Xena Project Themes

“Alala” 1

During the Wallaby development cycle, we had a goal in which “History favors the bold”. It was clear early on in that development cycle that we just had too much work coming up for contributors, that it simply was not going to be gotten to during the cycle. Unfortunately, it happens and in the grand scheme of things it is good that the community recognized it simply did not have the capacity to push it forward.

It is hard lesson to learn. But an important lesson.

The theme of that specific work is still true. History does favor the bold. And while we shouldn’t have a war cry, much less ever declare war. We should be tactical in our thinking, and execution to meet everyone’s needs. Be it operator, contributor, or ultimately end user.

And so, it seems the best path is to be bold. For us to charge forth! Declare our vision, and spread the song of our successes. Of course, needs change. Requirements change. But underlying themes should be remembered.

Purpose

Every deployer and developer has different wants, desires, needs, and hopes. The intention of this document is to lay out a consensus of the community as to what work we feel is important for the release. A work item noted in this document will get more reviews and support from the community than new or unprioritized work, but there’s no guarantee they’ll get done in the Xena cycle, or at all.

This is a list of goals the Ironic team is prioritizing for the Xena development cycle, in order of relative size with context of our dependencies and roughly referenced against the anticipated sprints and release cycle for the Xena development cycle.

The primary contact(s) listed are responsible for tracking the status of that work and herding cats to help get that work done. They are not the only contributor(s) to this work, and not necessarily doing most of the coding! They are expected to be available on IRC and the ML for questions, and report status on the whiteboard for the weekly IRC sync-up. The number of primary contacts is typically limited to 2-3 individuals to simplify communication. We expect at least one of them to have core privileges to simplify getting changes in.

Note

In the interests of keeping our work fun and enjoyable, while continuing to foster community engagement, this document may have a bit of silliness intertwined. It is all okay, we haven’t lost all of our sanity, yet.

Shifting to a Theme

The Ironic community reached consensus during the Xena PTG that our choice of word to describe things needed to be revised. Specifically, one person’s priority is not another person’s priority, and priorities can shift rapidly for individual contributors based upon present needs of their employers.

And so we seemed to reach consensus that the word was more along the line of themes instead of priorities. We can have a higher level theme for the release or cycle but then we can have some specific smaller themes which may, or may not make it into the release. From the outside, this may seem like a drastic change, but this is more in alignment with existing project practice and the realities we live with.

Going back to the Purpose of this document, what we document here is our consensus forecast. And is subject to change. Consensus may shift after the fact, but it is of the utmost importance to have a mutually agreeable starting point, which this document provides.

Goals

Priority

Primary Contacts

Target

Being Bold

Ironic Developers, Baremetal SIG

Theme

Finishing anaconda deployment

zer0cool, rpittau

Sprint 1

iSCSI deployment removal

dtantsur

Sprint 2

Database performance

TheJulia

Sprint 2

Node error history

kaifeng, arne_wiebalck

Sprint 2

Enhancing storage cleaning

janders

Sprint 2

Move to oslo.privsep

iurygregory, rpittau

Sprint 2

Virtual Media visibility

iurygregory, dtantsur

Sprint 2

Driver structure and model

TheJulia, TheJulia

Sprint 3

Finishing Secure RBAC

TheJulia

Sprint 3

Snapshots

kaifeng, TheJulia

Future

Security Interface

kaifeng, ljmcgann, rpittau, sdanni

Future

Keylime

ljmcgann, sdanni

Future

Boot from URL

Multiple contributors

Future

Schedule Structure

The indicator for this schedule is to help provide those reviewing this document a rough idea of when one may anticipate functionality to merge and be released. Things may merge sooner or later.

Sprint 1

We anticipate the release from the first sprint to be on the week of May 31st, 2021. This is six weeks after the initial planning week.

Sprint 2

The second sprint is anticipated to start the week of June 7th, 2021 and proceed until July 19th, 2021. This is approximately 7 weeks for the second sprint.

Sprint 3

After the second sprint release, The third sprint is anticipated to end the week of September 6th. Features and Driver enhancements which are not “review ready” will not be considered to hold the release on. This is anticipated to be a window of seven weeks. In essence, this can be viewed as a “freeze” but is more of a “the release train must depart on time” model.

Anticipated release date is September 9th.

Post Release Sprint

After the release, it seems to be a good time to ensure we’ve taken of needful and any necessary backports, along with bug triaging, and resolution of any “low-hanging-fruit” bugs with major impact. Example being documentation not rendering configuration options, or deployments fail under Y conditions.

This time also aligns with the general community shift after releases, where people tend to take some time off to recharge before planning, and the planning steps and discussions take place.

This sprint is anticipated to end October 8th, 2021. Additional releases may take place to address bug fixes that need to be backported during this window. The following week is anticipated to be the Project Teams Gathering and the start of the following development cycle.

Theme

General thematic work for general improvement in an area fall under the classification of theme. Largely this is work that may run the course of an entire release cycle or longer, where small incremental improvements or related work takes place.

Future

Items in the future which we as a community do not have a firm idea of when this may merge. Being on this list does express that interest exists in the community to push this effort forward during the cycle.

Goals Details

In no particular order…

Being Bold

In alignment with our general theme of alala, it is important for us to be bold, and acknowledge when we do and do not have capacity to push things forward. At the same time, we need to broadcast out. We need to speak of our successes. Our wins… and failures. And everything in between.

This visibility, can unfortunately make some of us uncomfortable, but it takes many forms. Mentorship, Public Speaking, and engagement outside of your day to day primary mission focus. This is also how we grow. How we grow ourselves, along with the community.

So be bold, think alala and go forth and cross the division. Do the thing which is uncomfortable. Propose the crazy idea. And when the times permit it, get on stage at a local conference, and speak of the experience.

For history favors the bold.

Of course, we also want to keep our santiy, or at least some of it.

Database Performance

During the Xena development cycle, the community driven Secure RBAC work added additional database interactions with-in the API which has the general effect of increasing load upon the database when project scoped tokens request items. As this is the new direction for access control in OpenStack, we need to make sure we are not making this a burden for operators with API access activity. Since some configuration patterns, could result in even more activity, depending on how the end operator chooses to configure their deployment.

Also during the cycle, one of the larger operators encountered a thundering herd situation. In essence, the database could not keep up. We need to try and be smart to prevent some of these situations from happening, or at least minimize the impact as many operators now also launch services using Kubernetes, which can result in all services coming online at the same moment, an aspect which aggrevates a thundering herd.

It should be noted, not all of this is intended to be feature work, as some of the work product will end up being backported to the Wallaby release which may take slightly different approaches.

This work may also extend into APIs for bulk data, but this ultimately also requires additional information before we can make such a decision.

Finishing Secure RBAC

The community driven Secure RBAC work which has really been underway community wide for a number of years made a large push, also community wide for projects to implement and adopt new policies whilst deprecating their old policies.

We anticipate we will seek to remove the old policies during the Xena cycle, however we need to consider Database Performance and needs of the operator.

Secure RBAC is also a fairly new configuration, we may find cross-service bugs or issues, that require additional work. This ultimately was somewhat expected.

Node error history

To boldly go forth, we must provide more insight into error history of nodes. The concept of adding support to record the important events and surface them in a human parsable way has long been under discussion and been a desired feature. It is time we make it happen.

This work was started during the Wallaby development cycle but we did not have the capcity to move it forward last cycle. This cycle we ought to finish it.

Finishing anaconda deployment

Some operators are invested in Anaconda configurations and using Anaconda kickstart files to facilitate deployments. More information can be found in anaconda deployment specification.

This work started during the Wallaby development cycle and continues. It should be wrapped up early in the first sprint as a dependency was identified too late in the Wallaby development cycle to be addressed until Xena.

Snapshots

A major compatibility gap with Nova’s Compute interaction with VMs that is lacking with Ironic baremetal nodes is support for Snapshots. This is a bit of a complex problem which may require an iterative development process. This is presently under discussion and the community is interested in the functionality. Information about this feature can be found in the snapshot specification document.

Move to oslo.privsep

This effort is being carried over from the prior cycle as it became clear the work required would take longer than time existed for us to move the changes forward. More information can be found in the migrate to privsep goal documentation.

Security Interface

Recent interest in having an integration with Keylime has brought forth interest in resurrecting the security interface which was proposed some time ago to provide an integration point for Ironic to have the understanding and capability to take the appropriate action in the event a machine has been identified to no longer match the expected profile.

Keylime

The Keylime project is an open source system security and attestation framework which was originally developed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and has evolved in close contact with the Ironic community over the past few years while it has become a project on it’s own.

Keylime helps ensure that the underlying hardware of a deployment has not been tampered with, and that ultimately the system is running the firmware and software expected. It does this with low level Trusted Platform Module integration, and a set of services that an operator may choose to deploy.

Ultimately having support for integration helps ensure a greater level of operational security by helping operators identify and isolate machines which have had malicious actions taken on them and also potentialy help increase the level of security of the deployment process by helping identify if a malicious actor has attempted to modify a running ramdisk’s contents.

This work requires the implementation of the Security Interface.

Boot from URL

This is a long sought after feature, and one more likely to surface as time goes on. Part of the conundrum is the multiple routes possible in what is interpreted as Boot from URL. Luckily Redfish has defined a standard interface to assert the configuration via the BMC.

At a minimum this cycle, we would like to make a step forward in attempting to support this functionality such that we can support it when vendors implement the feature outside of vendor OEM specific mechanisms.

Basic information on the hope of this can be found at HTTPClient Booting. Additional prior art can be found in the ilo hardware type as well, but the hope is to support this genericly, if at all possible.

Virtual Media Visibility

One of the biggest headaches for the operator and developer community, when it comes to virtual media, is the nature of the integration point in firmware.

This feature set involves a complex interaction of open source software with semi-proprietary or standards based APIs over an HTTP connection. Often this is greatly complicated by the teams which develop the firmware often are on entirely separate teams inside organizations which doesn’t have the level of insight that the community has. Ultimately, the result is sometimes virtual media breaks.

The idea is simple. Identify if the machine is known-good for virtual media and expose that in some way/shape/form, if appropriate, along with what is historically treated as tribal knowledge in terms of workarounds or potential fixes. This may be contentiouns to some, because perceptions do matter, but so does usability and we need to somehow balance this ever evolving pain point.

Driver structure and model

Our driver model has the advantage of operators being able to be very specific and ultimately have some level of knowledge or trust in the behavior of the node. Except, that power also comes with sources of confusion, and some pain points which are related where some overlapping code can result in unintended consequences.

We recognize the need to try and build consensus on one or more improvements to help alleviate some of these issues and possibly provide a forward path, while still providing a level of flexibility.

This is largely only anticipated to be a specification document this cycle, which may only be used to settle on consensus for policy moving forward. This may also drive future code enhancements, but we won’t know until consensus is reached on this topic.

Related to part of this is story 2008804 and story 2005328 which propose some ideas related to this.

Enhancing storage cleaning

Storage is a complex issue with Bare Metal. In essence two different schools of thought exist which support operators. The first is where we want to absolutely make sure nothing is still present anywhere on the machine. Some operators need this level of cleanliness. Where as others just need to know they can safely re-deploy on to the machine without repercussions.

Also, as time shifts, so do our positions and takes, so we want to make metadata wipe more akin to help provide a greater level of assurance to the “just want to be able to reuse my machine safely” group of operators.

This may result in some changes to how Secure Erase/Format operations are handled, as well as additional portions of data to be removed from disks to aid in re-use. Specifically for operators with Ceph.

iSCSI deployment removal

The first deployment method in Ironic, is also one of the more “we just need to trust” the underlying mechanisms and hope nothing happens sort of drivers. It turns out those substrates don’t handle intermittent transient failures or issues such as a port state resetting mid-flight. Due to this, deployments are easily broken or interrupted which is not ideal in varying infrastructures with different network configurations. These factors led the community to reach consensus that it was time to deprecate this deployment mechanism, and ultimately remove it from Ironic.

We anticipate it to disappear before our final release for the Xena development cycle, in part because it is extremely difficult to troubleshoot and is reliant upon the conductor block-io interface which creates a natural performance bottleneck which limits the ability to scale a deployment.

1

Alala is a reference to Greek mythology where it was the female personification of raising a war cry. In this context, it is a reference to the television show Xena: Warrior Princess.