Undercloud Upgrade


Our currently documented upgrade path for the undercloud is very problematic. In fact, it doesn’t work. A number of different patches are attempting to address this problem (see the References section), but they all take slightly different approaches that are not necessarily compatible with each other.

Problem Description

The undercloud upgrade must be carefully orchestrated. A few of the problems that can be encountered during an undercloud upgrade if things are not done or not done in the proper order:

  1. Services may fail and get stuck in a restart loop
  2. Service databases may not be properly upgraded
  3. Services may fail to stop and prevent the upgraded version from starting

Currently there is not agreement over who should be responsible for running the various steps of the undercloud upgrade. Getting everyone on the same page regarding this is the ultimate goal of this spec.

Also of note is the MariaDB major version update flow from Upgrade documentation (under and overcloud). This will need to be addressed as part of whatever upgrade solution we decide to pursue.

Proposed Change

I’m going to present my proposed solution here, but will try to give a fair overview of the other proposals in the Alternatives section. Others should feel free to push modifications or follow-ups if I miss anything important, however.


Services must be stopped before their respective package update is run. This is because the RPM specs for the services include a mandatory restart to ensure that the new code is running after the package is updated. On a major version upgrade, this can and does result in broken services because the config files are not always forward compatible, so until Puppet is run again to configure them appropriately the service cannot start. The broken services can cause other problems as well, such as the yum update taking an excessively long time because it times out waiting for the service to restart. It’s worth noting that this problem does not exist on an HA overcloud because Pacemaker stubs out the service restarts in the systemd services so the package update restart becomes a noop.

Because the undercloud is not required to have extremely high uptime, I am in favor of just stopping all of the services, updating all the packages, then re-running the undercloud install to apply the new configs and start the services again. This ensures that the services are not restarted by the package update - which only happens if the service was running at the time of the update - and that there is no chance of an old version of a service being left running and interfering with the new version, as can happen when moving a service from a standalone API process to httpd.

instack-undercloud will be responsible for implementing the process described above. However, to avoid complications with instack-undercloud trying to update itself, tripleoclient will be responsible for updating instack-undercloud and its dependencies first. This two-step approach should allow us to sanely use an older tripleoclient to run the upgrade because the code in the client will be minimal and should not change from release to release. Upgrade-related backports to stable clients should not be needed in any foreseeable case. Any potential version-specific logic can live in instack-undercloud. The one exception being that we may need to initially backport this new process to the previous stable branch so we can start using it without waiting an entire cycle. Since the current upgrade process does not work correctly there, I think this would be a valid bug fix backport.

A potential drawback of this approach is that it will not automatically trigger the Puppet service db-syncs because Puppet is not aware that the version has changed if we update the packages separately. However, I feel this is a case we need to handle sanely anyway in case a package is updated outside Puppet either intentionally or accidentally. To that end, we’ve already merged a patch to always run db-syncs on the undercloud since they’re idempotent anyway. See Stop all services before upgrading for a link to the patch.


Regarding the MariaDB issue mentioned above, I believe that regardless of the approach we take, we should automate the dump and restore of the database as much as possible. Either solution should be able to look at the version of mariadb before yum update and the version after, and decide whether the db needs to be dumped. If a user updates the package manually outside the undercloud upgrade flow then they will be responsible for the db upgrade themselves. I think this is the best we can do, short of writing some sort of heuristic that can figure out whether the existing db files are for an older version of MariaDB and doing the dump/restore based on that.

Updates vs. Upgrades

I am also proposing that we not differentiate between minor updates and major upgrades on the undercloud. Because we don’t need to be as concerned with uptime there, any additional time required to treat all upgrades as a potential major version upgrade should be negligible, and it avoids us having to maintain and test multiple paths.

Additionally, the difference between a major and minor upgrade becomes very fuzzy for anyone upgrading between versions of master. There may be db or rpc changes that require the major upgrade flow anyway. Also, the whole argument assumes we can even come up with a sane, yet less-invasive update strategy for the undercloud anyway, and I think our time is better spent elsewhere.


As shown in Don’t update whole system on undercloud upgrade, another option is to limit the manual yum update to just instack-undercloud and make Puppet responsible for updating everything else. This would allow Puppet to handle all of the upgrade logic internally. As of this writing, there is at least one significant problem with the patch as proposed because it does not update the Puppet modules installed on the undercloud, which leaves us in a chicken and egg situation with a newer instack-undercloud calling older Puppet modules to run the update. I believe this could be solved by also updating the Puppet modules along with instack-undercloud.

Drawbacks of this approach would be that each service needs to be orchestrated correctly in Puppet (this could also be a feature, from a Puppet CI perspective), and it does not automatically handle things like services moving from standalone to httpd. This could be mitigated by the undercloud upgrade CI job catching most such problems before they merge.

I still personally feel this is more complicated than the proposal above, but I believe it could work, and as noted could have benefits for CI’ing upgrades in Puppet modules.

There is one other concern with this that is less a functional issue, which is that it significantly alters our previous upgrade methods, and might be problematic to backport as older versions of instack-undercloud were assuming an external package update. It’s probably not an insurmountable obstacle, but I do feel it’s worth noting. Either approach is going to require some amount of backporting, but this may require backporting in non-tripleo Puppet modules which may be more difficult to do.

Security Impact

No significant security impact one way or another.

Other End User Impact

This will likely have an impact on how a user runs undercloud upgrades, especially compared to our existing documented upgrade method. Ideally all of the implementation will happen behind the openstack undercloud upgrade command regardless of which approach is taken, but even that is a change from before.

Performance Impact

The method I am suggesting can do an undercloud upgrade in 20-25 minutes end-to-end in a scripted CI job.

The performance impact of the Puppet approach is unknown to me.

The performance of the existing method where service packages are updated with the service still running is terrible - upwards of two hours for a full upgrade in some cases, assuming the upgrade completes at all. This is largely due to the aforementioned problem with services restarting before their config files have been updated.

Other Deployer Impact

Same as the end user impact. In this case I believe they’re the same person.

Developer Impact

Discussed somewhat in the proposals, but I believe my approach is a little simpler from the developer perspective. They don’t have to worry about the orchestration of the upgrade, they only have to provide a valid configuration for a given version of OpenStack. The one drawback is that if we add any new services on the undercloud, their db-sync must be wired into the “always run db-syncs” list.



Primary assignees:

  • bnemec
  • EmilienM

Other contributors (I’m essentially listing everyone who has been involved in upgrade work so far):

  • lbezdick
  • bandini
  • marios
  • jistr

Work Items

  • Implement an undercloud upgrade CI job to test upgrades.
  • Implement the selected approach in the undercloud upgrade command.




A CI job is already underway. See Undercloud Upgrade CI Job. This should provide reasonable coverage on a per-patch basis. We may also want to test undercloud upgrades in periodic jobs to ensure that it is possible to deploy an overcloud with an upgraded undercloud. This probably takes too long to be done in the regular CI jobs, however.

There has also been discussion of running Tempest API tests on the upgraded undercloud, but I’m unsure of the status of that work. It would be good to have in the standalone undercloud upgrade job though.

Documentation Impact

The docs will need to be updated to reflect the new upgrade method. Hopefully this will be as simple as “Run openstack undercloud upgrade”, but that remains to be seen.


Don’t update whole system on undercloud upgrade


Upgrade documentation (under and overcloud)


Undercloud Upgrade CI Job