Use configdrive with Ironic

This blueprint adds support for configdrive for the Ironic virt driver, to enable Nova to pass a configdrive to Ironic, to be used when deploying a bare metal instance.

Problem description

Instances deployed by Ironic should be able to use cloud-init (or similar software) to put an end user’s data on an instance. This is possible today with Ironic by including cloud-init with the image, and pointing it at a Nova metadata service.

There are two issues with this approach:

  • Some deployers do not run a metadata service in their environment.

  • If a deployer provisions Ironic machines using static IP address assignment, the instance will not have network access until cloud-init puts the network configuration into place. If the metadata service is the only way to get the network configuration, the instance is deadlocked on getting network access.

To solve these problems, a configdrive image can take the place of the metadata service. In the VM world, this is typically handled by the hypervisor exposing a configdrive image to the VM as a volume.

In Ironic’s case, there is no hypervisor, so this image needs to be exposed to the instance in some other fashion. This could be accomplished by writing the image to a partition on the node, exposing the image via the out-of-band mechanism (e.g. a virtual floppy in HP’s iLO), or configuring the node to mount the image from a SAN. In any case, this needs to be handled by Ironic, rather than Nova. However, Nova has the data that belongs in the configdrive, as well as the code to generate the image. So, it makes sense for Nova to generate an image and pass it to Ironic.

Use Cases

The main use case here is feature parity with other virt drivers. Other drivers support configdrive today, and deployers use it. Deployers of Ironic should also be able to use configdrives.

There are two main use cases as described above:

  • Deployers that do not use the metadata service.

  • Deployers that wish to use static IP assignment, where the instance will not have network access to get to the metadata service.

Project Priority

The kilo priorities list is currently not defined, however “virt driver feature parity” seems important.

Proposed change

Nova should generate the configdrive image and pass it to Ironic, if needed. This should use the existing code (nova.virt.configdrive:required_by) to determine if a configdrive should be generated.

This will consist of these steps:

  • The Ironic virt driver decides if a configdrive should be generated for this instance. If so:

  • The virt driver generates the configdrive, gzips and base64 encode it.

  • The virt driver passes the encoded image to Ironic via the Ironic API.

  • The Ironic service will then store the image in some system and holds on to a URI for it, or if no external system is configured, Ironic will save the image into its database. The reference implementation for this will be using Swift, with a configurable TTL.

  • Ironic pass the image to the deploy driver that will then expose it to the tenant. The initial implementation will create a config drive partition on the disk and copy the image onto it, but it could be extended to use the virtual media out-of-band if the target hardware supports it.


The only alternative to solving the problems described above, is to write network configuration and user data directly to the image to be deployed, on the fly. I think it is suffice to say that Ironic should not be in the business of injecting files directly into images, nor should we force end users to use custom images with this data already injected.

As mentioned before, Ironic’s drivers may provide various mechanisms for exposing this image to the instance. However, no matter the mechanism used, the interaction will be the same from Nova’s perspective.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Security impact

None for this spec, but Ironic might store the end user data in Swift. This may be a security concern, as this data is not encrypted at rest.

Notifications impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact

Generating the configdrive image and sending it to another service will cause Nova to spend more time in Ironic’s virt driver, although the additional time spent should be relatively small.

Other deployer impact


Developer impact




Primary assignee:


Work Items

  • Implement the code and unit tests. This will involve changing the spawn() function in Ironic’s virt driver to generate the configdrive, gzip, base64 encode it and pass it to Ironic as part of the request BODY of the API call to start the deployment of the Node.


This change depends on Ironic support for writing the configdrive to the instance. [1]



Documentation Impact

Documentation may need to be updated to indicate that a configdrive may be used with bare metal instances.


[1] Ironic configdrive spec: