On 25.10.2012 22:32, Hugh Brock wrote:
On Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 07:30:55PM +0200, Jaromír Coufal wrote:
[many worthy ideas snipped]
> In Winked Monkey, as I found out, there is not even counted with
> these necessary steps (talking about steps 1 and 2). Adding these
> features, we are slowly going to lighter version of Conductor.
> What I really like about Winked Monkey is, that we started to think
> about UI from different point of view and started to care just about
> users who are running images. Which definitely can inspire and help
> us to improve UX.
> Another value I see in Winked Monkey project is, that we will
> approach broader audience and community of users - those having just
> few images across different providers.
> But my question is, if this segment of users is big enough? Because
> from my point of view, being individual (or small company) running
> just few instances, I am usually choosing one provider and running
> all instances there - in this case I would not search for
> application unifying UI for running instances.
> (maybe I am wrong on this one)
> Having talks about this particular type of users and creating
> muck-ups for their use-cases is definitely valuable for us. I feel,
> and I am sorry to express my worries, that having stand-alone
> application as Winked Monkey is (especially implementation and
> maintenance) would consume lot of effort and resources. I think,
> that we can achieve similar result with improving Conductor for less
Thanks so much for spending so much time thinking about this
Jarda. I think your analysis of the details is accurate, but I'm going
to dispute the conclusion you come to by taking a big step backward to
look at the whole picture of Aeolus.
(This is going to be a major topic of conversation in our meetings in
Brno week after next I hope.)
How will we know Aeolus is successful as a project? What are its goals?
I believe the goal of Aeolus has always been to make *all* cross-cloud
operations as easy as using a single cloud, to the extent that it is
possible to do so. I believe this is a worthy goal, because proprietary
cloud APIs and tools are as dangerous as the proprietary compilers of
the 1980s that inspired the free software movement. I believe we have
made good progress toward this goal although we have a long way to go
I agree. What I like on this point is that you mentioned *as easy as
using one cloud*. It evokes in me, that it should be *easy to use* and
what I am a little bit feeling from previous conversations in this
thread is that lot of us take Conductor as administrative tool, which is
supposed to be difficult to use and difficult for non-technical user to
understand it. And I think this is one part, where I disagree, because I
think it doesn't have to be this way and we can make it user-friendly
for normal users as well.
I believe we will know Aeolus is successful when we Red Hat folks
comprise less than 50% of the developer community, and when we (Red Hat
Inc.) have to have significant arguments with that community in order
to get features in that we want in our productized version of it. By
this measure Aeolus has made 0 progress toward being successful in its
I have to agree. What I think that can be one of the biggest problems
worse usability for users (technical, non-technical, doesn't metter). We
have great functionality, but users are not aware of it, because it's
hard for them to get oriented in our system - it's too complex and by
growing, it lost some nice structure. I hope that getting it more
user-friendly and more clear what it does (breaking into parts?), will
improve our ratings :)
Finally, I believe that unless Aeolus is successful upstream, it
eventually fail as a product or be absorbed into something else. I
believe the clock for this is ticking. We have no time to lose, in other
I think, there is potential for Aeolus to be successful as a product.
So, how can we build a user and developer community from the ground
around a problem space as esoteric as "save the world from cloud
This is hard work but there are certain lessons we can learn from other
community projects that are successful. I'll take OpenStack as a model
here; although it, too, is far from perfect, it is by any measure a
successful upstream project.
Lesson 1: A single upstream project should do one thing,
well. Deltacloud is actually a good example of this; it has profited by
limiting itself to a stateless cloud API. Most of the OpenStack
services -- Glance, Swift, Cinder, Nova, Quantum -- also conform to this
principle. Heat has also explicitly tried to limit itself to one key
feature -- manage multi-tier applications on OpenStack -- with
Lesson 2: Build things in small pieces that a single developer can
understand without too much effort. Our community will, in the end, be
built by interested developers who find a piece of what we're doing
valuable to something they're doing. We may at times finding ourselves
doing *more work* to keep things small. This is a perfectly reasonable
cost for the benefit we will derive from upstream adoption.
Lesson 2b: Keep project teams small. If a project is complex enough that
it needs more than three developers to make forward progress in it, it
will soon be incomprehensible to outsiders, thereby failing Lesson 2.
reasonable and very good point. There might be a small danger in
this approach is, that we might get locked in development of umbrella
project (Aeolus) by waiting on dependencies of small sub-projects (one
team waiting for the other one). So I just want to say, that we should
be aware of this fact and take it into account for our cooperation if
this is the case.
Lesson 3: The umbrella project for a set of individual projects
have good, open governance, in which not just coding standards and API
styles but also the overall project goals and metrics are agreed by a
committee in an open process that has at least some degree of
formality. In other words, it should be possible to debate the structure
of an API, put it to a vote, and have it be a settled question from
thereon. Otherwise the individual projects under the umbrella will fail
Lessons 1 and 2.
Lesson 4: The umbrella project must itself have a compelling goal that
gets people excited and is easily understood. OpenStack is a
free-software reimplementation of EC2. Everybody wants private cloud and
everybody wants to not be locked in, so OpenStack is really
compelling. (Note Aeolus has quite similar goals, just on a meta-cloud
Lesson 5: The umbrella project has to get talked about at a lot of
conferences by a lot of different people.
In conclusion all 5 lessons are very
reasonable and I like it.
Now, let's measure the current state of Aeolus against these
where Aeolus (for the sake of argument) is comprised of Deltacloud,
Image Factory/Oz, Audrey, Conductor, and recent arrivals Alberich and
Deltacloud largely succeeds across all of the lessons above, which may
explain why it is one of two Aeolus projects (with Oz being the other
one) that has gotten significant traction upstream.
Image Factory does well on goals 1 and 2, although it has suffered by
being tied to an Image Warehouse tool that no one really understands the
Oz has in fact gotten a lot of interest upstream although as far as I
know it hasn't drawn too many actual contributions. But it certainly
does well on goals 1 and 2 -- it does one thing well, and it's certainly
small enough that a single developer can easily grasp it.
Tim is a bit too early to rate, but it appears to pass lessons 1 and 2,
as does Alberich.
Audrey is also small, but it suffers from being directly tied to
Conductor, so in a sense it fails lesson 1 by doing nothing at all on
Now... let's take a look at Conductor. Conductor:
* Provides a UI for building and pushing images and wrapping them in
* Provides a UI for launching deployables and setting launchtime
parameters for them
* Provides a UI for managing deployables and instances while they are
running and tracking them over time
* Provides the back end facilities for doing the launching itself,
handling failures and exceptions, and actually setting the config
values post launch
* Provides an extensive and complex "matching" mechanism that, given a
user's privileges, the requirements of the application being launched,
the relative weight of the particular cloud providers that are
available to launch on, and the user's quota on each provider, will
choose a suitable cloud provider to launch on
* Provides all the UI required to manage the inputs to the matching
* Provides full RBAC services for all of the entities in the system
* Provides a UI for managing the RBAC system
* Provides an event logging facility so that users can retrieve and
track instance lifecycle events
* Provides graphs of the event logs
Clearly Conductor fails lesson 1. With more than 50 model classes and at
least one pair of controllers that actually do the same thing, it also
fails lesson 2.
Yes, Conductor is very complex. Breaking into parts is good idea.
parts need to be consistent and cooperative. What I see Conductor can
do, is to split into modules. Question is about which granularity to choose.
Haven't thought about it, but we can have modules of UI for managing:
It's very brief list of logical parts from my UI point of view, there
might be lot of other ones.
Then Conductor itself should join modules and ensure their cooperation.
Finally, let's look at the umbrella project, Aeolus. Aeolus
fails lesson 3 because historically *I* have provided the governance
with my mighty ><}}}*>. While I find this method of governance quite
satisfying, I am forced to admit that it neither scales nor works for an
upstream project where there might be people who do not work for
me. Sigh. (Scales, get it? The ><}}}*> doesn't *scale*. I kill me!)
Does Aeolus pass Lesson 4? If not, we should all hang it up and go do
something else. Fortunately, I think Aeolus does pass lesson 4,
handily. I think there is real need for a set of cross-cloud tools, from
small shops that have nothing but an EC2 account and a few in-house
machines running VMWare, to individual developers who want to launch a
multi-tier app on whatever the cheapest public cloud happens to be at
the time, to larger organizations that want to provide a fully managed
self-service environment to internal users. I think Aeolus is well
positioned to fill this need, and I've seen other closed source tools
that do so I'm confident the need is real.
So am I.
What about lesson 5? We have tried to make some headway here but
not done well at coming up with a good community marketing plan and
sticking with it. My hope is that improving our score on lesson 3 will
help with this.
So, where does this leave us?
1. We need to fix the governance. This means that you folks, the Aeolus
developers, need to figure out what model we are going to follow for
making architectural decisions, API decisions, coding style decisions,
and so on, put it in place, and stick to it. I would suggest that that
model be more sophisticated than "argue about it on the mailing list and
never come to a conclusion," which is what we've done to date.
I have to
admit, that sometimes I feel, that there are lot of
discussions on mailing lists (or GitHub issues, or IRC) and there is no
output from that. One approach to improve can be:
1) introduce intentions on some call (very briefly - just introduction)
- people are aware
2) send some RFC, give some time for discussions, spreading ideas and
let people think about that a little bit more - brainstorming of ideas,
3) people who are interested in involving should meet at rounded table
(call) and have moderated discussion, so the discussion leads to some
result, which in the best case we should get in the end of meeting -
having conclusion, starting implementation
It doesn't have to be perfect - nothing is. We can start in some way
(which seems to be the best for us) and we can adapt regarding
situations. But we need to start to be active and not just wait on some
"natural" conclusion on mailing list.
2. Once we've fixed the governance, I believe we need to fix
and I believe that fixing Conductor requires breaking it into individual
pieces that do one thing, well. One set of suggestions for those pieces,
which you may or may not agree with, is the following:
* A standalone self-service portal (i.e. Winged Monkey). Provides
management of single instances or n-tier apps. Will work all by itself
in front of rhev-m, openstack, vsphere, ec2, rackspace, or will work
connecting to Heat connected to one of those things, or will work
connected to Conductor. Appeals just as much to the individual
developer or guy-with-a-webapp as to the corporation with
self-service users connecting to Conductor pools.
* A standalone catalog manager service. Provides API to retrieve deployables,
resolve the templates they require into actual build images (via
querying Tim presumably), answer the question "what can I launch on
* A standalone app design/catalog manager UI that would provide the app
designer a GUI for Tim and the catalog manager
* A launching/state tracking mechanism -- i.e. Heat. Takes a
CloudFormations template and launches it on a given cloud. Tracks the
state of the instances in the template and manages failures
appropriately (by restarting, auto-scaling, etc.)
* An event tracking service. Provides up-to-date views into instance and
app events collected over time via an API. Clients would include
Winged Monkey and other sophisticated reporting services.
* A cloud abstraction layer or "synthetic cloud" provider (the real meat
of Conductor). Given configuration input by an admin, aggregates a set
of cloud accounts and providers into a single cloud that it presents
to the user via an API. Allows admins to shape provided clouds
according to cost and resource needs, provider track record
("quality"), quota, other factors.
* Other thin UI layers as appropriate. I would prefer to see us move to
the pattern OpenStack and OpenShift and Katello (to some extent) are
using here, which is a set of services that provide APIs only
(probably REST but I don't really care to be honest) and a stateless
UI layer in front -- model code, sure, but no access to storage other
than via the constituent projects that make up the back end. (This is
another reason we need better governance.)
Ah, I see, you already have a list
into which parts to break Conductor
:) Few lines above, I wrote some list of Conductor components as well,
but mine is more logical grouping than functional components.
(Note I've left out Alberich here, not because I don't think
important but because it's more of a building block that all of these
services might use to implement their own authorization schema. There
will be other things in Conductor that fall into the same category.)
This is, more or less, the list of things that Conductor does. No wonder
it has 50+ model classes...
Now, the above is just my list. I think it's a pretty good list, and
I've thought about it a lot, but it is not a mandate (see Lesson 3). You
can see though that the reasons for doing something like Winged Monkey
go way beyond the merits of Winged Monkey itself, or any kind of
WM-vs-Conductor contest. WM is much more tied to the idea of let's make
Aeolus a great upstream project by taking the bits that might be useful
on their own and making them available for use. I think it's tough to
argue with this approach, frankly.
I have absolutely nothing against splitting
Conductor into parts. I am
on the same page with you on this.
About Winked Monkey, I think that it is great to have separate module
for this functionality, it definitely is. What I am worried about is,
that we take part of Conductor, start to duplicate it as an stand-alone
project - new UI, new models, etc. But development of the same
components in Conductor will continue. When time comes, we take Winked
Monkey, use it in Conductor by throwing away the components which we
were trying to improve during Winked Monkey development process? Maybe I
understand it wrong way. But that's the core of my worries - duplicating
work and one of the results will be thrown away.
Well... that's a lot of writing for a Thursday afternoon. If
it this far, please, let me know if you think I'm nuts or if you have a
better list of discrete Conductor components. Also, proposals for
governance models are encouraged...
Thank you for this very detailed explanation of your thoughts, Hugh. I
have nothing to disagree directly, all my responses are above. Regarding
lessons - I didn't know them before, from my point of view, they
describe situation nicely. Happy to learn something new :)