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OpenStack Ironic provides new possibilities in bare-metal provisioning

Ironic will make physical servers as easy to provision as virtual machines.

The Ironic project within OpenStack may change how bare-metal provisioning works. By providing a new set of APIs, Ironic could make physical servers as easy to provision as virtual machines.

Ironic is the evolution of the bare-metal provisioning driver that was first added in the OpenStack Grizzly release. OpenStack engineer Russell Bryant explained that Ironic is designed to become a separate implementation of that driver, with functionality that is distinct from that of the Nova API. The OpenStack Technical Committee approved Ironic last May, and once completed, the feature would allow for API communication between Nova and Ironic.

In a guest post for VentureBeat, AMD vice president Young-Sae Song explained that the Ironic would fulfill an acute enterprise need for additional flexibility when working with dedicated servers. For example, many organizations have gravitated toward single-tenant hardware in order to meet high requirements for cloud storage, computing and security.

Large vendors have been observing this trend, with IBM acquiring infrastructure-as-a-service provider SoftLayer in June. IBM intended for SoftLayer to become a core component of its new Cloud Services division.

Moreover, the interest in SoftLayer underscores the ongoing need for single-tenant hardware. Many organizations are not ready to move to public or even hybrid infrastructure yet. Accordingly, it makes sense for OpenStack and software vendors to address the bare-metal space.

"For service providers, bare-metal products allow for higher performance [service-level agreements] without concerns that other virtual machines may lead to server-wide performance degradation," wrote Song. "Bare-metal provisioning provides a win-win situation for customers looking for increased performance and security benefits afforded by dedicated hardware, and service providers who can offer premium SLAs."

Song also noted that Ironic would allow providers to integrate bare-metal provisioning without disrupting the existing software infrastructure of their offerings.