API to Get driver_info Properties


This blueprint proposes an API that returns all the driver_info properties, along with a description for each property.

Problem description

It is possible to create a node without specifying any driver_info properties in the initial POST – this is reasonable and fine. However, the API does not expose the list of driver_info properties, nor which are required for the node’s driver. The client cannot know what fields/properties to send in subsequent PATCH requests without reading Ironic’s developer docs (or source code!).

To address the above, an API is proposed, that returns the driver_info properties, along with a description for each property. The description will include whether the property is required or not.

Being an API, it may be consumed by humans and applications.

Proposed change

RESTful web API

The RESTful web API will be enhanced with:

GET /v1/drivers/<driver>/properties

where <driver> is the name of the driver.

If unsuccessful, eg an invalid driver name was specified, it returns HTTP status 404 and an error message.

If successful, it returns HTTP status 200 and the response (in Json format) is a list of

<property name>: <property description>

where <property description> is a description of the property, including whether it is required or optional or any other special circumstances.

Eg: GET /v1/drivers/pxe_ssh/properties might return:

{"pxe_deploy_ramdisk": "UUID... Required.",
 "ssh_address": "IP address or hostname of the node to ssh into. Required.",
 "ssh_virt_type": "virtualization software... Required.",
 "ssh_user_name": "username to authenticate as. Required.",
 "ssh_key_contents": "private key(s). One of this, ssh_key_filename,
      or ssh_password must be specified."
 "ssh_key_filename": "filename ... One of this, ssh_key_contents,
      or ssh_password must be specified."
 "ssh_password": "password... One of this, ssh_key_contents, or
      ssh_key_filename must be specified."
 "pxe_deploy_kernel": "UUID... Required."}

CLI subcommand

The driver-properties subcommand will be added:

ironic driver-properties <driver_name>

It returns a table with the driver_info properties of the specified driver. For each property, this information is displayed:

  • name of the driver_info property
  • description


$ ironic driver-properties fake_ipminative
| Property      | Description                     |
| ipmi_address  | IP of the node's BMC. Required. |
| ipmi_password | IPMI password. Required.        |
| ipmi_username | IPMI username. Required.        |

For invalid driver names, it returns:

The driver '<invalid-driver-name>' is unknown. (HTTP 404)

Required vs optional properties

The driver properties are specific to each driver, and depend on the interfaces (power, deploy, console, rescue, management) of a driver. It is at the interface implementation where we identify which properties are required and which are optional. Having said that, it isn’t all black and white. For example, a driver with the SHPower power interface requires one of ssh_key_contents, ssh_key_filename, or ssh_password properties to be specified. Handling this “exactly one of these must be specified” case might be reasonable, but what happens if there is a desire for “one or more of these must be specified”, “exactly X of these must be specified”, “B must be specified if A is specified”, or “if A is specified, B or C must be specified”?

After discussing this, we decided to take the approach of indicating, as part of the description, whether a property is required or not along with any constraints on that. No explicit ‘required’ field will be returned.

How the API service gets the information

A conductor service can handle one or more different drivers. There could be different versions of conductor services running, different versions of the API service running, and different versions of drivers available via the different conductor services. Ironic currently has a mechanism for versioning the conductor service and api service (via the RPC_API_VERSION). However, there is no mechanism yet for versioning of drivers.

When/if Ironic has a mechanism for versioning the drivers, the API (and code) can be updated to use the driver version to get the driver properties specific to that version.

Driver upgrades (resulting in one or more conductor services being restarted) need to be considered, since driver upgrades could include changes to their properties. There will be upgrade windows, during which different conductor services may be handling different drivers due to an upgrade. This specification assumes that the upgrade window is small, and that after an upgrade, all conductor services will be handling the same driver versions. (The right solution is to have explicit driver versioning; an intermediate solution might be to allow the user to explicitly specify a conductor service when querying for driver information, but that doesn’t seem to be the right approach to take.)

After the conductor services are upgraded, all the API services should be restarted. So during the upgrade window, the API services may return incorrect/different driver property information, but after the upgrade is done, the information should be correct again.

Although an API service could access/instantiate the drivers directly, that would only give the service access to local drivers. These drivers may not be the actual drivers that the conductor services use. Furthermore, since the drivers talk to hardware, the API service shouldn’t be allowed to access them directly.

The conductor service, then, is the gateway to getting driver properties. Two approaches were considered:

  1. the API service queries, via RPC, a conductor service, to get the driver properties. It picks the first conductor service (any one will do if we assume that all the conductors are handling the same version of the driver). This is the approach we will take.
  2. the API service queries the DB to get driver properties that the conductor services have placed there. When a conductor service starts, it adds the property information for each of the drivers it can handle, to a DB table. Since more than one conductor could be handling the same driver, the driver information would be added to a new DB table, different from the “conductor” table.

For both of these approaches, making an RPC or DB call for each user request may become a performance issue; especially if the user requests are generated by some automated system. Since the information is static for the lifetime of the conductor services (or longer), it makes sense for the API services to cache the information locally.

If an upgrade (where a conductor driver is updated) occurs, all the API services must be restarted after the conductor service upgrades are completed. This will clear out the caches, to make sure that the API services get the most recent drivers’ information.

A cache-refresh mechanism could be added, but the information is relatively static and only changes when a driver changes. Driver changes should be infrequent enough that having the API services restarted after conductor services are upgraded should suffice.

Since there doesn’t seem to be much gain with storing the driver information in the database since caching will be done, having the API service query a conductor service for the driver information (approach #1) will be implemented.


The driver_info information could be made available in a non-API fashion:

  • document the information.
    • pros: no code changes at all, no need to write this specification
    • cons: user needs to know where to find the documentation; documentation needs to be kept up-to-date; more difficult to write automation tools to extract this information
  • read the code.
    • pros: no additional code changes required; no need to write this spec; will always be the source of truth
    • cons: very user-unfriendly; user needs to know python and know where to find the appropriate code.

Given that we think having an API is a GOOD THING, these approaches were ruled out.

This doesn’t describe alternative RESTful web API, CLI commands or response outputs, because the proposed API is consistent with the existing API, but clearly there are alternatives.

Data model impact

This will add an internal cache to each API service. The database is not affected.

REST API impact

See RESTful web API section above for a description of the new request.

Driver API impact

All the driver interfaces (DeployInterface, PowerInterface, ConsoleInterface, RescueInterface, VendorInterface, ManagementInterface) will/must have a new method:

def get_properties(self):
    """Return the properties of the interface.

    :returns: a dictionary with <property name>:<property description>

Nova driver impact


Security impact


Other end user impact

See CLI subcommand section above for the CLI subcommand.

Scalability impact


Performance Impact


Other deployer impact

Requirement that all the API services must be restarted after an upgrade of the conductor services.

Developer impact

None except for doing reviews. Well, making sure the list of properties is updated in the code.



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:

Work Items






Since the information is static, Ironic unit tests are sufficient.

Tempest testing should be added if the QA team feels it is in the best interest of Tempest to check the output of common drivers.

Documentation Impact

The CLI subcommand will need to be documented, but the docs team have a script that generates the documentation via issuing ironic commands.

One or more guides (operators and/or deployment) will need to mention that all the API services need to be restarted after an upgrade of all conductor services.


discussion about how to handle required vs optional properties. Starting from 2014-07-08T14:18:06: http://eavesdrop.openstack.org/irclogs/%23openstack-ironic/%23openstack-ironic.2014-07-08.log