Cloud Orchestration FAQ

General

What is Cloud Orchestration?

Cloud Orchestration is a service that enables you to create, update, and manage groups of cloud resources and their software components as a single unit, and then deploy them in an automated, repeatable fashion through a template. Cloud Orchestration is based on the OpenStack Heat project. Our service runs upstream OpenStack Heat code with only a few slight modifications to ensure a positive customer experience on our cloud.

You can create, edit, update, and delete full stack configurations by using the Cloud Control Panel, the Cloud Orchestration API, or a command-line interface (CLI). The Cloud Control Panel has a Rackspace Templates area that provides access to pre-built templates. These templates incorporate industry best practices and enable you to quickly deploy specific application and platform stacks including WordPress, LAMP, and PHP.

The Cloud Orchestration API currently supports declaration and configuration of the following elements:

  • Cloud Servers
  • Cloud Load Balancers
  • Cloud Databases
  • Cloud Block Storage
  • Cloud DNS
  • Auto scaling
  • Bash scripts
  • Chef Cookbooks and Berkshelf

Can I access the Cloud Orchestration API using a command-line client?

Yes. While Rackspace does not currently provide a Rackspace-specific command-line client for Cloud Orchestration, we recommend that you use the open source Heat Python client developed by the OpenStack community. The Python Heat Client is compatible with Rackspace’s Cloud Orchestration Service. You can find instructions for obtaining and installing the command-line client in the Cloud Orchestration Getting Started Guide.

The Heat Python client provides command-line access to Cloud Orchestration API operations. We recommend that you use this client to run simple commands that make API calls. You can specify a --debug parameter on any command to show the underlying API request for the command. Using this parameter is a good way to become familiar with the API requests.

Can I access the Cloud Orchestration service through the Cloud Control Panel?

Yes. Use the following steps:

  1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel.
  2. In the top navigation bar, click Select a Product > Rackspace Cloud.
  3. Click Orchestration.

Is Cloud Orchestration a Platform as a Service (PaaS)?

No. Although Cloud Orchestration does contain much of the structure of a PaaS, it has additional transparency and control that a PaaS does not usually offer. Cloud Orchestration has capabilities similar to a PaaS, such as application launch on various platforms. However, it differs from a formal PaaS in that it deploys full instances of servers, load balancers, and databases. Cloud Orchestration gives you the additional control of knowing exactly what resources are used and what software is installed. Cloud Orchestration provides the convenience of automating the resource stack, and gives you full knowledge and additional control beyond what many PaaS solutions offer.


Billing and account

Is there a cost associated with the Cloud Orchestration service?

There is no cost for using the Cloud Orchestration service. However, infrastructure components such as cloud servers, cloud databases, and cloud load balancers that are used in a stack are billed at standard pricing.


Support

How do I recover application passwords?

Recovering passwords for applications is different from recovering server passwords. Some passwords might be available in configuration files or in databases on your server. Other passwords might need to be reset using a series of steps defined by that application vendor. To find the specific steps for resetting application or user passwords, check the documentation and FAQ from the application vendor. Remember that you might also need to change configured passwords in client or other applications that use the credentials that you are resetting.

How do I recover my server password?

After your stack has completed, you are provided with private keys and passwords for your cloud resources. To reset your server passwords, see Change your server root/admin password from your account.

How do I log in to my servers?

After your stack has completed, you are provided with the credentials for your servers. If you aren’t sure how to log in with those credentials, see Connect to a cloud server.

How do I access my application?

It depends on the application. After a stack is complete, you are provided with the necessary passwords, keys, and URLs to log in to your servers and newly deployed application.

Can I create a stack with different versions of an application?

We are working to add a number of common application templates to our catalog. There are thousands of different versions of applications, frameworks, databases, and support software. While we attempt to offer the latest versions, offering multiple versions of applications might not always be possible.

What do I do if an error occurs when creating a stack?

If you receive an error, you have the following options:

  • Delete the stack and start a new one. Trying again often results in a successful stack.
  • Submit a support ticket to get help with the error state. The support team can help you complete the stack.

What is the service level agreement for the Cloud Orchestration service?

Cloud Orchestration is a non-standard Rackspace service offered to customers as a convenience feature. The service interacts with an assortment of cloud resources and automates a large number of tasks. The number of tasks involved increases the risk of failure. We are aware of this risk and are continually working to improve success rates and build times for orchestration.

Due to the risk of failure, Rackspace does not provide a service level agreement (SLA) for Cloud Orchestration. Rackspace also does not guarantee successful completion of a stack within a specified period of time. Any stack that does not complete should be deleted to avoid possible usage fees. After the stack completes successfully, the SLA for the underlying cloud resources applies. Issues that occur after the stack completes should be directed to your support team.

Do I need my own domain?

It depends on the application that you want to run. Most templates require a domain name and provide an explanation of how the domain is used. In some cases, the domain name is used to set host names. In other cases, it is used to set up a web server and application to run from that domain. For web-based applications, it is best to use your own domain.

How do I enable monitoring on the servers?

For information about how to configure monitoring on the servers in your stack, see the Rackspace Monitoring FAQ.


Features

Does deleting a stack remove all of the underlying infrastructure?

Yes. Deleting a stack removes all of the servers, databases, load balancers, and other resources that were created when the stack was built. You no longer see any associated resources in the lists of servers, databases, and other resources.

Alternatively, you can choose to delete these resources individually through the Cloud Control Panel.

Warning: Deleting one or more of the resources within a stack will likely make the stack unstable and possibly inoperable.

Can the Cloud Orchestration service deploy a hybrid cloud or dedicated infrastructure?

Not at this time. Orchestration deploys only Rackspace Cloud resources. However, customers with RackConnect accounts can still use the Cloud Orchestration service to deploy cloud resources and then connect those resources to a hybrid environment.

Can a template be applied on top of an existing stack?

Yes. You can use the update stack operation in the Cloud Orchestration API to apply a template to an existing stack.

WARNING: If the template is unable to detect your existing software, it might rebuild all of the existing resources and cause you to lose your data. Back up your data before you begin this task.

Can a Rackspace template be installed on existing deployed infrastructure?

Yes. You can use the adopt stack operation in the Cloud Orchestration API to use existing cloud resources in a new stack.

Does the Cloud Orchestration service manage the stack after it has been created?

The Cloud Orchestration service does not include automatic maintenance of the stack, such as updating software. Depending on your managed service level, your support team can tell you how they can help you manage your stack.

How long does it take to create a stack?

The time that it takes to create a completed stack depends on several infrastructure services, as well as the level of traffic in a specific data center at the time of the build.

How do I know when the stack is complete?

All of the infrastructure resources show an active status, and the stack changes from yellow to green.

What are the different build states?

The Cloud Orchestration service has the following build states:

  • Build: The stack is currently deploying resources or configuring software.
  • Up: The deployment process was successful.
  • Error: The deployment process failed.

What happens during the build of a stack?

The following steps occur during the build of a stack:

  1. The Cloud Orchestration engine plans and executes a series of tasks that build and configure cloud resources.
  2. The applications are loaded and configured.
  3. The Cloud Orchestration service ensures that everything works as expected. If any issues occur during the build, the status is updated to reflect that there is an issue.

You can see the status of the stack and resources on the Stack page.


OpenStack

Can I reuse Heat templates that I created on Rackspace Cloud Orchestration on other OpenStack, Heat-based service offerings?

Yes. Because Rackspace Cloud Orchestration is based on OpenStack Heat, you can reuse templates on other OpenStack Heat-based offerings. However, there are some exceptions.

For example, templates that include Rackspace resources cannot be reused. Rackspace resources are resources that have names that begin with Rackspace. In addition, a template cannot be reused on an alternate OpenStack Heat service that is running older versions of the resources.

Does Cloud Orchestration support the CFN template format from Amazon?

Yes, but with some caveats. In order to support the CFN format, there are a variety of underlying compatibility tools that must be run on the service provider’s cloud.

Rackspace supports the CFN template format and is slowly adding support for individual resources. We currently support server and load balancer resources. However, if the existing CFN template contains syntax that invokes other resources, it needs to be tweaked before use. We encourage you to provide feedback and request new features, which helps us prioritize our roadmap.

Can I deploy my Heat template from another OpenStack service provider at Rackspace?

Yes. Because Rackspace Cloud Orchestration is based on OpenStack Heat, you can easily deploy your existing Heat template on Rackspace Cloud. However, the template must use resources that are in the Rackspace Cloud Orchestration Resource Reference.

You can obtain a current list of resources through a CLI.

Are there any differences between Cloud Orchestration and OpenStack Heat?

Yes. There are two main differences:

  1. We provide additional support for custom-defined Rackspace resources. While Cloud Orchestration is based on the OpenStack Heat project, each service provider running Heat can choose the cloud resource plug-ins they want to support. To provide customers with broad orchestration support for our public cloud, we run custom resource plug-ins that other service providers may choose not to run, or that may not be compatible with other service provider clouds. Templates that use these custom resources may need modification in order to work properly on other service provider installations or private OpenStack installations.

    Rackspace-specific resources are clearly marked in our documentation and begin with the word Rackspace. To obtain a full list of supported resource types, see the documentation for the list resources API operation.

    Note: The OS:Heat:ChefSolo resource in this list is a Rackspace-contributed resource that is incorrectly labeled as Heat. This will be corrected in subsequent updates.

  2. The Cloud Orchestration service’s version of Heat is often ahead of the official version of OpenStack. At Rackspace, we strive to provide our customers with reliable, community-developed Heat features as often as possible. However, in order to ensure a positive customer experience, our Cloud Orchestration service may at times run newer or older feature code than that developed by the open community. We do this because we employ test-driven development methodologies and automation that enable us to quickly deploy the latest and greatest features ahead of the official OpenStack six-month release cycle. We may lag in supporting an upstream feature in order to ensure that we appropriately test all of the scenarios that might affect our customers. Both Heat and our Cloud Orchestration service have versioned APIs and DSL syntax so that you can compare our service versions against other installations of Heat.


Software

What software does the template install?

The software that is installed is detailed in the Description column of the template selector. As part of your template configuration, you have the option to select the operating system and other software. All of the software and dependencies that are listed in the Description column are automatically installed. In some cases, you can specify additional software packages to install.

What if there’s a security vulnerability in the version of the software that the Cloud Orchestration service installs?

Cloud Orchestration typically installs software versions that are the most commonly used and that have the most popular features.

However, some software versions might have vulnerabilities. Although Rackspace does not intentionally offer software with known vulnerabilities, this situation might occur. You should always use appropriate security precautions when accessing and using any software, even when it is deployed through the Rackspace Cloud Orchestration service. Always update software versions when security vulnerabilities are identified by the application provider or community.

Does Rackspace support the software that is installed through the Orchestration service?

Rackspace supports the stack at the system level with the Managed Operations Service Level of support. Only the software in our Linux Spheres of Support for Dedicated and Managed Operations is supported. Software installed on top of a web server or database server is not directly supported. (Some examples of this type of software are WordPress and Drupal.) However, the underlying system, web server, and database server are supported.

The underlying structure of the stack is supported at all service levels.

Where are the license files or the general public license for the installed software?

These licenses are installed on the server where the software is installed. The location varies depending on the software.


Templates

What is a Cloud Orchestration template?

A Cloud Orchestration template is a text file that declares the resources that you want to include as part of a stack and how to configure those resources, including references to any installation scripts or software configuration management artifacts that are needed to install the appropriate applications. Templates are written using the Heat Orchestration Template (HOT) syntax, which is written in YAML. For documentation on how to write templates, see the Rackspace Cloud Orchestration templates user guide.

How are Cloud Orchestration templates different from Chef or Puppet?

Cloud Orchestration is not a replacement for server configuration tools such as Puppet and Chef. Cloud Orchestration complements these tools. You continue to use Chef and Puppet to create templates for your server software configurations, while Cloud Orchestration templates help you create a full stack that includes all of the infrastructure resources that your stack requires. Cloud Orchestration enables you to quickly bootstrap your preferred software configuration management solution onto your servers. With Chef, we have gone several steps further to provide direct support to specify the cookbooks and Berksfile that you want to deploy.

Where can I find example templates for Cloud Orchestration?

For Cloud Orchestration template examples, see the Rackspace Orchestration Templates organization on GitHub.

What’s the difference between Rackspace templates and Custom Templates?

The Cloud Orchestration service enables you to deploy your own custom templates or leverage pre-built and pre-tested templates.

Use the following steps to use your own template:

  1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel.
  2. In the top navigation bar, click Select a Product > Rackspace Cloud.
  3. Click Orchestration > Custom Template.
  4. To save time and effort and take advantage of industry best practices, go to Orchestration > Stack Templates.

The pre-built and pre-tested templates in this area enable you to quickly spin up fully-configured stacks. The templates orchestrate the requisite cloud resources and perform initial software configuration.

Which Rackspace template should I choose?

The Orchestration service enables you to select the template that is appropriate for your needs. Each template has a simple description or flavor, as well as a detailed description that you can access when you select a template in the Cloud Control Panel. The following guidelines help you select the right type of stack:

  • Single-server template: This template offers all-in-one orchestration in which the database, application, and all other resources are on the same compute instance. Single-server orchestration is useful for testing and other low-traffic situations where there is no intention of increasing capacity. If you think you need greater capacity, then deploy a load-balanced, multi-server template with a dedicated back-end database instead. Some applications are not available with the single-server template.
  • Multiple-server template: This template offers orchestration that is based on a multiple-tier architecture. Multiple-server templates generally include load-balanced servers and a dedicated back-end database service. Multiple-server templates are ready for production traffic and scale more easily.
  • Rackspace Cloud Databases or Cloud Servers with MySQL: This back-end choice is based on your needs. Cloud Databases offers a consistently high level of performance. However, Cloud Databases does not currently offer replication or automated backups. Both of these features are currently in development.