Network and security models

A share driver in the Shared File Systems service is a Python class that can be set for the back end and run in it to manage share operations, some of which are vendor-specific. The back end is an instance of manila-share service. There are a big number of share drivers created by different vendors in the Shared File Systems service. Each share driver supports one or more back end modes: share servers and no share servers. An administrator chooses which mode is used by specifying it in manila.conf configuration file. An option driver_handles_share_servers is used for it.

The share servers mode can be configured with flat network, or with segmented network. This depends on the network provider.

It is possible to have separate drivers for different modes use the same hardware, if you want to have different configurations. Depending on which mode is chosen, an administrator may need to provide more configuration details through the configuration file.

Share back ends modes

Each share driver supports at least one of the possible driver modes:

  • share servers mode

  • no share servers mode

The configuration option in manila.conf that sets share servers mode or no share servers mode is the driver_handles_share_servers option. It indicates whether a driver handles share servers by itself or it expects the Shared File Systems service to do it.


Config option


share servers

driver_handles_share_servers = True

The share driver creates the share server and manages, or handles, the share server life cycle.

no share servers

driver_handles_share_servers = False

An administrator rather than a share driver manages the bare metal storage with some net interface insteadof the presence of the share servers.

No share servers mode

In this mode, drivers have basically no network requirements whatsoever. It’s assumed that storage controller being managed by the driver has all of the network interfaces it’s going to need. The Shared File Systems service will expect the driver to provision shares directly without creating any share server beforehand. This mode corresponds to what some existing drivers are already doing, but it makes the choice explicit for the administrator. In this mode, the share networks are not needed at share creation time and must not be provided.


In no share servers mode the Shared File Systems service will assume that the network interfaces through which any shares are exported are already reachable by all tenants.

In the no share servers mode a share driver does not handle storage life cycle. An administrator is expected to handle the storage, network interfaces, and other host configurations. In this mode an administrator can set storage as a host which exports shares. The main characteristic of this mode is that the storage is not handled by the Shared File Systems service. Users in a tenant share common network, host, processor, and network pipe. They can hinder each other if there is no correct balancing adjustment on the storage configured by admin or proxy before it. In public clouds it is possible that all network capacity is used by one client, so an administrator should care for this not to happen. Balancing adjustment can be done by any means, not necessarily with OpenStack tools.

Share servers mode

In this mode, a driver is able to create share servers and plug them to existing networks. When providing a new share server, drivers expect an IP address and subnet from the Shared File Systems service.

Unlike no share servers mode, in share servers mode users have a share network and a share server that is created for each share network. Thus all users have separate CPU, amount of CPU time, network, capacity and throughput.

You also can configure security services in both share servers and no share servers back-end modes. But with no share servers back-end mode, an administrator should set desired authentication services manually on the host. And in share servers mode the Shared File Systems service can be configured automatically with any existing security services supported by the share driver.

Flat vs segmented networking

The Shared File Systems service allows to work with different types of a network:

  • flat

  • GRE

  • VLAN



The Shared File Systems service is merely keeping the information about networks in the database, and real networks are provided by the network provider. In OpenStack it can be Legacy networking (nova-network) or Networking (neutron) services, but the Shared File Systems service can work even out of OpenStack. That is allowed by StandaloneNetworkPlugin that can be used with any network platform and does not require some specific network services in OpenStack like Networking or Legacy networking services. You can set the network parameters in its configuration file.

In share servers back-end mode a share driver creates and manages a share server for each share network. This mode can be divided in two variations:

  • Flat network in share servers back-end mode

  • Segmented network in share servers back-end mode

Initially, when creating a share network, you can set up either a network and subnet of the OpenStack Networking (neutron) or a network of Legacy networking (nova-network) services. The third approach is to configure the networking without Legacy networking and Networking services. StandaloneNetworkPlugin can be used with any network platform. You can set network parameters in its configuration file.


All share drivers that use the OpenStack Compute service do not use network plug-ins. In Mitaka release it is Windows and Generic drivers. These share drives have other options and use different approach.

After a share network is created, the Shared File Systems service retrieves network information determined by a network provider: network type, segmentation identifier if the network uses segmentation and IP block in CIDR notation from which to allocate the network.

Flat network in share servers back-end mode

In this mode, some storage controllers can create share servers but due to various limitations of physical or logical network all of share servers have to be on a flat network. In this mode, a share driver needs something to provision IP addresses for share servers, but IPs will all come out of the same subnet and that subnet itself is assumed to be reachable by all tenants.

The security service part of share networks specify security requirements such as AD or LDAP domains or a Kerberos realm. The Shared File Systems service assumes that any hosts referred to in security service are reachable from a subnet where a share server is created, which limits the number of cases where this mode could be used.

Segmented network in share servers back-end mode

In this mode, a share driver is able to create share servers and plug them to an existing segmented network. Share drivers expect the Shared File Systems service to provide a subnet definition for every new share server. This definition should include segmentation type, segmentation ID, and any other info relevant to the segmentation type.


Some share drivers may not support all types of segmentation, for details see specification for the driver in use.

Network plug-ins

The Shared File Systems service architecture defines an abstraction layer for network resource provisioning. It allows administrators to choose from different options for how network resources are assigned to their tenants’ networked storage. There are several network plug-ins that provide a variety of integration approaches with the network services that are available with OpenStack.

Network plug-ins allow to use any functions, configurations of the OpenStack Networking and Legacy networking services. One can use any network segmentation that the Networking service supports, you can use flat networks or VLAN-segmented networks of the Legacy networking (nova-network) service, or you can use plug-ins for specifying networks independently from OpenStack networking services. For more information of how to use different network plug-ins, see Shared File Systems service Network plug-ins.