[tc] [ironic] Promoting ironic to a top-level opendev project?

Dmitry Tantsur dtantsur at redhat.com
Wed Apr 1 17:03:47 UTC 2020

Hi everyone!

This topic should not come as a huge surprise for many, since it has been
raised numerous times in the past years. I have a feeling that the end of
Ussuri, now that we’ve re-acquired our PTL and are on the verge of
selecting new TC members, may be a good time to propose it for a formal

TL;DR I’m proposing to make Ironic a top-level project under opendev.org
and the OpenStack Foundation, following the same model as Zuul. I don’t
propose severing current relationships with other OpenStack projects, nor
making substantial changes in how the project is operated.

(And no, it’s not an April 1st joke)


Ironic was born as a Nova plugin, but has grown way beyond this single case
since then. The first commit in Bifrost dates to February 2015. During
these 5 years (hey, we forgot to celebrate!) it has developed into a
commonly used data center management tool - and still based on standalone
Ironic! The Metal3 project uses standalone Ironic as its hardware
management backend. We haven’t been “just” a component of OpenStack for a
while now, I think it’s time to officially recognize it.

And before you ask: in no case do I suggest scaling down our invaluable
integration with Nova. We’re observing a solid growth of deployments using
Ironic as an addition to their OpenStack clouds, and this proposal doesn’t
try to devalue this use case. The intention is to accept publicly and
officially that it’s not the only or the main use case, but one of the main
use cases. I don’t think it comes as a surprise to the Nova team.

Okay, so why?

The first and the main reason is the ambiguity in our positioning. We do
see prospective operators and users confused by the perception that Ironic
is a part of OpenStack, especially when it comes to the standalone use
case. “But what if I don’t need OpenStack” is a question that I hear in
most of these conversations. Changing from “a part of OpenStack” to “a FOSS
tool that can integrate with OpenStack” is critical for our project to keep
growing into new fields. To me personally it feels in line with how OpenDev
itself is reaching into new areas beyond just the traditional IaaS. The
next OpenDev even will apparently have a bare metal management track, so
why not a top-level project for it?

Another reason is release cadence. We have repeatedly expressed the desire
to release Ironic and its sub-projects more often than we do now. Granted,
*technically* we can release often even now. We can even abandon the
current release model and switch to “independent”, but it doesn’t entirely
solve the issue at hand. First, we don’t want to lose the notion of stable
branches. One way or another, we need to support consumers with bug fix
releases. Second, to become truly “independent” we’ll need to remove any
tight coupling with any projects that do integrated releases. Which is,
essentially, what I’m proposing here.

Finally, I believe that our independence (can I call it “Irexit” please?)
has already happened in reality, we just shy away from recognizing it. Look:
1. All integration points with other OpenStack projects are optional.
2. We can work fully standalone and even provide a project for that.
3. Many new features (RAID, BIOS to name a few) are exposed to standalone
users much earlier than to those going through Nova.
4. We even have our own mini-scheduler (although its intention is not and
has not been to replace the Placement service).
5. We make releases more often than the “core” OpenStack projects (but see

What we will do

This proposal involves in the short term:
* Creating a new git namespace: opendev.org/ironic
* Creating a new website (name TBD, bare metal puns are welcome).
   * If we can have https://docs.opendev.org/ironic/, it may be just fine
* Keeping the same governance model, only adjusted to the necessary extent.
* Keeping the same policies (reviews, CI, stable).
* Defining a new release cadence and stable branch support schedule.

In the long term we will consider (not necessary do):
* Reshaping our CI to rely less on devstack and grenade (only use them for
jobs involving OpenStack).
* Reducing or removing reliance on oslo libraries.
* Stopping using rabbitmq for messaging (we’ve already made it optional).
* Integrating with non-OpenStack services (kubernetes?) and providing
lighter alternatives (think, built-in authentication).

What we will NOT do

At least this proposal does NOT involve:
* Stopping maintaining the Ironic virt driver in Nova.
   * Stopping running voting CI jobs with OpenStack services.
* Dropping optional integration with OpenStack services.
* Leaving OpenDev completely.

What do you think?

Please let us know what you think about this proposal. Any hints on how to
proceed with it, in case we reach a consensus, are also welcome.

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