A proposal for the New Ironic State Machine.

A proposal for the New Ironic State Machine.


This blueprint suggests reworking the Ironic provisioning state machine to fix some current shortcomings and to make it easier for drivers and external orchestration agents to manage nodes in Ironic.

NOTE: This blueprint describes the functionality we intend the new state machine to have. Actual implementation of this spec, including detailed upgrade paths and technical arcana will be handled by other specs.

Problem description

The current Ironic state machine has a few shortcomings:

  • NOSTATE is a state that indicates we have no state information about a node. This may be fine for talking about the node’s power state, but we should always know what provisioning state a node is in.
  • We also need a state to put nodes in when they are performing configuration tasks that can reasonably be expected to take hours to complete, such as RAID configuration and burn in. It is unreasonable to force upstream consumers of Ironic managed nodes to wait hours between the time they request a node and get it, so running these tasks as part of DEPLOYING or DEPLOYWAIT is nonviable.
  • We also need a place to handle node decommissioning tasks. The current decommissioning blueprints handle this add ‘decommissioning’ and ‘decommissioned’ states, but it would also be useful to perform decommissioning tasks on freshly-added nodes.
  • We also need to let external orchestration systems hook into parts of the state machine for each node to let them manage parts of the node life cycle without having to import that functionality into Ironic. Details of how that will happen will be covered in a different spec.

Proposed change

Current state machine:

       NOSTATE//NONE +----------+------+\     [DEPLOYWAIT//DEPLOYDONE]
            ^             R:active      +         ^
            |                           |         |
            +                           v         v
       +    ^                   |       +               +
       |    |          R:rebuild|       |               |
       v    |                   |       |               v
ERROR//NONE |                   |       |          DEPLOYFAIL//NONE
            |                   |       v
            |                   +---+ACTIVE//NONE
            |    R:deleted              +

Legend for the current state machine:

  • [STATE] indicates an active state. Ironic is doing something to the node.
  • STATE indicates a stable (or passive) state. Ironic will not transition unless receiving a request via the API.
  • R:request indicates the request which must be passed to the API to initiate a transition out of a stable state.

Ironic’s API presents two fields for the provision_state of a node: current and target. Thus, in this diagram, all states are represented as “CURRENT-slash-slash-TARGET” state.

Descriptions of the states for the current state machine can be found here <https://github.com/openstack/ironic/blob/stable/icehouse/ironic/common/states.py>.

New state machine:

        R:manage            |
                |        +  + ^ |          |
                | R:clean|  | | |R:inspect |
                +        |  | | |          +
                            | |
                   R:provide| +----------+
                    +-------+   R:manage |
                    v                    +
                    ^                   +
                    |                   |R:active
                    +                   v
          [DELET*/AVAILABLE]         [DEPLOY*/ACTIVE]
                    ^                   +  ^
                    |R:delete           |  |R:rebuild
                    |                   v  +
                    |                      ^              |R:rescue
                    |                      |              v
                    |                      +        [RESCU*/RESCUE]
                    |                [UNRESCU*/ACTIVE]    +
                    |                      ^              |
                    |                      |R:unrescue    |
                    |                      |              v

Legend for the new state machine:


STATE* indicates an active state, a momentary state, and a fail state. The active state has an -ING suffix, the momentary state has a -ED suffix, and the fail state has a -FAIL suffix. In the active state, Ironic is doing something to the node.

  • If the steps taken during the active (-ING) state succeed, Ironic will automatically transition to the momentary (-ED) state and then to the next indicated state on the graph. Unless there are special rules for momentary states, they will not be separately described.
  • If it fails, Ironic will transition to the fail (-FAIL) state. Unless there are special rules for the fail state, it will not be separately described.

TARGET indicates the target state that Ironic will try to transition the node to from the active state. TARGET must be a stable state.

A stable (or passive) state, usually the target of a particular set of state transitions. Ironic will not transition away from this state without an API request to do so.
Indicates that the transition so labeled happens as a result of this particular API call.

Descriptions of the new states:

This is the state that all nodes start off in. When a node is in ENROLL, the only thing Ironic knows about it is that it exists, and Ironic cannot take any further action by itself. Once a node has its drivers and the required information for each driver in node.properties, the node can be transitioned to VERIFYING via the manage API call
Ironic will validate that it can manage the node with the drivers and the credentials it has been assigned. For drivers that manage power state of the node, this must involve actually going out and confirming that the credentials work to access whatever node control mechanism they talk to.

Once Ironic has verified that it can manage the node using the driver and credentials passed in at node create time, the node will be transitioned to MANAGEABLE and (optionally) powered off. From MANAGEABLE, nodes can transition to:

  • MANAGEABLE (through CLEANING) via the clean API call,
  • MANAGEABLE (through INSPECTING) via the inspect API call, and
  • AVAILABLE (through CLEANING) via the provide API call.
INSPECTING will utilize node introspection to update hardware-derived node properties to reflect the current state of the hardware. We expect this state to get its data via the driver introspection interface (reference to spec forthcoming). If introspection fails, the node will transition to INSPECTFAIL.

Nodes in the CLEANING state are being scrubbed in preparation to being made AVAILABLE. Good candidates for CLEANING tasks include:

  • Erasing the drives.
  • Validating firmware integrity.
  • Verifying that the actual hardware configuration matches what is described in node.properties.
  • Booting to a long running deploy ramdisk, if you want the machine to stay on while in AVAILABLE.

No matter what tasks are performed during CLEANING, the apparent configuration of the system must not change. For instance, if you tear down a set of RAID volumes to securely erase each physical disk separately, you must rebuild the RAID volumes you tore down.

When a node is in CLEANING state it means that the conductor is executing the clean step (out-of-band) or preparing the environment (building PXE configuration files, configuring the DHCP, etc..) to boot the ramdisk.


Just like the CLEANING state, the nodes in CLEANWAIT are being prepared to become AVAILABLE. The difference is that in CLEANWAIT the conductor is waiting for the ramdisk to boot or the clean step which is running in-band to finish.

The cleaning process of a node in CLEANWAIT can be interrupted via the abort API call.


Nodes in the AVAILABLE state are cleaned, preconfigured, and ready to be provisioned. From AVAILABLE, nodes can transition to:

  • ACTIVE (through DEPLOYING) via the active API call.
  • MANAGEABLE via the manage API call

Nodes in DEPLOYING are being actively prepared to run a workload on them. This should mainly consist of running a series of short-lived tasks, such as:

  • Setting appropriate BIOS configurations
  • Partitioning drives and laying down file systems.
  • Creating any additional resources (node-specific network config, etc.) that may be required by additional subsystems.

Tasks for DEPLOYING should be handled in a manner similar to how they are handled for CLEANING (details to be addressed in a different spec).


Just like the DEPLOYING state, the nodes in DEPLOYWAIT are being deployed. The difference is that in DEPLOYWAIT the conductor is waiting for the ramdisk to boot or execute parts of the deployment which needs to run in-band on the node (for example, installing the bootloader, writing the image to the disk when iSCSI is not used, etc…).

The deployment of a node in DEPLOYWAIT provision state can be interrupted via the deleted API call.


Nodes in ACTIVE have a workload running on them. Ironic may collect out-of-band sensor information (including power state) on a regular basis, but will otherwise leave them alone. Nodes in ACTIVE can transition to:

  • RESCUE (through RESCUING) via the rescue API call,
  • AVAILABLE (through DELETING and CLEANING) via the delete API call, or
  • ACTIVE (through DEPLOYING) via the rebuild API call.
Nodes in RESCUING are being booted into a temporary operating environment for troubleshooting or maintenance related reasons.

RESCUE exists to allow Ironic to be aware of a node that would be otherwise running a workload, but that is booted into a different operating environment for maintenance or troubleshooting reasons. From RESCUE, nodes can transition to:

  • ACTIVE (through UNRESCUING) via the unrescue API call, or
  • AVAILABLE (through DELETING and CLEANING) via the delete API call.
Nodes in UNRESCUING are being transitioned back to ACTIVE from RESCUE. Ironic will unwind whatever it needed to do to get the node into RESCUE
Nodes in DELETING state are being torn down from running an active workload. In DELETING, Ironic should tear down or remove any configuration or resources it added in DEPLOYING.


No reasonable ones that we could think of at the summit.

Data model impact

Under the current state machine, NOSTATE is represented by a NULL in the database. This will require a database migration to change all NULLs to “AVAILABLE” along with special-case API handling during the migration. The additional states should not require changes to the data model.

REST API impact

We will provide the following verbs to manage the node lifecycle in the state machine:

Verb Initial State Intermediate States End State

The API will remain backwards compatible with the active, rebuild, and delete verbs.

Unless otherwise required for backwards compatibility, the verbs must be called when the node is in the Initial State, and Ironic will perform all actions and transitions needed to move through the Intermediate States to the End State.

Since we are adding new states, older API clients may behave unexpectedly when they encounter a node in a state they do not understand.

RPC API impact

Not as a direct impact of this spec (beyond what is mentioned in the REST API impact section), but all the to-be-written specs which will actually implement the new states will have significant RPC and REST api impact.

Driver API impact

Yes. Large swaths of driver code will need a refactor to cooperate with the new per-node state machines.

Nova driver impact

NOSTATE has been renamed to AVAILABLE. This will require some glue code and creating an upgrade path.

Security impact

Probably not, assuming perfect coding.

Other end user impact


Scalability impact

Probably nothing significant.

Performance Impact


Other deployer impact

Nodes will not automatically transition from ENROLL to MANAGEABLE. Deployers must assign drivers and add credentials to the node and then call the manage API before Ironic can manage the node.

Nodes will not automatically transition from MANAGEABLE to AVAILABLE, deployers will need to do that via the API before nodes can be scheduled.

Developer impact

Current and new Ironic drivers will need rework to comply with the new state machine.



None yet.

Work Items

Specs need written to hash out the implementation details that the new state machine implies.


Most every blueprint that touches on the Ironic drivers will be affected, but this blueprint is vendor-agnostic.


None for this spec, but the implementation specs will need to address testing impacts of the changes they recommend.

Upgrades and Backwards Compatibility

None for this spec, but the implementation specs will need to address upgrade and backwards compatibility.

Documentation Impact

This spec should be used as initial documentation for the new state machine.


Anyone have a link to some developer session notes? I was sorta busy being a whiteboard monkey: https://i.imgur.com/tCxUCYk.jpg

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