginx
      - mountPath: "/var/www/html"
        name: mypd
    - name: mypd
        claimName: myclaim