A guest post by Henry Wong & Erik Zandboer

I am excited to announce that the PowerStore CSI driver and the Unity XT CSI driver are now available in the Rancher Marketplace. Customers have always been able to deploy the CSI drivers on any compatible Kubernetes cluster through a series of manual steps and command lines. If you are using Rancher to manage your Kubernetes clusters, you can now seamlessly deploy the drivers to the managed Kubernetes clusters through the familiar Rancher UI.

Dell CSI drivers

PowerStore CSI driver and Unity XT CSI driver are storage providers for Kubernetes that provide persistent storage for containers. Many containerized workloads, such as databases, often require storing data for a long period of time. The data also needs to follow the containers whenever they move between the Kubernetes nodes. With Dell CSI drivers, database applications can easily request and mount the storage from Dell storage systems as part of the automated workflow. Customers also benefit from the advanced data protection and data reduction features of Dell storage systems.

SUSE Rancher

Rancher is a high-performing open-source Kubernetes management platform. For those who operate and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters across on-premises and in the cloud, Rancher is an attractive solution because of its powerful features that unify the management and security of multiple Kubernetes clusters. Rancher can deploy and manage clusters running on on-premises infrastructure, such as VMware vSphere and on cloud providers such as Azure AKS, Google GKS, and Amazon EKS. Rancher also enhances and simplifies security with centralized user authentication, access control, and observability. The integrated App Catalog provides easy access to third-party applications and simplifies the deployment of complex applications.

The benefits of deploying Dell CSI drivers through the Rancher App Catalog are:

  • The App Catalog is based on Helm, a Kubernetes package manager. Dell CSI drivers include the Helm charts in the App Catalog to facilitate the installation and deployment process.
  • You can be confident that both Dell and SUSE have validated the deployment process.
  • A single management UI to manage all aspects of your Kubernetes clusters.
  • Enhances and centralizes user authentication and access control.
  • Simplifies the deployment process with fewer command lines and an intuitive HTML5 UI.
  • Pre-defined configurations are supplied. You can take the default values or make any necessary adjustments based on your needs.
  • Makes it easy to monitor and troubleshoot issues. You can view the status and log files of the cluster components and applications directly in the UI.

How to deploy the CSI driver in Rancher

Let me show you a simple deployment of the CSI driver in Rancher here.

NOTE: Dell CSI drivers are regularly updated for compatibility with the latest Kubernetes version. Keep in mind that the information in this article might change in future releases. To get the latest updates, check the documentation on the Dell Github page (https://dell.github.io/csm-docs/docs).

1.  First, review the requirements of the CSI driver. On the Rancher home page, click on a managed cluster. Then, on the left side panel, go to Apps > Charts. In the filter field, enter dell csi to narrow down the results. Click on the CSI driver you want to install. The install page displays the driver’s readme file that describes the overall installation process and the prerequisites for the driver. Perform all necessary prerequisite steps before moving on to the next step.

These prerequisites include, but are not limited to, ensuring that the iSCSI software, NVMe software, and NFS software are available on the target Kubernetes nodes, and that FC zoning is in place.

2.  Create a new namespace for the CSI driver in which the driver software will be installed. On the left side panel, go to Cluster Projects/Namespaces and create a new namespace. Create a csi-powerstore namespace for PowerStore or a unity namespace for Unity XT.

You can optionally define the Container Resource Limit if desired.

3.  The CSI driver requires the array connection and credential information. Create a secret to store this information for the storage systems. On the left side panel, go to Cluster > Storage Secrets.

For PowerStore:

  • Create an Opaque (generic) secret using a key-value pair in the csi-powerstore namespace.
  • The secret name must be powerstore-config, with the single key name config. Copy the contents of the secret.yaml file to the value field. A sample secret.yaml file with parameter definitions is available here.
  • You can define multiple arrays in the same secret.

For Unity XT:

  • Create an Opaque (generic) secret using the key-value pair in the unity namespace.
  • The secret name must be unity-creds, with the single key name config. Copy the contents of the secret.yaml file to the value field. A sample secret.yaml file is available here.
  • You can define multiple arrays in the same secret.
  • The Unity XT CSI driver also requires a certificate secret for Unity XT certificate validation. The secrets are named unity-certs-0unity-certs-1, and so on. Each secret contains the X509 certificate of the CA that signed the Unisphere SSL certificate, in PEM format. More information is available here.

4.  Now, we are ready to install the CSI driver. Go to Apps > Charts and select the CSI driver. Click Install to start the guided installation process.

Select the appropriate namespace (csi-powerstore or unity) for the corresponding driver.

The guided installation also pre-populates the driver configuration in key/value parameters. Review and modify the configuration to suit your requirements. You can find the detailed information about these parameters in the Helm Chart info page (Click the ViewChart Info button on the installation page). (A copy of the values.yaml file that the installation uses is available here for PowerStore and here for Unity XT.)

When the installation starts, you can monitor its progress in Rancher and observe the different resources being created and started. The UI also offers easy access to the resource log files to help troubleshooting issues during the installation.

5.  Before using the CSI driver to provision Dell storage, we need to create StorageClasses that define which storage array to use and their attributes. The StorageClasses are used in Persistent Volumes to dynamically provision persistent storage.

To create StorageClasses for Dell storage systems, we use the Import YAML function to create them. If you use the Create function under Storage > StorageClasses, the UI does not offer the Dell storage provisioners in the drop-down menu. Copy and paste the contents of the StorageClass yaml file to the Import Dialog window. (Sample PowerStore StorageClasses yaml files are available here; sample Unity XT StorageClasses yaml files are available here.)

Congratulations! You have now deployed the Dell CSI driver in a Kubernetes Cluster using Rancher and are ready to provision persistent storage for the cluster applications.


Deploying and managing Dell CSI drivers on multiple Kubernetes clusters is made simple with Rancher. Dell storage systems are ideal storage platforms for containers to satisfy the need for flexible, scalable, and highly efficient storage. The powerful features of Rancher streamline the deployment and operation of Kubernetes clusters with unified management and security.


Below, you can watch a demo, showing you how to install it for, Dell PowerStore

and below, you can watch a demo, showing you how to install it for, Dell PowerFlex

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