Boot a server from a Cloud Block Storage volume

  • Last updated on: 2017-01-29
  • Authored by: Trey Hoehne

You can now boot most cloud servers from a network-attached Cloud Block Storage volume. This feature enables you to boot a server from a remotely attached volume, which moves the system disk from local to remote. Separating the system disk from the server allows for future diskless flavors, features such as “shelving,” and improvements in managing and recovering from server outages.

Note: Cloud images created from large servers don’t work with this feature. If the cloud server from which the image was taken has a root disk, or if the image has a min_disk parameter larger than 127 GB, you can’t create a volume from that image. The component used to attach images to cloud servers, qemu-img, can’t handle files 127 GB or larger. Such an attempt results in an HTTP 412 invalid image error when performed through the API.

You can’t boot standard servers from a Cloud Block Storage volume. Standard servers support local boot systems only.


Booting from a Cloud Block Storage volume provides the following benefits:

  • Resiliency: Cloud Block Storage is a persistent volume and you can retain it after the server is deleted. You can then use the image to create a new server.

  • Scale: If you want to change the size of your server, you can easily delete your existing server and create a new one by using the same volume in Cloud Block Storage. If the IP address is important to your use case, we recommend placing a load balancer in front of the server.

  • Flexibility: You have control over the size and type (SSD or SATA) of volume that you use to boot your server. This control enables you to fine-tune the storage to the needs of your operating system or application.

You can get started through the Control Panel or through the API.

Setup options

Servers have a local system and can have one or more data disks depending on the flavor. Additional remote data volumes can be attached to a server; however, the local system and data are always present.

Booting from a remote volume moves the system disk off the local server. The local data disk is still present, if the flavor has one.

Booting from a volume requires a Cloud Block Storage volume built from a valid image or a volume cloned from an existing bootable volume. These volumes are charged at the current Cloud Block Storage rates and can be configured to persist after server deletion.

Volume preparation

Server images are in a VHD file format, but Cloud Block Storage requires them to be in RAW format. When a user specifies the volume type, size, and image ID for a volume, the request is sent to Cloud Block Storage. Cloud Block Storage then sends the request to an available storage node that has capacity, and the node pulls down the image and begins the conversion process. Only one conversion process can be performed at a time on a storage node; this has been identified as a potential bottleneck in the process.

A volume must be created equal to or larger than the min_disk value on an image.

After the volume is prepared, its bootable flag is set to True, and the volume is available to boot from.

Boot a server from a volume (Cloud Control Panel)

Use the following steps to boot a server from a Cloud Block Storage volume through the Cloud Control Panel.

Note: Using the API directly or a command-line client provides some added customization, such as preparing a volume independent of booting from it.

  1. In the top navigation bar, click Servers > Cloud Servers.

  2. Click Create Server.

  3. Choose your image and flavor. In the Description section of the Flavor area, click Edit next to Boot Source.

  4. In the pop-up window, select Bootable Volume (Cloud Block Storage) as the boot source and specify the size of the disk. The volume name is based on your server’s name, and the volume type is set to SSD.

  5. Click Select Boot Source.

After you create the server, your volume is prepared from the selected image.

If you delete your server, the volume persists and is available as a selectable image when you create a new server.

You can also see the volume listed on the Block Storage tab.

Boot a server from a volume (API)

The API provides two different methods to boot from a volume. You can create the volume separately from booting it, or you can build and boot the volume in one step.

Note: For more information about how this function uses the Python nova client, see The novaclient Python API OpenStack documentation.

Prepare the volume independently (option 1)

If you want to prepare the volume separately from booting it, send a request to Cloud Block Storage to create a volume. In the following example, the nova client is used:

 nova volume-create 100 --volume-type=SSD --display-name=BFB-test-SSD --image-id=ff228647-fd57-47fe-b42d-2b7813bb9115

Map to an existing volume

Use this option to perform either of the following tasks:

  • Boot with an existing volume.
  • Boot and build the volume in one step.

The following command boots a General Purpose 1 GB server from an existing volume that is prepared with the image set by the ID:

 nova boot --flavor general1-1 --block-device-mapping vda=8dcf68f9-0321-42f3-a3dc-b861b9335a9b:::0 BFVServer

Block device mapping is in the format of =:::. Type and size can be left blank, and delete on termination can be expressed as True or 1 and False or 0.

The preceding example boots a General Purpose 1 GB server from a prepared volume. It is set to persist on server termination, and it is labeled BVFServer.

Create volume request

 curl -i '' -X POST

Create volume response


Boot volume request

 curl -i '' -X POST

Boot volume response


The following example boots a General Purpose 1 GB server from a volume that is prepared with the image set by the ID. If you wanted to use this command to boot from an existing volume source would be source=volume and id would be set to the volume’s ID.

 nova boot --flavor general1-1 --block-device source=image,id=e0b7734d-2331-42a3-b19e-067adc0da17d,dest=volume,size=100,shutdown=preserve,bootindex=0 BFVServer

Note: The preceeding command builds only SATA drives and does not allow the volume to be named when it is built. The name can be changed after the volume is built and the Cloud Control Panel displays the volume ID as the name if no name is present.

Rebuild or resize the server

If you have deleted the server that was attached to the Cloud Block Storage volume, you can rebuild the server from the volume. You can also resize the server while retaining the previously attached system disk.

Note: If IP address persistence is an issue, use a load balancer to maintain a static IP address.

  1. On the Cloud Servers page of the Cloud Control Panel, click Create Server.
  2. Re-create your server by choosing your bootable volume image. In the Image area, click Bootable Volume.
  3. Select the applicable volume from the Block Storage Volume list.
  4. Adjust the size of the server under Flavor.

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