TripleO Routed Networks Deployment (Spine-and-Leaf Clos)

This blueprint is part of a the series tripleo-routed-networks-deployment [0].

TripleO uses shared L2 networks for all networks except the provisioning network today. (Support for L3 provisioning network where added in Queens.)

L3 support on the provisioning network is using network segments, a concept in Neutron routed networks, we can represent more than one subnet per VLAN. Without network segments, we would be limited to one subnet per VLAN.

For the non-provisioning networks we have no way to model a true L3 routed network in TripleO today. When deploying such an architecture we currently create custom (neutron) networks for all the different l2 segments for each isolated network. While this approach works it comes with some caveats.

This spec covers refactoring the TripleO Heat Templates to support deployment onto networks which are segregated into multiple layer 2 domains with routers forwarding traffic between layer 2 domains.

Problem Description

The master blueprint for routed networks for deployments breaks the problem set into multiple parts [0]. This blueprint presents the problems which are applicable to this blueprint below.

Problem Descriptions

Problem #1: Deploy systems onto a routed provisioning network.

While we can model a routed provisioning network and deploy systems on top of that network today. Doing so requires additional complex configuration, such as:

  • Setting up the required static routes to ensure traffic within the L3 control plane takes the desired path troughout the network.
  • L2 segments use different router addresses.
  • L2 segments may use different subnet masks.
  • Other L2 segment property differences.

This configuration is essentially manually passing in information in the templates to deploy the overcloud. Information that was already provided when deploying the undercloud. While this works, it increases complexity and the possibility that the user provides incorrect configuration data.

We should be able to get as much of this information based on what was provided when deploying the undercloud.

In order to support this model, there are some requirements that have to be met in Heat and Neutron.

Alternative approaches to Problem #1:

Approach 1:


This is what we currently do.

Since we control addresses and routes on the host nodes using a combination of Heat templates and os-net-config, it may be possible to use static routes to supernets to provide L2 adjacency, rather than relying on Neutron to generate dynamic lists of routes that would need to be updated on all hosts.

The end result of this is that each host has a set of IP addresses and routes that isolate traffic by function. In order for the return traffic to also be isolated by function, similar routes must exist on both hosts, pointing to the local gateway on the local subnet for the larger supernet that contains all Internal API subnets.

The downside of this is that we must require proper supernetting, and this may lead to larger blocks of IP addresses being used to provide ample space for scaling growth. For instance, in the example above an entire /16 network is set aside for up to 255 local subnets for the Internal API network. This could be changed into a more reasonable space, such as /18, if the number of local subnets will not exceed 64, etc. This will be less of an issue with native IPv6 than with IPv4, where scarcity is much more likely.

Approch 2:

Instead of passing parameters such as ControlPlaneCidr, ControlPlaneDefaultRoute etc implement Neutron RFE [5] and Heat RFE [6]. In tripleo-heat-templates we can then use get_attr to get the data. And we leave it to neutron to calculate and provide the routes for the L3 network.

This would require [3], which I believe was in quite good shape before it was abandoned due to activity policy. (An alternative would be to change os-net-config to have an option to only change and apply routing configuration. Something like running ifdown-routes / ifup-routes , however [3] is likely the better solution.)

Problem #2: Static IP assignment: Choosing static IPs from the correct subnet

Some roles, such as Compute, can likely be placed in any subnet, but we will need to keep certain roles co-located within the same set of L2 domains. For instance, whatever role is providing Neutron services will need all controllers in the same L2 domain for VRRP to work properly.

The network interfaces will be configured using templates that create configuration files for os-net-config. The IP addresses that are written to each node’s configuration will need to be on the correct subnet for each host. In order for Heat to assign ports from the correct subnets, we will need to have a host-to-subnets mapping.

Possible Solutions, Ideas or Approaches:


We currently use #2, by specifying parameters for each role.

  1. The simplest implementation of this would probably be a mapping of role/index to a set of subnets, so that it is known to Heat that Controller-1 is in subnet set X and Compute-3 is in subnet set Y. The node would then have the ip and subnet info for each network chosen from the appropriate set of subnets. For other nodes, we would need to programatically determine which subnets are correct for a given node.
  2. We could associate particular subnets with roles, and then use one role per L2 domain (such as per-rack). This might be achieved with a map of roles to subnets, or by specifying parameters for each role such as: supernet, subnet (ID and/or ip/netmask), and subnet router.
  3. Initial implementation might follow the model for isolated networking demonstrated by the environments/ips-from-pool-all.yaml. Developing the ips-from-pool model first will allow testing various components with spine-and-leaf while the templates that use dynamic assignment of IPs within specified subnets are developed.
  4. The roles and templates should be refactored to allow for dynamic IP assignment within subnets associated with the role. We may wish to evaluate the possibility of storing the routed subnets in Neutron using the routed networks extensions that are still under development. However, in this case, This is probably not required to implement separate subnets in each rack.
  5. A scalable long-term solution is to map which subnet the host is on during introspection. If we can identify the correct subnet for each interface, then we can correlate that with IP addresses from the correct allocation pool. This would have the advantage of not requiring a static mapping of role to node to subnet. In order to do this, additional integration would be required between Ironic and Neutron (to make Ironic aware of multiple subnets per network, and to add the ability to make that association during introspection.

We will also need to take into account sitations where there are heterogeneous hardware nodes in the same layer 2 broadcast domain (such as within a rack).


This can be done either using node groups in NetConfigDataLookup as implemented in review [4] or by using additional custom roles.

Problem #3: Isolated Networking Requires Static Routes to Ensure Correct VLAN is Used

In order to continue using the Isolated Networks model, routes will need to be in place on each node, to steer traffic to the correct VLAN interfaces. The routes are written when os-net-config first runs, but may change. We can’t just rely on the specific routes to other subnets, since the number of subnets will increase or decrease as racks are added or taken away.

Possible Solutions, Ideas or Approaches:

  1. Require that supernets are used for various network groups. For instance, all the Internal API subnets would be part of a supernet, for instance could be used, and broken up into many smaller subnets, such as /24. This would simplify the routes, since only a single route for would be required pointing to the local router on the 172.17.x.0/24 network.

    Example: Suppose 2 subnets are provided for the Internal API network: and We want all Internal API traffic to traverse the Internal API VLANs on both the controller and a remote compute node. The Internal API network uses different VLANs for the two nodes, so we need the routes on the hosts to point toward the Internal API gateway instead of the default gateway. This can be provided by a supernet route to 172.19.x.x pointing to the local gateway on each subnet (e.g. and on the respective subnets). This could be represented in an os-net-config with the following:

      type: interface
      name: nic3
          ip_netmask: {get_param: InternalApiXIpSubnet}
          ip_netmask: {get_param: InternalApiSupernet}
          next_hop: {get_param: InternalApiXDefaultRoute}

    Where InternalApiIpSubnet is the IP address on the local subnet, InternalApiSupernet is ‘’, and InternalApiRouter is either or depending on which local subnet the host belongs to.

  2. Modify os-net-config so that routes can be updated without bouncing interfaces, and then run os-net-config on all nodes when scaling occurs. A review for this functionality is in progress [3].

  3. Instead of passing parameters to THT about routes (or supernet routes), implement Neutron RFE [5] and Heat RFE [6]. In tripleo-heat-templates we can then use get_attr to get the data we currently read from user provided parameters such as the InternalApiSupernet and InternalApiXDefaultRoute in the example above. (We might also consider replacing [6] with a change extending the network/ports/port.j2 in tripleo-heat-templates to output this data.)

os-net-config configures static routes for each interface. If we can keep the routing simple (one route per functional network), then we would be able to isolate traffic onto functional VLANs like we do today.

It would be a change to the existing workflow to have os-net-config run on updates as well as deployment, but if this were a non-impacting event (the interfaces didn’t have to be bounced), that would probably be OK. (An alternative is to add an option to have an option in os-net-config that only adds new routes. Something like, os-net-config –no-activate + ifdown-routes/ifup-routes.)

At a later time, the possibility of using dynamic routing should be considered, since it reduces the possibility of user error and is better suited to centralized management. The overcloud nodes might participate in internal routing protocols. SDN solutions are another way to provide this, or other approaches may be considered, such as setting up OVS tunnels.

Problem #4: Isolated Networking in TripleO Heat Templates Needs to be Refactored

The current isolated networking templates use parameters in nested stacks to define the IP information for each nework. There is no room in the current schema to define multiple subnets per network, and no way to configure the routers for each network. These values are provided by single parameters.

Possible Solutions, Ideas or Approaches:

  1. We would need to refactor these resources to provide different routers for each network.

  2. We extend the custom and isolated networks in TripleO to add support for Neutron routed-networks (segments) and multiple subnets. Each subnet will be mapped to a different L2 segment. We should make the extension backward compatible and only enable Neutron routed-networks (I.e associate subnets with segments.) when the templates used define multiple subnets on a network. To enable this we need some changes to land in Neutron and Heat, these are the in-progress reviews:

    • Allow setting network-segment on subnet update [7]
    • Allow updating the segment property of OS::Neutron::Subnet [8]
    • Add first_segment convenience attr to OS::Neutron::Net [9]

Proposed Change

The proposed changes are discussed below.


In order to provide spine-and-leaf networking for deployments, several changes will have to be made to TripleO:

  1. Support for DHCP relay in Neutron DHCP servers (in progress), and Ironic DHCP servers (this is addressed in separate blueprints in the same series).
  2. Refactor assignment of Control Plane IPs to support routed networks (that is addressed by a separate blueprint: tripleo-predictable-ctlplane-ips [2].
  3. Refactoring of TripleO Heat Templates network isolation to support multiple subnets per isolated network, as well as per-subnet and supernet routes.
  4. Changes to Infra CI to support testing.
  5. Documentation updates.


The approach outlined here is very prescriptive, in that the networks must be known ahead of time, and the IP addresses must be selected from the appropriate pool. This is due to the reliance on static IP addresses provided by Heat. Heat will have to model the subnets and associate them with roles (node groups).

One alternative approach is to use DHCP servers to assign IP addresses on all hosts on all interfaces. This would simplify configuration within the Heat templates and environment files. Unfortunately, this was the original approach of TripleO, and it was deemed insufficient by end-users, who wanted stability of IP addresses, and didn’t want to have an external dependency on DHCP.

Another approach is to use the DHCP server functionality in the network switch infrastructure in order to PXE boot systems, then assign static IP addresses after the PXE boot is done via DHCP. This approach only solves for part of the requirement: the net booting. It does not solve the desire to have static IP addresses on each network. This could be achieved by having static IP addresses in some sort of per-node map. However, this approach is not as scalable as programatically determining the IPs, since it only applies to a fixed number of hosts. We want to retain the ability of using Neutron as an IP address management (IPAM) back-end, ideally.

Another approach which was considered was simply trunking all networks back to the Undercloud, so that dnsmasq could respond to DHCP requests directly, rather than requiring a DHCP relay. Unfortunately, this has already been identified as being unacceptable by some large operators, who have network architectures that make heavy use of L2 segregation via routers. This also won’t work well in situations where there is geographical separation between the VLANs, such as in split-site deployments.

Security Impact

One of the major differences between spine-and-leaf and standard isolated networking is that the various subnets are connected by routers, rather than being completely isolated. This means that without proper ACLs on the routers, networks which should be private may be opened up to outside traffic.

This should be addressed in the documentation, and it should be stressed that ACLs should be in place to prevent unwanted network traffic. For instance, the Internal API network is sensitive in that the database and message queue services run on that network. It is supposed to be isolated from outside connections. This can be achieved fairly easily if supernets are used, so that if all Internal API subnets are a part of the supernet, a simple ACL rule will allow only traffic between Internal API IPs (this is a simplified example that would be generally applicable to all Internal API router VLAN interfaces or for a global ACL):

allow traffic from to
deny traffic from * to

The isolated networks design separates control plane traffic from data plane traffic, and separates administrative traffic from tenant traffic. In order to preserve this separatation of traffic, we will use static routes pointing to supernets. This ensures all traffic to any subnet within a network will exit via the interface attached to the local subnet in that network. It will be important for the end user to implement ACLs in a routed network to prevent remote access to networks that would be completely isolated in a shared L2 deployment.

Other End User Impact

Deploying with spine-and-leaf will require additional parameters to provide the routing information and multiple subnets required. This will have to be documented. Furthermore, the validation scripts may need to be updated to ensure that the configuration is validated, and that there is proper connectivity between overcloud hosts.

Performance Impact

Much of the traffic that is today made over layer 2 will be traversing layer 3 routing borders in this design. That adds some minimal latency and overhead, although in practice the difference may not be noticeable. One important consideration is that the routers must not be too overcommitted on their uplinks, and the routers must be monitored to ensure that they are not acting as a bottleneck, especially if complex access control lists are used.

Other Deployer Impact

A spine-and-leaf deployment will be more difficult to troubleshoot than a deployment that simply uses a set of VLANs. The deployer may need to have more network expertise, or a dedicated network engineer may be needed to troubleshoot in some cases.

Developer Impact

Spine-and-leaf is not easily tested in virt environments. This should be possible, but due to the complexity of setting up libvirt bridges and routes, we may want to provide a pre-configured quickstart environment for testing. This may involve building multiple libvirt bridges and routing between them on the Undercloud, or it may involve using a DHCP relay on the virt-host as well as routing on the virt-host to simulate a full routing switch. A plan for development and testing will need to be developed, since not every developer can be expected to have a routed environment to work in. It may take some time to develop a routed virtual environment, so initial work will be done on bare metal.

A separate blueprint will cover adding routed network support to tripleo-quickstart.



Primary assignee:
Other assignees:


Primary approver:
Alex Schultz <>

Work Items

  1. Implement support for DHCP on routed networks using DHCP relay, as described in Problem #1 above.
  2. Add parameters to Isolated Networking model in Heat to support supernet routes for individual subnets, as described in Problem #3.
  3. Modify Isolated Networking model in Heat to support multiple subnets, as described in Problem #4.
  4. Implement support for iptables on the Controller, in order to mitigate the APIs potentially being reachable via remote routes, as described in the Security Impact section. Alternatively, document the mitigation procedure using ACLs on the routers.
  5. Document the testing procedures.
  6. Modify the documentation in tripleo-docs to cover the spine-and-leaf case.
  7. Modify the Ironic-Inspector service to record the host-to-subnet mappings, perhaps during introspection, to address Problem #2 (long-term).

Implementation Details


  1. Operator configures DHCP networks and IP address ranges
  2. Operator imports baremetal instackenv.json
  3. When introspection or deployment is run, the DHCP server receives the DHCP request from the baremetal host via DHCP relay
  4. If the node has not been introspected, reply with an IP address from the introspection pool* and the inspector PXE boot image
  5. If the node already has been introspected, then the server assumes this is a deployment attempt, and replies with the Neutron port IP address and the overcloud-full deployment image
  6. The Heat templates are processed which generate os-net-config templates, and os-net-config is run to assign static IPs from the correct subnets, as well as routes to other subnets via the router gateway addresses.

When using spine-and-leaf, the DHCP server will need to provide an introspection IP address on the appropriate subnet, depending on the information contained in the DHCP relay packet that is forwarded by the segment router. dnsmasq will automatically match the gateway address (GIADDR) of the router that forwarded the request to the subnet where the DHCP request was received, and will respond with an IP and gateway appropriate for that subnet.

The above workflow for the DHCP server should allow for provisioning IPs on multiple subnets.


There may be a dependency on the Neutron Routed Networks. This won’t be clear until a full evaluation is done on whether we can represent spine-and-leaf using only multiple subnets per network.

There will be a dependency on routing switches that perform DHCP relay service for production spine-and-leaf deployments.


In order to properly test this framework, we will need to establish at least one CI test that deploys spine-and-leaf. As discussed in this spec, it isn’t necessary to have a full routed bare metal environment in order to test this functionality, although there is some work to get it working in virtual environments such as OVB.

For bare metal testing, it is sufficient to trunk all VLANs back to the Undercloud, then run DHCP proxy on the Undercloud to receive all the requests and forward them to br-ctlplane, where dnsmasq listens. This will provide a substitute for routers running DHCP relay. For Neutron DHCP, some modifications to the iptables rule may be required to ensure that all DHCP requests from the overcloud nodes are received by the DHCP proxy and/or the Neutron dnsmasq process running in the dhcp-agent namespace.

Documentation Impact

The procedure for setting up a dev environment will need to be documented, and a work item mentions this requirement.

The TripleO docs will need to be updated to include detailed instructions for deploying in a spine-and-leaf environment, including the environment setup. Covering specific vendor implementations of switch configurations is outside this scope, but a specific overview of required configuration options should be included, such as enabling DHCP relay (or “helper-address” as it is also known) and setting the Undercloud as a server to receive DHCP requests.

The updates to TripleO docs will also have to include a detailed discussion of choices to be made about IP addressing before a deployment. If supernets are to be used for network isolation, then a good plan for IP addressing will be required to ensure scalability in the future.