“Originally, what took a day or even weeks, now takes half an hour to one hour.”


The OpenStack Foundation announced in April 2019 that its Ironic software is powering millions of cores of compute all over the world, turning bare metal into automated infrastructure ready for today’s mix of virtualized and containerized workloads.

Over 30 organizations joined for the initial launch of the OpenStack Ironic Bare Metal Program, and Superuser is running a series of case studies to explore how people are using it.

China Mobile is a leading telecommunications services provider in mainland China. The Group provides full communications services in all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and directly-administered municipalities throughout Mainland China and in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

In 2018, the company was again selected as one of “The World’s 2,000 Biggest Public Companies” by Forbes magazine and Fortune Global 500 (100) by Fortune magazine, and recognized for three consecutive years in the global carbon disclosure project CDP’s 2018 Climate A List as the first and only company from Mainland China.

Why did you select OpenStack Ironic for bare metal provisioning in your product?

China Mobile has a large number of businesses running on various types of architectures such as x86 and power servers, which provide high quality services to our business and customers. This large number continues to increase every year by more than 100,000. Recently we have built several cloud solutions based on OpenStack as Gold Members of the OpenStack Foundation. Therefore, our public cloud and private cloud solutions are compatible with OpenStack. Ironic focuses on the compute, storage and network resources that are matched with OpenStack, which is the core requirement of China Mobile’s bare metal cloud.

In addition, China Mobile’s physical IaaS solution has multiple types of vendor hardware and solutions. By OpenStack Ironic’s improved architecture design and rich plug-in commits, we can learn from reliable experiences from the community during building our service process.

What was your solution before implementing Ironic?

Before the promotion of Ironic, the best automation method we used was the PXE + ISO + kickstart to achieve the relevant requirements. Due to its limitations in the network, storage and even operating system compatibility, we would manually manipulate all the processes in it. At the same time, due to the lack of relevant service data at the management level, workflow data could not be recorded well nor transferred in the course of work, reducing the delivery efficiency greatly.

What benefits does Ironic provide your users?

The biggest benefit of Ironic for us or our users is it can increase the efficiency of server delivery. Originally what took a day or even weeks, now takes half an hour to one hour. Based on Ironic, users can choose more operating systems they need, even on arm-linux. The network resources they wanted, such as Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Load Balancer (LB), Firewall (FW) which can be freely configured through the combination of Ironic and Neutron. The same as Ironic and Cinder, the combination can provide users with Boot From Volume (BFV) and other disk array management or configuration capabilities. In short, through Ironic, we can deliver a complete compute, network and storage server through a top-down process without the operation and maintenance or user-responsible information synchronization and manual configuration.

With Ironic, we built a platform for data center administrators to redefine the access standards of the different hardware they manage. By this, all hardware vendors should comply with the management and data transmission protocol or they should be pushing the plug-in to OpenStack. Then, for administrators, they can focus on management and user serve.

For China Mobile, hardware management or server os delivery sometimes is not enough. We are extending our bare metal cloud to support applications integrated by OpenStack Mistral and Ansible. All in all, we are continuously improving the ecology from Ironic to save our users time.

What feedback do you have to provide to the upstream OpenStack Ironic team?

We hope that Ironic has an operating system agent solution, like qemu guest agent.

Learn more

You’ll find an overview of Ironic on the project Wiki. Discussion of the project takes place in #openstack-ironic on irc.freenode.net. This is a great place to jump in and start your Ironic adventure. The channel is very welcoming to new users – no question is a wrong question!

The team also holds one-hour weekly meetings at 1500 UTC on Mondays in the #openstack-ironic room on irc.freenode.net chaired by Julia Kreger (TheJulia) or Dmitry Tantsur (dtantsur).

Stay tuned for more case studies from organizations using OpenStack Ironic.


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