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Version: 3.1

Manage the number of storage nodes in a cluster

This page explains how Portworx automatically manages the number of storage nodes in a cluster. It also explains the need for this behavior and how you can override it.

Why limit the number of storage nodes?

The value of the spec.cloudStorage.maxStorageNodesPerZone parameter gates the number of storage nodes that can exist in a single failure domain. The following example describes an issue that you can encounter when this parameter is not set.

Consider a cluster with a single storage node per zone where maxStorageNodesPerZone is not set:

A cluster with a single storage node per zone

If your cloud provider decides to recycle the N1 node, then N1-new is the new node that replaces the node N1. It is often observed that the N1-new node starts before the N1 node is terminated, and that the N1 node may not have relinquished its disk. Thus, Portworx cannot reuse those disks in the new node N1-new, which results in creation of a new storage node with a new cloud drive, as shown in the following diagram:

New node creates new cloud drive

In this case, if the value of maxStorageNodesPerZone had seen set to 1, then N1-new node would not have created the new cloud drive Px disk-4.

How does Portworx manage storage nodes?

Portworx automatically manages the number of storage nodes in a new cluster1. This is achieved by choosing a value for the maxStorageNodesPerZone parameter2 as follows and avoids the issue explained above:

Disaggregated install(Total nodes marked as storage) / (Total zones)3
Converged install(Total nodes)4 / (Total zones)3

Here are some examples of how Portworx chooses the default value of maxStorageNodesPerZone using the above formulas:

Number of zonesTotal nodes or Total Nodes marked storageDefault value of maxStorageNodesPerZone

How do I override the value of maxStorageNodesPerZone?

Depending on whether you are performing a fresh install or modifying an existing installation, proceed to one of the following sections.

A fresh installation

You can use any one of the following methods to set a value for maxStorageNodesPerZone so that Portworx does not set this value automatically:

  • While generating a Portworx spec from Portworx Central, perform the following steps:

    1. On the Basic page, select the latest Portworx version from the Portworx Version dropdown and click Next.

    2. On the Storage page, select a cloud provider and then specify a number in the Max storage nodes per availability zone option.

  • Add the following to your generated Portworx spec:

    maxStorageNodesPerZone: <custom-value>

0 is a special value for maxStorageNodesPerZone2, which keeps the number of storage nodes unbounded in a cluster. Every node that joins the cluster will be a storage node. This value must be used with great caution to avoid the situation mentioned previously.

An existing installation

Add more storage nodes by increasing the value of maxStorageNodesPerZone in the StorageCluster spec.


If you are using Portworx version 2.12 or earlier, you must decommission the storageless nodes, and the new nodes will come up as storage nodes. Starting with version 2.12.1, when Portworx is restarted on a storageless node, the node is automatically converted into a storage node.

How is a zone determined?

For different environments, the following table shows how zones are determined:

Cloud providerZone
Public clouds, such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or IBM CloudDetected by Portworx using cloud providers APIs.
VMware vSphere or VMware Tanzu
  • The value of the zone label determines the zone for the node.
  • Single zone. If the zone label is not specified, every node is considered to be in a single default zone.
Pure FlashArraySingle zone. No zoning labels are supported.


  1. When an existing cluster upgrades to any newer version of Portworx, maxStorageNodesPerZone is updated using the same formula mentioned above. Portworx can perform this update only if maxStorageNodesPerZone is not specified for the existing cluster.

  2. If the user account has permissions to access Auto Scaling Groups (ASG) information, Portworx honors the ASG settings. If the minimum value in ASG is lower than maxStorageNodesPerZone(even when maxStorageNodesPerZone is set to 0), Portworx creates storage nodes equal to the ASG's minimum value. 2

  3. If the number of nodes is unevenly distributed, the zone with the smallest number of nodes is chosen. For example, if there are 10 nodes across 3 zones, the value 3 is selected. 2

  4. For the total number of nodes, Kubernetes master and control plane nodes are excluded if they are part of the cluster.

  5. For Portworx versions 2.12.0 or earlier, the supported label is

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