Dynamic Export Policies with ONTAP NAS

The 20.04 release of CSI Trident provides the ability to dynamically manage export policies for ONTAP backends. This provides the storage administrator the ability to specify a permissible address space for worker node IPs, rather than defining explicit rules manually. Since Trident automates the export policy creation and configuration, it greatly simplifies export policy management for the storage admin and the Kubernetes admin; modifications to the export policy no longer require manual intervention on the storage cluster. Moreover, this helps restrict access to the storage cluster only to worker nodes that have IPs in the range specified, supporting a finegrained and automated managment.



The auto-management of export policies is only available for CSI Trident. It is important to ensure that the worker nodes are not being NATed. For Trident to discover the node IPs and add rules to the export policy dynamically, it must be able to discover the node IPs.

There are two configuration options that must be used. Here’s an example backend definition:

    "version": 1,
    "storageDriverName": "ontap-nas",
    "backendName": "ontap_nas_auto_export,
    "managementLIF": "",
    "svm": "svm1",
    "username": "vsadmin",
    "password": "FaKePaSsWoRd",
    "autoExportCIDRs": [""],
    "autoExportPolicy": true


When using auto export policies, you must ensure that the root junction in your SVM has a pre-created export policy with an export rule that permits the node CIDR block (such as the default export policy). All volumes created by Trident are mounted under the root junction. Always follow NetApp’s recommended best practice of dedicating a SVM for Trident.

How it works

From the example shown above:

  1. autoExportPolicy is set to true. This indicates that Trident will create an export policy for the svm1 SVM and handle the addition and deletion of rules using the autoExportCIDRs address blocks. The export policy will be named using the format trident-<uuid>. For example, a backend with UUID 403b5326-8482-40db-96d0-d83fb3f4daec and autoExportPolicy set to true will see Trident create an export policy named trident-403b5326-8482-40db-96d0-d83fb3f4daec on the SVM.

  2. autoExportCIDRs contains a list of address blocks. This field is optional and it defaults to ["", "::/0"]. If not defined, Trident adds all globally-scoped unicast addresses found on the worker nodes.

    In this example, the address space is provided. This indicates that Kubernetes node IPs that fall within this address range will be added by Trident to the export policy it creates in (1). When Trident registers a node it runs on, it retrieves the IP addresses of the node and checks them against the address blocks provided in autoExportCIDRs. After filtering the IPs, Trident creates export policy rules for the client IPs it discovers, with one rule for each node it identifies.

    The autoExportPolicy and autoExportCIDRs parameters can be updated for backends after they are created. You can append new CIDRs for a backend that’s automatically managed or delete existing CIDRs. Exercise care when deleting CIDRs to ensure that existing connections are not dropped. You can also choose to disable autoExportPolicy for a backend and fall back to a manually created export policy. This will require setting the exportPolicy parameter in your backend config.

After Trident creates/updates a backend, you can check the backend using tridentctl or the corresponding tridentbackend CRD:

$ ./tridentctl get backends ontap_nas_auto_export -n trident -o yaml
- backendUUID: 403b5326-8482-40db-96d0-d83fb3f4daec
    aggregate: ""
    autoExportPolicy: true
    backendName: ontap_nas_auto_export
    chapInitiatorSecret: ""
    chapTargetInitiatorSecret: ""
    chapTargetUsername: ""
    chapUsername: ""
    debug: false
    debugTraceFlags: null
      encryption: "false"
      exportPolicy: <automatic>
      fileSystemType: ext4

Updating your Kubernetes cluster configuration

As nodes are added to a Kubernetes cluster and registered with the Trident controller, export policies of existing backends are updated (provided they fall in the address range specified in the autoExportCIDRs for the backend). The CSI Trident daemonset spins up a pod on all available nodes in the Kuberentes cluster. Upon registering an eligible node, Trident checks if it contains IP addresses in the CIDR block that is allowed on a per-backend basis. Trident then updates the export policies of all possible backends, adding a rule for each node that meets the criteria.

A similar workflow is observed when nodes are deregistered from the Kubernetes cluster. When a node is removed, Trident checks all backends that are online to remove the access rule for the node. By removing this node IP from the export policies of managed backends, Trident prevents rogue mounts, unless this IP is reused by a new node in the cluster.

Updating legacy backends

For previously existing backends, updating the backend with tridentctl update backend will ensure Trident manages the export policies automatically. This will create a new export policy named after the backend’s UUID and volumes that are present on the backend will use the newly created export policy when they are mounted again.


Deleting a backend with auto managed export policies will delete the dynamically created export policy. If the backend is recreated, it is treated as a new backend and will result in the creation of a new export policy.


If the IP address of a live node is updated, you must restart the Trident pod on the node. Trident will then update the export policy for backends it manages to reflect this IP change.