Ironic now enables infrastructure operators to modify existing nodes using the “service steps” framework. Servicing allows operators to leverage steps, like you would for cleaning or customized deployments, to perform actions to modify deployed nodes in an ACTIVE state.
Previously, Ironic would not perform operations on active nodes, largely due to standing technical consensus within the Ironic project. Recent operator feedback and additional new features added to help model and support Data/Infrastructure Processing Units (DPUs/IPUs) has driven the Ironic community to re-evaluate this consensus and to adapt the capabilities in order to add this new feature.
The main reason we envisioned for this feature was to enable infrastructure operators to perform firmware/software upgrades on these DPU/IPU devices, which are very much like embedded devices enabling a more performant and capable infrastructure environment. Much of Ironic’s work this past cycle was focused on this and similar use cases surrounding add-on Processing Units and their management which also impacts the management of the base physical machine.
Ironic operators have also long sought capabilities to make major changes to deployed nodes in a self-service and automated fashion. These operators have long wanted to perform actions such as re-configure RAID, apply firmware updates, or even re-execute benchmark operations. These actions are often necessary in the world of physical baremetal servers when performing both day to day maintenance as well as working to repair or verify that the equipment has been successfully repaired. The power of Ironic enables that operators can work to perform these actions at scale in an automated fashion, reducing the need to interact with individual server nodes to achieve the same results. This way operators are no longer forced to migrate workloads for relatively minor system modifications.
This added functionality represents a major step forward in terms of capabilities, and also the evolution of capabilities driven by human feedback in our Open Source communities. The project recognizes with any new and complex feature there may be additional room for improvement, or potential edge cases which we did not anticipate, and as such we do expect to continue to work in the area of these features in the coming development cycle (2024.1 “Caracal”) to harden as well further extend these capabilities with an eye on enabling simplified paths to manage complex nested structures within a bare metal node, the foundation of the modern data center. This space is made particularly challenging due to the increased adoption of Add-On Processing Units, but the Ironic project is up to the challenge.
If you’re an infrastructure operator, and interested in joining the discussion during the upcoming PTG, you’re welcome to join us in discussion during the upcoming PTG. Make sure you register for free ahead of time and find out about the topics.
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