An action is an abstraction of some logic that can be executed by a worker thread. Most of the operations supported by Senlin are executed asynchronously, which means they are queued into database and then picked up by certain worker thread for execution.

Currently, Senlin only supports builtin actions listed below. In future, we may evolve to support user-defined actions (UDAs). A user-defined action may carry a Shell script to be executed on a target Nova server, or a Heat SoftwareConfig to be deployed on a stack, for example. The following builtin actions are supported at the time of this design:

  • CLUSTER_CREATE: An action for creating a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_DELETE: An action for deleting a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_UPDATE: An action for updating a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_ADD_NODES: An action for adding existing nodes to a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_DEL_NODES: An action for removing nodes from a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_REPLACE_NODES: An action for replacing nodes in a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_RESIZE: An action for adjusting the size of a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_SCALE_IN: An action to shrink the size of a cluster by removing nodes from the cluster;

  • CLUSTER_SCALE_OUT: An action to extend the size of a cluster by creating new nodes using the profile_id of the cluster;

  • CLUSTER_ATTACH_POLICY: An action to attach a policy to a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_DETACH_POLICY: An action to detach a policy from a cluster;

  • CLUSTER_UPDATE_POLICY: An action to update the properties of a binding between a cluster and a policy;

  • CLUSTER_CHECK: An action for checking a cluster and execute NODE_CHECK for all its nodes;

  • CLUSTER_RECOVER: An action for recovering a cluster and execute NODE_RECOVER for all the nodes in ‘ERROR’ status;

  • NODE_CREATE: An action for creating a new node;

  • NODE_DELETE: An action for deleting an existing node;

  • NODE_UPDATE: An action for updating the properties of an existing node;

  • NODE_JOIN: An action for joining a node to an existing cluster;

  • NODE_LEAVE: An action for a node to leave its current owning cluster;

  • NODE_CHECK: An action for checking a node to see if its physical node is ‘ACTIVE’ and update its status with ‘ERROR’ if not;

  • NODE_RECOVER: An action for recovering a node;

Action Properties

An action has the following properties when created:

  • id: a globally unique ID for the action object;

  • name: a string representation of the action name which might be generated automatically for actions derived from other operations;

  • context: a dictionary that contains the calling context that will be used by the engine when executing the action. Contents in this dictionary may contain sensitive information such as user credentials.

  • action: a text property that contains the action body to be executed. Currently, this property only contains the name of a builtin action. In future, we will provide a structured definition of action for UDAs.

  • target: the UUID of an object (e.g. a cluster, a node or a policy) to be operated;

  • cause: a string indicating the reason why this action was created. The purpose of this property is for the engine to check whether a new lock should be acquired before operating an object. Valid values for this property include:

    • RPC Request: this indicates that the action was created upon receiving a RPC request from Senlin API, which means a lock is likely needed;

    • Derived Action: this indicates that the action was created internally as part of the execution path of another action, which means a lock might have been acquired;

  • owner: the UUID of a worker thread that currently “owns” this action and is responsible for executing it.

  • interval: the interval (in seconds) for repetitive actions, a value of 0 means that the action won’t be repeated;

  • start_time: timestamp when the action was last started. This field is provided for action execution timeout detection;

  • stop_time: timestamp when the action was stopped. This field is provided for measuring the execution time of an action;

  • timeout: timeout (in seconds) for the action execution. A value of 0 means that the action does not have a customized timeout constraint, though it may still have to honor the system wide default_action_timeout setting.

  • status: a string representation of the current status of the action. See subsection below for detailed status definitions.

  • status_reason: a string describing the reason that has led the action to its current status.

  • control: a string for holding the pending signals such as CANCEL, SUSPEND or RESUME.

  • inputs: a dictionary that provides inputs to the action when executed;

  • outputs: a dictionary that captures the outputs (including error messages) from the action execution;

  • depends_on: a UUID list for the actions that must be successfully completed before the current action becomes READY. An action cannot become READY when this property is not an empty string.

  • depended_by: a UUID list for the actions that depends on the successful completion of current action. When the current action is completed with a success, the actions listed in this property will get notified.

  • created_at: the timestamp when the action was created;

  • updated_at: the timestamp when the action was last updated;

TODO: Add support for scheduled action execution.

NOTE: The default value of the default_action_timeout is 3600 seconds.

The Action Data Property

An action object has a property named data which is used for saving policy decisions. This property is a Python dict for different policies to save and exchange policy decision data.

Suppose we have a scaling policy, a deletion policy and a load-balancing policy attached to the same cluster. By design, when an CLUSTER_SCALE_IN action is picked up for execution, the following sequence will happen:

  1. When the action is about to be executed, the worker thread checks all policies that have registered a “pre_op” on this action type.

  2. Based on the built-in priority setting, the “pre_op” of the scaling policy is invoked, and the policy determines the number of nodes to be deleted. This decision is saved to the action’s data property in the following format:

"deletion": {
  "count": 2
  1. Based on the built-in priority setting, the deletion policy is evaluated next. When the “pre_op” method of the deletion policy is invoked, it first checks the data property of the action where it finds out the number of nodes to delete. Then it will calculate the list of candidates to be deleted using its selection criteria (e.g. OLDEST_FIRST). Finally, it saves the list of candidate nodes to be deleted to the data property of the action, in the following format:

"deletion": {
  "count": 2,
  "candidates": ["1234-4567-9900", "3232-5656-1111"]
  1. According to the built-in priority setting, the load-balancing policy is evaluated last. When invoked, its “pre_op” method checks the data property of the action and finds out the candidate nodes to be removed from the cluster. With this information, the method removes the nodes from the load-balancer maintained by the policy.

  2. The action’s execute() method is now invoked and it removes the nodes as given in its data property, updates the cluster’s last update timestamp, then returns.

From the example above, we can see that the data property of an action plays a critical role in policy checking and enforcement. To avoid losing of the in-memory data content during service restart, Senlin persists the content to database whenever it is changed.

Note that there are policies that will write to the data property of a node for a similar reason. For example, a placement policy may decide where a new node should be created. This information is saved into the data property of a node. When a profile is about to create a node, it is supposed to check this property and enforce it. For a Nova server profile, this means that the profile code will inject scheduler_hints to the server instance before it is created.

Action Statuses

An action can be in one of the following statuses during its lifetime:

  • INIT: Action object is being initialized, not ready for execution;

  • READY: Action object can be picked up by any worker thread for execution;

  • WAITING: Action object has dependencies on other actions, it may become READY only when the dependents are all completed with successes;

  • WAITING_LIFECYCLE_COMPLETION: Action object is a node deletion that is awaiting lifecycle completion. It will become READY when complete lifecycle API is called or the lifecycle hook timeout in deletion policy is reached.

  • RUNNING: Action object is being executed by a worker thread;

  • SUSPENDED: Action object is suspended during execution, so the only way to put it back to RUNNING status is to send it a RESUME signal;

  • SUCCEEDED: Action object has completed execution with a success;

  • FAILED: Action object execution has been aborted due to failures;

  • CANCELLED: Action object execution has been aborted due to a CANCEL signal.

Collectively, the SUCCEEDED, FAILED and CANCELLED statuses are all valid action completion status.

The execute() Method and Return Values

Each subclass of the base Action must provide an implementation of the execute() method which provides the actual logic to be invoked by the generic action execution framework.

Senlin defines a protocol for the execution of actions. The execute() method should always return a tuple <RES>, <REASON> where the <RES> indicates whether the action procedure execution was successful and the <REASON> provides an explanation of the result, e.g. the error message when the execution has failed. In this protocol, the action procedure can return one of the following values:

  • OK: the action execution was a complete success;

  • ERROR: the action execution has failed with error messages;

  • RETRY: the action execution has encountered some resource competition situation, so the recommendation is to re-start the action if possible;

  • CANCEL: the action has received a CANCEL signal and thus has aborted its execution;

  • TIMEOUT: the action has detected a timeout error when performing some time consuming jobs.

When the return value is OK, the action status will be set to SUCCEEDED; when the return value is ERROR or TIMEOUT, the action status will be set to FAILED; when the return value is CANCEL, the action status will be set to CANCELLED; finally, when the return value is RETRY, the action status is reset to READY, and the current worker thread will release its lock on the action so that other threads can pick it up when resources permit.

Creating An Action

Currently, Senlin actions are mostly generated from within the Senlin engine, either due to a RPC request, or due to another action’s execution.

In future, Senlin plans to support user-defined actions (UDAs). Senlin API will provide API for creating an UDA and invoking an action which can be an UDA.

Listing Actions

Senlin provides an action_list API for users to query the action objects in the Senlin database. Such a query request can be accompanied with the following query parameters in the query string:

  • filters: a map that will be used for filtering out records that fail to match the criteria. The recognizable keys in the map include:

    • name: the name of the actions where the value can be a string or a list of strings;

    • target: the UUID of the object targeted by the action where the value can be a string or a list of strings;

    • action: the builtin action for matching where the value can be a string or a list of strings;

  • limit: a number that restricts the maximum number of action records to be returned from the query. It is useful for displaying the records in pages where the page size can be specified as the limit.

  • marker: A string that represents the last seen UUID of actions in previous queries. This query will only return results appearing after the specified UUID. This is useful for displaying records in pages.

  • sort: A string to enforce sorting of the results. It accepts a list of known property names of an action as sorting keys separated by commas. Each sorting key can optionally have either :asc or :desc appended to the key for controlling the sorting direction.

Getting An Action

Senlin API provides the action_show API call for software or a user to retrieve a specific action for examining its details. When such a query arrives at the Senlin engine, the engine will search the database for the action_id specified.

User can provide the UUID, the name or the short ID of an action as the action_id for query. The Senlin engine will try each of them in sequence. When more than one action matches the criteria, an error message is returned to user, or else the details of the action object is returned.

Signaling An Action

When an action is in RUNNING status, a user can send signals to it. A signal is actually a word that will be written into the control field of the action table in the database.

When an action is capable of handling signals, it is supposed to check its control field in the DB table regularly and abort execution in a graceful way. An action has the freedom to check or ignore these signals. In other words, Senlin cannot guarantee that a signal will have effect on any action.

The currently supported signal words are:

  • CANCEL: this word indicates that the target action should cancel its execution and return when possible;

  • SUSPEND: this word indicates that the target action should suspend its execution when possible. The action doesn’t have to return. As an alternative, it can sleep waiting on a RESUME signal to continue its work;

  • RESUME: this word indicates that the target action, if suspended, should resume its execution.

The support to SUSPEND and RESUME signals are still under development.