Upgrade checks


This document details how to generate upgrade checks as part of a new feature or bugfix. For info on how to apply existing upgrade checks, refer to the documentation for the nova-status command in nova-status. For info on the general upgrade process for a nova deployment, refer to Upgrades.

Nova provides automated upgrade check tooling to assist deployment tools in verifying critical parts of the deployment, especially when it comes to major changes during upgrades that require operator intervention.

This guide covers the background on nova’s upgrade check tooling, how it is used, and what to look for in writing new checks.


Nova has historically supported offline database schema migrations (nova-manage db sync and nova-manage api_db sync) and online data migrations (nova-manage db online_data_migrations) during upgrades, as discussed in Database migrations. The nova-status upgrade check command was introduced in the 15.0.0 (Ocata) release to aid in the verification of two major required changes in that release, namely Placement and Cells v2.

Integration with the Placement service and deploying Cells v2 was optional starting in the 14.0.0 Newton release and made required in the Ocata release. The nova team working on these changes knew that there were required deployment changes to successfully upgrade to Ocata. In addition, the required deployment changes were not things that could simply be verified in a database migration script, e.g. a migration script should not make REST API calls to Placement.

So nova-status upgrade check was written to provide an automated “pre-flight” check to verify that required deployment steps were performed prior to upgrading to Ocata.

Reference the Ocata changes for implementation details.


  • The checks should be able to run within a virtual environment or container. All that is required is a full configuration file, similar to running other nova-manage type administration commands. In the case of nova, this means having api_database, placement, etc sections configured.

  • Candidates for automated upgrade checks are things in a project’s upgrade release notes which can be verified via the database. For example, when upgrading to Cells v2 in Ocata, one required step was creating “cell mappings” for cell0 and cell1. This can easily be verified by checking the contents of the cell_mappings table in the nova_api database.

  • Checks will query the database(s) and potentially REST APIs (depending on the check) but should not expect to run RPC calls. For example, a check should not require that the nova-compute service is running on a particular host.

  • Checks are typically meant to be run before re-starting and upgrading to new service code, which is how grenade uses them, but they can also be run as a post-install verify step which is how openstack-ansible also uses them. The high-level set of upgrade steps for upgrading nova in grenade is:

    • Install new code

    • Sync the database schema for new models (nova-manage api_db sync; nova-manage db sync)

    • Run the online data migrations (nova-manage db online_data_migrations)

    • Run the upgrade check (nova-status upgrade check)

    • Restart services with new code

  • Checks must be idempotent so they can be run repeatedly and the results are always based on the latest data. This allows an operator to run the checks, fix any issues reported, and then iterate until the status check no longer reports any issues.

  • Checks which cannot easily, or should not, be run within offline database migrations are a good candidate for these CLI-driven checks. For example, instances records are in the cell database and for each instance there should be a corresponding request_specs table entry in the nova_api database. A nova-manage db online_data_migrations routine was added in the Newton release to back-fill request specs for existing instances, and in Rocky an upgrade check was added to make sure all non-deleted instances have a request spec so compatibility code can be removed in Stein. In older releases of nova we would have added a blocker migration as part of the database schema migrations to make sure the online data migrations had been completed before the upgrade could proceed.


    Usage of nova-status upgrade check does not preclude the need for blocker migrations within a given database, but in the case of request specs the check spans multiple databases and was a better fit for the nova-status tooling.

  • All checks should have an accompanying upgrade release note.


There is no graph logic for checks, meaning each check is meant to be run independently of other checks in the same set. For example, a project could have five checks which run serially but that does not mean the second check in the set depends on the results of the first check in the set, or the third check depends on the second, and so on.

The base framework is fairly simple as can be seen from the initial change. Each check is registered in the _upgrade_checks variable and the check method executes each check and records the result. The most severe result is recorded for the final return code.

There are one of three possible results per check:

  • Success: All upgrade readiness checks passed successfully and there is nothing to do.

  • Warning: At least one check encountered an issue and requires further investigation. This is considered a warning but the upgrade may be OK.

  • Failure: There was an upgrade status check failure that needs to be investigated. This should be considered something that stops an upgrade.

The UpgradeCheckResult object provides for adding details when there is a warning or failure result which generally should refer to how to resolve the failure, e.g. maybe nova-manage db online_data_migrations is incomplete and needs to be run again.

Using the cells v2 check as an example, there are really two checks involved:

  1. Do the cell0 and cell1 mappings exist?

  2. Do host mappings exist in the API database if there are compute node records in the cell database?

Failing either check results in a Failure status for that check and return code of 2 for the overall run.

The initial placement check provides an example of a warning response. In that check, if there are fewer resource providers in Placement than there are compute nodes in the cell database(s), the deployment may be underutilized because the nova-scheduler is using the Placement service to determine candidate hosts for scheduling.

Warning results are good for cases where scenarios are known to run through a rolling upgrade process, e.g. nova-compute being configured to report resource provider information into the Placement service. These are things that should be investigated and completed at some point, but might not cause any immediate failures.

The results feed into a standard output for the checks:

$ nova-status upgrade check
| Upgrade Check Results                              |
| Check: Cells v2                                    |
| Result: Success                                    |
| Details: None                                      |
| Check: Placement API                               |
| Result: Failure                                    |
| Details: There is no placement-api endpoint in the |
|          service catalog.                          |


  • How is the nova-status upgrade script packaged and deployed?

    There is a console_scripts entry for nova-status in the setup.cfg file.

  • Why are there multiple parts to the command structure, i.e. “upgrade” and “check”?

    This is an artifact of how the nova-manage command is structured which has categories of sub-commands, like nova-manage db is a sub-category made up of other sub-commands like nova-manage db sync. The nova-status upgrade check command was written in the same way for consistency and extensibility if other sub-commands need to be added later.

  • Why is the upgrade check command not part of the standard python-*client CLIs?

    The nova-status command was modeled after the nova-manage command which is meant to be admin-only and has direct access to the database, unlike other CLI packages like python-novaclient which requires a token and communicates with nova over the REST API. Because of this, it is also possible to write commands in nova-manage and nova-status that can work while the API service is down for maintenance.

  • How should the checks be documented?

    Each check should be documented in the history section of the CLI guide and have a release note. This is important since the checks can be run in an isolated environment apart from the actual deployed version of the code and since the checks should be idempotent, the history / change log is good for knowing what is being validated.

  • Do other projects support upgrade checks?

    A community-wide goal for the Stein release is adding the same type of $PROJECT-status upgrade check tooling to other projects to ease in upgrading OpenStack across the board. So while the guidelines in this document are primarily specific to nova, they should apply generically to other projects wishing to incorporate the same tooling.

  • Where should the documentation live for projects other than nova?

    As part of the standard OpenStack project documentation guidelines the command should be documented under doc/source/cli in each project repo.

  • Can upgrade checks be backported?

    Sometimes upgrade checks can be backported to aid in pre-empting bugs on stable branches. For example, a check was added for bug 1759316 in Rocky which was also backported to stable/queens in case anyone upgrading from Pike to Queens would hit the same issue. Backportable checks are generally only made for latent bugs since someone who has already passed checks and upgraded to a given stable branch should not start failing after a patch release on that same branch. For this reason, any check being backported should have a release note with it.

  • Can upgrade checks only be for N-1 to N version upgrades?

    No, not necessarily. The upgrade checks are also an essential part of fast-forward upgrades to make sure that as you roll through each release performing schema (data model) updates and data migrations that you are also completing all of the necessary changes. For example, if you are fast forward upgrading from Ocata to Rocky, something could have been added, deprecated or removed in Pike or Queens and a pre-upgrade check is a way to make sure the necessary steps were taking while upgrading through those releases before restarting the Rocky code at the end.