Reference IPAM driver

This specification proposes moving Neutron’s IPAM code, currently baked in the database logic, into an appropriate driver which will be called by Neutron through the interface being defined in [1].

Decoupling IPAM logic from the Neutron management layer has been on the list of “debt repayment” tasks for a long time. It is also a necessary step towards the implementation of a pluggable IPAM framework, which has been sanctioned as one of the priorities for the Kilo release cycle [2]

The following specification provides both a long-term picture for the evolution of the proposed reference IPAM driver and a short-term detailed description of the changes proposed as part of this blueprint. The discussion on the long-term evolution is in the section titled “The Big Picture”; readers concerned exclusively with changes that will be performed as a part of this specification can safely skip this section.

Problem Description

Neutron’s IPAM logic is baked into the “base” DB class [3]. This has serious manageability shortcomings, and is also incompatible with the activity promoted by [1]. The latter point makes it pretty much compulsory to transform this IPAM logic into a driver which gets called through the IPAM interface.

Also, this IPAM logic is currently the first source of “lock wait timeout” issues in neutron DB because of deeply nested (and long) transactions.

Proposed Change

This specification is complementary to other specifications proposed for the Kilo release cycle [1], [4]. Thanks to these effort, IPAM will become “pluggable”, meaning that deployers will be able to pick the solution that best suits them to perform IP address management. On the other hand, the current logic, used in many production deployments, will become an IPAM driver as well. More precisely this would be the IPAM driver that would be used in upstream gate tests. For this reason we will refer to this IPAM driver as the “reference” driver, without hopefully abusing this term.

At the end of the Kilo release cycle Neutron will have a driver which does IP address management exactly in the same way as Neutron does today. As a part of this blueprint we will also try and fix some of its well known shortcomings, leveraging community contributions already available for review where possible.

The reference driver will be implemented by:

  • Defining a simple data model extrapolating it from the current “baked-in” IPAM data model.
  • Moving out IPAM routines from the “base” DB class [3] into the newly created IPAM driver
  • Hooking the IPAM driver into the newly developed IPAM interface [1].

Driver data model

The data model for the reference IPAM driver will be based on the same principles as the current IPAM logic, namely:

  • Availability ranges created starting from subnets’ allocation pools.
  • Allocation of IP addresses performed from availability ranges.
  • Recalculation of availability ranges only when strictly necessary.
  • Allocation outside of allocation pools will be allowed.

However, the reference IPAM driver will not include, at least in its first iteration, support for subnet pools [8]. This driver assumes that every tenant has a single subnet pool whose address range is the entire IP address space. Overlapping allocations from this “default” pool are also allowed to ensure a backward compatible behavior.

Details about schema changes are discussed in the appropriate section.

Code refactoring

Code refactoring activities are mostly about moving code which is now part of neutron.db.db_base_plugin_v2.NeutronDbPluginV2.

More specifically the following methods will become part of the IPAM driver:
  • _allocate_ips_for_port
  • _update_ips_for_port For the two methods above there will be a slighty different semantic and signature to reflect the operations exposed by the new IPAM interface.
  • _test_fixed_ips_for_port
  • _check_unique_ip
  • _allocate_fixed_ips
  • _allocate_specific_ip
  • _generate_ip
  • _try_generate_ip The locking query logic used in the above two methods will be replaced with a lock free algorithm.
  • _store_ip_allocation For this method, some logic will stay in neutron’s DB base class, as it will be used to provide IP address information for ports to API consumers.
  • _allocate_pools_for_subnet
  • _rebuild_availability_ranges
  • _check_ip_in_allocation_pool
  • _delete_ip_allocation

Plugging into IPAM interface

The reference driver proposed in this document will implement the inferface defined in [1].

The get_subnet operation will be a no-op in the proposed driver.

  • allocate_subnet will setup the availability ranges; allocation pools should be stored in the base DB class as they are also retrieved via the API.
  • remove_subnet will ensure no allocation is still active for the subnet and clear the availability ranges
  • allocate will implement a logic similar to allocate_ips_for_port, with the only exception that it will be called not for a port but for every IP to configure on a port. Recalculation of availability ranges will still occur here.
  • deallocate will simply keep removing IP allocation info. It is likely to be a no-op for this first implementation of the reference driver.

The Big Picture

This specification so far discussed how the driver will look in Kilo. From an architectural perspective it will simply be a class which is loaded at startup, and where IPAM calls are dispatched.

This still does not address two important aspects of IPAM in Neutron:

  • independence from the core plugin
  • coordination among multiple servers (or even workers)

In Kilo indeed the calls to the IPAM interface will still be in the base DB class, which is also the base class for the great majority of Neutron plugins. This means that the reference IPAM driver will actually be called by the plugin, and not by the neutron management layer. This applies to any other IPAM driver as well. This is an architectural flow, even if not a major one, as it means that:

  • The ability of running a specific IPAM driver depends on the core_plugin currently configured.
  • IPAM interface hooks might need to be explicitly added to plugin modules. Indeed with the current codebase, we’ll need to insert calls to the IPAM interface at least in the base DB class and in the ML2 plugin class [5].
  • As a plugin will still be free to choose how to use the IPAM interface, the interactions defined in [1] are therefore plugin-specific. This could lead to unexpected behaviors when running specific combinations of plugins and IPAM driver. For instance, a plugin might redefine core methods such as create_port, and bypass calls to the IPAM driver. As another example, a plugin might decide to override a method implementation by calling the IPAM driver from within a DB transaction, thus creating the conditions for eventlet yields leading to deadlocks in the database.

Therefore IPAM driver calls should be performed by the management layer, and the result of IPAM operation should then be sent to the plugin layer. This however will require extensive changes in the plugin interface, and is out of scope for this release cycle. Ideally this would fit very well in a world where a “v3” plugin interface is defined which allows to have distinct interfaces for operating on different resource.

When multiple servers or workers (or both) are deployed there will also be several instances of the reference IPAM driver. With the current implementation this leads to well known race conditions such as [7]. The first iteration of the IPAM reference driver will likely suffer of the same issues. In subsequent iteration the community might evaluate scalable and reliable solution which might include either distributed coordination among driver instances or a “conductor-style” implementation where drivers forward operations to a centralized IPAM service.

Data Model Impact

Ideally there should not be any change in the schema. However, the IPAM driver will be in charge of managing the IPAvailabilityRanges table.

For IPAllocation and IPAllocationPools, ideally these tables should be split, since they both have a role in the REST layer and in the IPAM system.

While splitting this tables provides the best possible separation of concerns between the plugin and the IPAM driver, it has also some drawbacks. The most notable ones are duplication of information (eg: an IP address will be both on the plugin and on the IPAM side), and an increased number of DB operations for allocating addresses.

For this reason we will assume, at least for this first implementation, that te Neutron DB layer and the IPAM driver can share database tables. In this conditions no database schema changes will be needed.


The proposed change won’t alter a bit the syntax and semantics of the Neutron API. Any API change behavior resulting from this implementation will be an unintentional side effect and should therefore be treated as a high priority bug.

Security Impact

We do not expect the reference IPAM driver to be less secure than the current logic, since most of code will remain unchanged in the driver.

Notifications Impact


Other End User Impact


Performance Impact

The reference driver will contain logic for preventing lock timeout and reducing the scope of locking queries. This might result in a performance improvement under heavy load, but we expect this improvement to not be relevant. The changes in logic from the ‘baked IPAM’ are aimed mostly towards reliability.

IPv6 Impact

No change expected in IPv6-related IPAM features such as SLAAC. Any change deriving from the implementation of this spec is an unintentional side effect and should be treated as a high priority bug.

Other Deployer Impact

The reference driver will be the default value for the IPAM driver. In order to avoid potential mayhem is a deployer is running multiple servers, the same IPAM driver should be used on every server.

Developer Impact


Community Impact

This will be good for the community as it will provide a single place in the neutron code tree where IPAM SMEs can contribute.

Note: so far this work is targeting the neutron code tree, but in the future the IPAM reference driver might be moved outside in line with what’s being proposed for the plugin/driver split blueprint [6]


Under the hypothesis that there will be a pluggable IPAM interface there is really no alternative. Unless wrapping every IPAM interface call with a logic like the following might be considered an alternative:

if cfg.CONF.use_pluggable_ipam:
self.ipam_driver.do_this(subnet_id, ...)
<previous logic in db base class>

The author of this documentation has high hopes that nobody will consider the snippet above a viable alternative. Even if it can be a short-time measure to allow for independently develop the pluggable interface, it’s something that should be avoided if possible.


The minimum goal for Kilo is to have a driver which manages IPs in the same way as the “baked” logic does today.


Primary assignee:

Work Items

  • Implement the driver
  • Write unit tests and functional tests for it
  • Combine with pluggable interface, face the gate
  • According to the strategy chosen in syncing up with effort [1], theree might be vestigial code to remove


  • Pluggable IPAM interface [1]
  • Introduction of Subnet Pool concept. This is part of [4]


Testing is going to be tricky because the driver can’t be fully tested until the pluggable interface is in place. On the other hand for introducing the pluggable interface one needs a driver in place. In order to break this deadlock one possibility is to introduce the driver, but limit only to unit and functional testing until the IPAM interface is in place.

The following sections will define strategies for both the cases in which the driver is merged with the pluggable IPAM interface in place and the case in which the driver is merged without it.

Tempest Tests

Currently defined scenario tests provide enough coverage for the reference driver, since it’s going to be functionally equivalent to what the current “baked in” code does today.

Obviously coverage by tempest scenario tests will be possible only when the pluggable IPAM interface will be in place and dispatching calls to the reference IPAM driver.

Functional Tests

Functional testing in the classical neutron sense won’t be possible until the pluggable IPAM interface merges. However, functional tests intended as exercising the driver trough its interface should always be possible.

On the other hand, if the IPAM pluggable interface is already in place, this will allow us to perform functional testing by exercising the neutron API thus leveraging the current framework.

API Tests

As there will be no API change, no changes to API tests will be needed.

Documentation Impact

User Documentation

No change.

Developer Documentation

The reference IPAM driver should come with appropriate developer documentation