Friday, 17th September 2021
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Airship 2.0 arrives

All-new control plane in Airship 2.0 is built on Kubernetes, with cluster API multi-cloud provisioning and other cloud-native tools; Helm 3 and the Flux Helm Controller are integrated, offering better security posture.

Airship, an interoperable set of open source software tools used to declaratively automate cloud provisioning, is available in version 2.0 today. Airship 2.0 delivers enhanced document management capabilities, an improved upgrade process using cloud-native tools, and the ability for operators to use the same workflow to manage their workloads on both bare-metal and public clouds. These enhancements enable faster deployments, a smaller control plane, the ability for Airship to deploy native Kubernetes resources, and better security.

Airship 2.0 integrates best-in-breed open source projects into a platform that transforms declarative YAMLs into ready-to-go open infrastructure, taking care of things like bare metal provisioning, security and network policy, and day 2 lifecycle management. Airship 2.0’s declarative model ensures predictability, repeatability and resiliency across sites and across upgrades, which is why AT&T is running Airship in production at scale.

AT&T’s 5G network runs on its 100% containerized, private network OpenStack cloud, deployed and managed by Airship. Using Airship, AT&T has been able to replicate its 5G infrastructure rapidly across dozens of regions. Furthermore, this architecture supports AT&T’s “evolved packet core” network and VNF teaming, enabling resilient mobile sessions. (See a keynote by AT&T demonstrating how Airship enables mobile communication sessions to continue even when the VM carrying the session is shut down.) Other companies with production use cases of Airship include Ericsson and SK Telecom.

“Airship 2.0 takes advantage of many of the good things that have been happening in the Kubernetes ecosystem,” said Matt McEuen, lead member of the technical staff for Network Cloud at AT&T and a working committee member of the Airship community. “Airship 2.0 gives operators the ability to consistently specify and control deployments across bare metal, public clouds, OpenStack and other kinds of use cases. It also deploys sites faster and with smaller footprints. In Airship 2.0 we’ve created a web-based UI that can be used to introspect a site and drive deployments and upgrades.”

“AT&T’s initial Airship 2.0 deployments will host centralized functions that support its 5G Containerized Network Function infrastructure,” continued McEuen. “These new cloud-native workloads will benefit from Airship 2.0’s close integration of CNCF technologies and its predictable and repeatable lifecycle management.”

Key Features of Airship 2.0

  • Enhanced document management capabilities. Using the Airship 2.0 command-line-interface, airshipctl, operators can organize and deliver YAML documents that describe an Airship 2.0 region with phases (logical groups of functionality that are the building blocks of a site). Airshipctl renders phases with Kustomize, a tool that has been widely adopted by the Kubernetes community. Using Kustomize with airshipctl, operators can keep their YAML footprint small with advanced manipulation tools that reduce data duplication.
  • Improvements to the Airship upgrade process. Cloud-native tools such as the Baremetal Operator with Metal3 and Ironic, Kubeadm, and Kustomize have replaced the Airship 1 control plane. In Airship 2.0, operators can drive upgrades using Airshipctl and let Kubernetes handle the rest—the core Airship components are ephemeral and live outside the control plane.
  • Support for public cloud providers. With Airship 2.0, operators can now use the same workflow to manage their workloads on bare-metal as well as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, AWS, and OpenStack public clouds. Companies with growing requirements can rely on Airship for consistent deployment and management of workloads on Kubernetes, knowing that OpenDev and third-party continuous-integration validate these integration points.

Additional features include:

  • No-touch, remote-site bootstrap
  • Declarative image building
    • Support for declarative ephemeral ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
    • Support for declarative bare-metal-targeted QCOWs [“QEMU Copy On Write” is a file format for disk image files used by QEMU (short for “quick emulator”), a hosted virtual machine monitor.]
  • Declarative cluster lifecycle
  • Lifecycle as phases
  • Introduction of a plan for the phases
  • Seamless integration with security plugins like Mozilla SOPS
  • Generic container interface, a mechanism to extend airshipctl with adhoc functionality
  • Introduction of Host Config Operator for day 2 operations
  • Helm 3 and the Flux Helm Controller are integrated, offering better security posture.
  • Designated as a Certified Kubernetes Distribution through the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s Software Conformance Program, guaranteeing that Airship provides a consistent installation of Kubernetes, supports the latest Kubernetes versions, and provides a portable cloud-native environment with other Certified Platforms.

The integrated open source components doing the heavy lifting in Airship 2.0 are substantially different than those in Airship 1.0, as described by Jeff Collins, cloud and NFVI director at Ericsson, at the Open Infrastructure Summit.

”The updates with Metal3 and Ironic, along with other tool sets have streamlined the lifecycle management process. The cross-platform capabilities with the Kubernetes Cluster API allow for a consistent deployment every time,” said Collins.

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