[openstack-dev] [Ironic] Adding vendor drivers in Ironic

Dmitry Tantsur dtantsur at redhat.com
Mon Mar 2 08:48:45 UTC 2015

On 02/28/2015 07:28 AM, Ramakrishnan G wrote:
> Hello All,

> This is about adding vendor drivers in Ironic.
> In Kilo, we have many vendor drivers getting added in Ironic which is a
> very good thing.  But something I noticed is that, most of these reviews
> have lots of hardware-specific code in them.  This is something most of
> the other Ironic folks cannot understand unless they go and read the
> hardware manuals of the vendor hardware about what is being done.
> Otherwise we just need to blindly mark the file as reviewed.
> Now let me pitch in with our story about this.  We added a vendor driver
> for HP Proliant hardware (the *ilo drivers in Ironic).  Initially we
> proposed this same thing in Ironic that we will add all the hardware
> specific code in Ironic itself under the directory drivers/modules/ilo.
> But few of the Ironic folks didn't agree on this (Devananda especially
> who is from my company :)). So we created a new module proliantutils,
> hosted in our own github and recently moved it to stackforge.  We gave a
> limited set of APIs for Ironic to use - like get_host_power_status(),
> set_host_power(), get_one_time_boot(), set_one_time_boot(), etc. (Entire
> list is here
> https://github.com/stackforge/proliantutils/blob/master/proliantutils/ilo/operations.py).
> We have only seen benefits in doing it.  Let me bring in some examples:
> 1) We tried to add support for some lower version of servers.  We could
> do this without making any changes in Ironic (Review in proliantutils
> https://review.openstack.org/#/c/153945/)
> 2) We are adding support for newer models of servers (earlier we use to
> talk to servers in protocol called RIBCL, newer servers we will use a
> protocol called RIS) - We could do this with just 14 lines of actual
> code change in Ironic (this was needed mainly because we didn't think we
> will have to use a new protocol itself when we started) -
> https://review.openstack.org/#/c/154403/
> Now talking about the advantages of putting hardware-specific code in
> Ironic:
> *1) It's reviewed by Openstack community and tested:*
> No. I doubt if I throw in 600 lines of new iLO specific code that is
> here
> (https://github.com/stackforge/proliantutils/blob/master/proliantutils/ilo/ris.py)
> for Ironic folks, they will hardly take a look at it.  And regarding
> testing, it's not tested in the gate unless we have a 3rd party CI for
> it.  [We (iLO drivers) also don't have 3rd party CI right now, but we
> are working on it.]
> *2) Everything gets packaged into distributions automatically:*
> Now the hardware-specific code that we add in Ironic under
> drivers/modules/<vendor>/ will get packaged into distributions, but this
> code in turn will have dependencies  which needs to be installed
> manually by the operator (I assume vendor specific dependencies are not
> considered by Linux distributions while packaging Openstack Ironic).
> Anyone installing Ironic and wanting to manage my company's servers will
> again need to install these dependencies manually.  Why not install the
> wrapper if there is one too.
> I assume we only get these advantages by moving all of hardware-specific
> code to a wrapper module in stackforge and just exposing some APIs for
> Ironic to use:
> * Ironic code would be much cleaner and easier to maintain
> * Any changes related to your hardware - support for newer hardware, bug
> fixes in particular models of hardware, would be very easy. You don't
> need to change Ironic code for that. You could just fix the bug in your
> module, release a new version and ask your users to install a newer
> version of the module.
> * python-fooclient could be used outside Ironic to easily manage foo
> servers.
> * Openstack CI for free if you are in stackforge - unit tests, flake
> tests, doc generation, merge, pypi release everything handled automatically.
> I don't see any disadvantages.
> Now regarding the time taken to do this, if you have all the code ready
> now in Ironic (which assume you will already have), perhaps it will take
> a day to do this - half a day for putting into a separate module in
> python/github and half a day for stackforge. The request to add
> stackforge should get approved in the same day (if everything is all-right).
> Let me know all of your thoughts on this.  If we agree, I feel we should
> have some documentation on it in our Ironic docs directory.

Thanks for writing this out!

I understand the concern about splitting this community effort, however, 
I tend to agree with you. Reviewing vendor-specific code does make me 
feel weird: on one hand I do my best to check it, on another - I realize 
that I can approve code that has no chances of working just because I 
can and will miss some hardware-specific detail.

My biggest concern in making it a rule is support level for this 
external code. I'm not questioning quality of proliantutils :) but I can 
envision people not putting too much effort into maintaining their 3rd 
part stuff. E.g. I already saw 3rd party module that is not even on PyPI 
(and does not have any tests). I don't know what to do in this case. Of 
course we can say "that's none of our business", but in the end, if 
Ironic does not work for their consumers, it's our shared fault.

So in the end, I'm +1 to the procedure itself, but -0 to making it a 
rule. But yeah, it's worth discussing. Thanks!

> Thanks for reading :)
> Regards,
> Ramesh
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