Operational requirements

Operational requirements

This section describes operational factors affecting the design of an OpenStack cloud.

Network design

The network design for an OpenStack cluster includes decisions regarding the interconnect needs within the cluster, the need to allow clients to access their resources, and the access requirements for operators to administrate the cluster. You should consider the bandwidth, latency, and reliability of these networks.

Consider additional design decisions about monitoring and alarming. If you are using an external provider, service level agreements (SLAs) are typically defined in your contract. Operational considerations such as bandwidth, latency, and jitter can be part of the SLA.

As demand for network resources increase, make sure your network design accommodates expansion and upgrades. Operators add additional IP address blocks and add additional bandwidth capacity. In addition, consider managing hardware and software lifecycle events, for example upgrades, decommissioning, and outages, while avoiding service interruptions for tenants.

Factor maintainability into the overall network design. This includes the ability to manage and maintain IP addresses as well as the use of overlay identifiers including VLAN tag IDs, GRE tunnel IDs, and MPLS tags. As an example, if you may need to change all of the IP addresses on a network, a process known as renumbering, then the design must support this function.

Address network-focused applications when considering certain operational realities. For example, consider the impending exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, the migration to IPv6, and the use of private networks to segregate different types of traffic that an application receives or generates. In the case of IPv4 to IPv6 migrations, applications should follow best practices for storing IP addresses. We recommend you avoid relying on IPv4 features that did not carry over to the IPv6 protocol or have differences in implementation.

To segregate traffic, allow applications to create a private tenant network for database and storage network traffic. Use a public network for services that require direct client access from the Internet. Upon segregating the traffic, consider quality of service (QoS) and security to ensure each network has the required level of service.

Also consider the routing of network traffic. For some applications, develop a complex policy framework for routing. To create a routing policy that satisfies business requirements, consider the economic cost of transmitting traffic over expensive links versus cheaper links, in addition to bandwidth, latency, and jitter requirements.

Finally, consider how to respond to network events. How load transfers from one link to another during a failure scenario could be a factor in the design. If you do not plan network capacity correctly, failover traffic could overwhelm other ports or network links and create a cascading failure scenario. In this case, traffic that fails over to one link overwhelms that link and then moves to the subsequent links until all network traffic stops.

SLA considerations

Service-level agreements (SLAs) define the levels of availability that will impact the design of an OpenStack cloud to provide redundancy and high availability.

SLA terms that affect the design include:

  • API availability guarantees implying multiple infrastructure services and highly available load balancers.
  • Network uptime guarantees affecting switch design, which might require redundant switching and power.
  • Networking security policy requirements.

In any environment larger than just a few hosts, there are two areas that might be subject to a SLA:

  • Data Plane - services that provide virtualization, networking, and storage. Customers usually require these services to be continuously available.
  • Control Plane - ancillary services such as API endpoints, and services that control CRUD operations. The services in this category are usually subject to a different SLA expectation and may be better suited on separate hardware or containers from the Data Plane services.

To effectively run cloud installations, initial downtime planning includes creating processes and architectures that support planned maintenance and unplanned system faults.

It is important to determine as part of the SLA negotiation which party is responsible for monitoring and starting up the Compute service instances if an outage occurs.

Upgrading, patching, and changing configuration items may require downtime for some services. Stopping services that form the Control Plane may not impact the Data Plane. Live-migration of Compute instances may be required to perform any actions that require downtime to Data Plane components.

There are many services outside the realms of pure OpenStack code which affects the ability of a cloud design to meet SLAs, including:

  • Database services, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL.
  • Services providing RPC, such as RabbitMQ.
  • External network attachments.
  • Physical constraints such as power, rack space, network cabling, etc.
  • Shared storage including SAN based arrays, storage clusters such as Ceph, and/or NFS services.

Depending on the design, some network service functions may fall into both the Control and Data Plane categories. For example, the neutron L3 Agent service may be considered a Control Plane component, but the routers themselves would be a Data Plane component.

In a design with multiple regions, the SLA would also need to take into consideration the use of shared services such as the Identity service and Dashboard.

Any SLA negotiation must also take into account the reliance on third parties for critical aspects of the design. For example, if there is an existing SLA on a component such as a storage system, the SLA must take into account this limitation. If the required SLA for the cloud exceeds the agreed uptime levels of the cloud components, additional redundancy would be required. This consideration is critical in a hybrid cloud design, where there are multiple third parties involved.

Support and maintenance

An operations staff supports, manages, and maintains an OpenStack environment. Their skills may be specialized or varied depending on the size and purpose of the installation.

The maintenance function of an operator should be taken into consideration:

Maintenance tasks
Operating system patching, hardware/firmware upgrades, and datacenter related changes, as well as minor and release upgrades to OpenStack components are all ongoing operational tasks. The six monthly release cycle of the OpenStack projects needs to be considered as part of the cost of ongoing maintenance. The solution should take into account storage and network maintenance and the impact on underlying workloads.
Reliability and availability
Reliability and availability depend on the many supporting components’ availability and on the level of precautions taken by the service provider. This includes network, storage systems, datacenter, and operating systems.

For more information on managing and maintaining your OpenStack environment, see the OpenStack Operations Guide.

Logging and monitoring

OpenStack clouds require appropriate monitoring platforms to identify and manage errors.


We recommend leveraging existing monitoring systems to see if they are able to effectively monitor an OpenStack environment.

Specific meters that are critically important to capture include:

  • Image disk utilization
  • Response time to the Compute API

Logging and monitoring does not significantly differ for a multi-site OpenStack cloud. The tools described in the Logging and monitoring in the Operations Guide remain applicable. Logging and monitoring can be provided on a per-site basis, and in a common centralized location.

When attempting to deploy logging and monitoring facilities to a centralized location, care must be taken with the load placed on the inter-site networking links

Management software

Management software providing clustering, logging, monitoring, and alerting details for a cloud environment is often used. This impacts and affects the overall OpenStack cloud design, and must account for the additional resource consumption such as CPU, RAM, storage, and network bandwidth.

The inclusion of clustering software, such as Corosync or Pacemaker, is primarily determined by the availability of the cloud infrastructure and the complexity of supporting the configuration after it is deployed. The OpenStack High Availability Guide provides more details on the installation and configuration of Corosync and Pacemaker, should these packages need to be included in the design.

Some other potential design impacts include:

  • OS-hypervisor combination
    Ensure that the selected logging, monitoring, or alerting tools support the proposed OS-hypervisor combination.
  • Network hardware
    The network hardware selection needs to be supported by the logging, monitoring, and alerting software.

Database software

Most OpenStack components require access to back-end database services to store state and configuration information. Choose an appropriate back-end database which satisfies the availability and fault tolerance requirements of the OpenStack services.

MySQL is the default database for OpenStack, but other compatible databases are available.


Telemetry uses MongoDB.

The chosen high availability database solution changes according to the selected database. MySQL, for example, provides several options. Use a replication technology such as Galera for active-active clustering. For active-passive use some form of shared storage. Each of these potential solutions has an impact on the design:

  • Solutions that employ Galera/MariaDB require at least three MySQL nodes.
  • MongoDB has its own design considerations for high availability.
  • OpenStack design, generally, does not include shared storage. However, for some high availability designs, certain components might require it depending on the specific implementation.

Operator access to systems

There is a trend for cloud operations systems being hosted within the cloud environment. Operators require access to these systems to resolve a major incident.

Ensure that the network structure connects all clouds to form an integrated system. Also consider the state of handoffs which must be reliable and have minimal latency for optimal performance of the system.

If a significant portion of the cloud is on externally managed systems, prepare for situations where it may not be possible to make changes. Additionally, cloud providers may differ on how infrastructure must be managed and exposed. This can lead to delays in root cause analysis where a provider insists the blame lies with the other provider.

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