Remove support for API extensions

Remove support for API extensions

In the before times, and the long long ago, OpenStack started as 2 services: Swift and Nova. The original architecture and plan was that Nova was the monolithic cloud resource manager. All work in managing resources in the cloud would be done with Nova and the Nova API. To support experimenting with and expanding this scope the Nova API was written with an externalized extensions facility that allowed anyone to add new resources, or even modify existing resources (like servers / flavors).

But things changed. The scope of cloud resource management very clearly could not be contained in a single project. OpenStack began splitting up into a set of microservices that communicate with each other over documented REST API calls. Nova and other services started exposing administrative features over the API (not just via direct db manipulation commands). Adding new features could now largely be done by adding a new service instead of sideloading that code into Nova itself. With the creation of the Big Tent, these additional services can now very easily have a home to collaborate and thrive.

With thousands of OpenStack clouds in the wild, interoperability is a key important value for OpenStack’s long term success. It is what enables an Application Ecosystem consuming standard OpenStack APIs to thrive, which further expands the OpenStack ecosystem.

The Nova team has been on a multi year quest to remove the extension facility in the API to support this goal of interoperability, and to massively simplify the Nova code base so that it is easier to add new features over time. This spec is intended as a historical and architectural document to be really explicit about what this means.

Problem description

The Nova API extensions framework encourages all the wrong behavior in deploying Nova. It brings a ton of really complicated code debt, that few people understand, and requires that Nova not use any of the standard wsgi frameworks. It encourages people to add new resources to Nova, out of tree, instead of collaborating around common constructs in Nova, or a common separate service. It discourages people from being involved in the upstream conversations around API changes, because they have the option to just turn things off later. Even worse, it makes it easy to change core objects like servers or flavors, and change their behavior and representation.

In the pre-microversion days the extensions facility was used as a really terrible versioning mechanism in tree, which led to a model of extensions on extensions on extensions to attempt to make the API discoverable in some way. We changed tact 4 cycles ago and built an explicit versioning mechanism instead.

Use Cases

As a consumer of multiple OpenStack clouds I would like to have software that works the same between them and not have to anticipate changes in the API brought by API extensions.

As a developer of OpenStack, I would like the API code to be understandable so that it is easy to ensure future changes don’t break existing users.

As a creator of OpenStack Applications, I would like convergence in the APIs of OpenStack to make it possible for my OpenStack Application to be used broadly in public and private clouds.

Proposed change

The Nova API extension facility is completely removed by the end of Ocata.

In Liberty we deprecated the concept of API extensions and removed it from the documentation - In Liberty we also deprecated the use of the v2 legacy code stack (which most extensions were written against). This was an attempt to prevent the use of extensions by new member of the OpenStack Ecosystem.

In Mitaka we deprecated the configuration options in the v2.1 API that allowed configuration based control of which extensions are loaded. This was an additional signal of this direction.

In Newton we have deleted the v2 legacy code stack which resulted in a net drop of 15KLOC of quite obtuse code. We have deleted the configuration options that allow config based modification of the extension loading, which greatly simplified all the API documentation, and has enabled the ability to start folding back in extensions that require hundreds of lines of code to add a single attribute. This, however, has still left the stevedore configuration available to side load code (even though this is not supported).

In Newton we will eliminate the ability to stevedore load extensions that modify existing resources (servers / flavors), and start re-folding these extensions into the core servers / flavors code. This will greatly simplify the API code stack and testing, and make future additions much easier. We will remove the pre / post resource modification facilities.

This will include effectively ignoring the content of “nova.api.v21.extensions.server.*” extensions, and removal of the @wsgi.extends facility used by extensions to modify the requests / responses of other parts of the API.

In Ocata we will eliminate the use of the “nova.api.v21.extensions” stevedore hook. This is postponed to Ocata mostly because the removal of the extends facility is a higher priority, and based on the work ahead of us, it’s not realistic that we’d get this far in Newton.


We could keep the status quo. However, this has been long term direction for standardization of Nova.

Alternatives for extension owners

We know that even though we’ve been beating the drum for a long time about getting rid of the extensions facility, there are still folks out there that have legacy extensions, or who haven’t moved to a new model. The following are the suggested paths forward.

Upstream your needs

Come with your needs to the upstream community. We have a pretty well established facility for adding features to the API now, and have been landing about 10 microversions per release since it’s inception. If your change to the resource model is really something that fundamentally needs to be exposed on servers or flavors, that should be an upstream conversation. That also means it will be maintained by the larger community going forward (and will be made to work with new infrastructure like Cells v2).

Build a new service

If you were just using the extension facility to add brand new resources to Nova, that can just as easily be done in a new service with a new endpoint. If these are resources that reference servers, the validity of those servers can be checked using a Nova API call much in the same way that Neutron / Nova / Cinder cross-communicate.

If there are additional elements of the Nova data model which need to be exposed via the API, or via notifications, please bring these forward to the upstream community.

But my extension is very specific to my environment

Please bring forward the conversation to the wider community anyway. There are a lot of OpenStack deploys, and issues that you think are specific to your environment may not be. And in conversation with the upstream operator and developer communities we could probably come up with a generic facility that supports your use. Even if that is simply adding additional URL sized fields that allows references to additional services.

Data model impact

None. This is solely about the presentation layer in the API stack.

REST API impact

The REST API itself will not be changed, however the plumbing for the REST API will be massively simplified.

Security impact

The only security impact is around the use of policy. Previously there was a policy point made for every extension, even if that extension merely added a single display attribute to the servers structure. These policy rules will largely be removed, and each removal will include a release note. Judgment will be used when we appear to be exposing a sensitive element, and in those cases we’ll leave some policy control over it.

Notifications impact


Other end user impact

A more robust contract of what the Nova API means, and what they can expect when using it.

Performance Impact

This simplication of resource processing may lead to better performance of the API. However performance is not a leading driver here.

Other deployer impact

The deployer impact is pretty well laid out above.

Developer impact

This should dramatically lower the barrier of entry to understanding and contributing to the API layer in Nova.



The Nova API subteam

Work Items


  • Fold in-tree server extensions back into the main flow (the hard part is getting unit tests to pass)

  • Remove wsgi.extends support on servers resources

  • Remove loading of nova.api.v21.extensions.server.* content

  • Fold in-tree flavor extensions back into the main flow

  • Remove wsgi.extends support on flavors

  • Remove pre_process / post_process resource logic from wsgi stack


  • Remove loading of nova.api.v21.extensions (these allow the creation of new resources even if they can’t modify existing resources).




Both Tempest and functional testing shouldn’t need any further changes. They provide confidence that we have not regressed our API.

Unit testing will be adjusted as in many case that used limited extension lists to simplify responses for testing.

Documentation Impact

The documentation mostly already reflects this reality. We no longer talk about the extensions facility in Nova publicly.




Release Name




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