Thanks for the summary Greg—that was great!  Here’s my take.

It would be great if all the services Congress interacts with implemented the 
same protocol and used the same policy/data language.  It is worth our time to 
figure out what that protocol and language should be.

But we should not forget that there will always be legacy services that people 
are unwilling or unable to change that don’t speak that protocol/language. And 
right now no services speak that protocol/language (since it doesn’t exist).  
So it’s useful today and in the future to have an adapter/wrapper framework 
that enables Congress to  interact with other protocols and languages.

That means we need to push on 2 fronts: (i) designing the ideal 
protocol/language and (ii) designing the adapter framework.  I’ve been focused 
on (ii) since it’s absolutely necessary today, but if anyone would like to 
spearhead (i) I’d be happy to help.

Tim


On Nov 1, 2014, at 11:13 AM, Gregory Lebovitz 
<gregory.i...@gmail.com<mailto:gregory.i...@gmail.com>> wrote:


Summary from IRC chat 10/14/2014 on weekly meeting [1] [2]

Topic:  Declarative Language for Congress —> Enactor/Enforcer

Question: Shall we specify a declarative language for communicating policy 
configured in Congress to enactors / enforcement systems

Hypothesis (derived at conclusion of discussion):
     - Specify declarative protocol and framework for describing policy with 
extensible attributes/value fields described in a base ontology, with 
additional affinity ontologies, is what is needed earlier than later, to be 
able to achieve it as an end-state, before too many Enactors dive into one-offs.
     - We could achieve that specification once we know the right structure


Discussion:

  *   Given the following framework:
     *   Elements:
        *   Congress - The policy description point, a place where:
           *   (a) policy inputs are collected
           *   (b) collected policy inputs are integrated
           *   (c) policy is defined
           *   (d) declares policy intent to enforcing / enacting systems
           *   (e) observes state of environment, noting policy violations
        *   Feeders - provides policy inputs to Congress
        *   Enactors / Enforcers - receives policy declarations from Congress 
and enacts / enforces the policy according to its capabilities
           *   E.g. Nova for VM placement, Neutron for interface connectivity, 
FWaaS for access control, etc.

What will the protocol be for the Congress —> Enactors / Enforcers?


thinrichs:  we’ve we've been assuming that Congress will leverage whatever the 
Enactors (policy engines) and Feeders (and more generally datacenter services) 
that exist are using. For basic datacenter services, we had planned on teaching 
Congress what their API is and what it does. So there's no new protocol 
there—we'd just use HTTP or whatever the service expects. For Enactors, there 
are 2 pieces: (1) what policy does Congress push and (2) what protocol does it 
use to do that? We don't know the answer to (1) yet.  (2) is less important, I 
think. For (2) we could use opflex, for example, or create a new one. (1) is 
hard because the Enactors likely have different languages that they understand. 
I’m not aware of anyone thinking about (2). I’m not thinking about (2) b/c I 
don't know the answer to (1). The *really* hard thing to understand IMO is how 
these Enactors should cooperate (in terms of the information they exchange and 
the functionality they provide).  The bits they use to wrap the messages they 
send while cooperating is a lower-level question.


jasonsb & glebo: feel the need to clarify (2)


glebo: if we come out strongly with a framework spec that identifies a protocol 
for (2), and make it clear that Congress participants, including several data 
center Feeders and Enactors, are in consensus, then the other Feeders & 
Enactors will line up, in order to be useful in the modern deployments. Either 
that, or they will remain isolated from the new environment, or their customers 
will have to create custom connectors to the new environment. It seems that we 
have 2 options. (a) Congress learns any language spoken by Feeders and 
Enactors, or (b) specifies a single protocol for Congress —> Enactors policy 
declarations, including a highly adaptable public registry(ies) for defining 
the meaning of content blobs in those messages. For (a) Congress would get VERY 
bloated with an abstraction layer, modules, semantics and state for each 
different language it needed to speak. And there would be 10s of these 
languages. For (b), there would be one way to structure messages that were 
constructed of blobs in (e.g.) some sort of Type/Length/Value (TLV) method, 
where the Types and Values were specified in some Internet registry.


jasonsb: Could we attack this from the opposite direction? E.g. if Congress 
wanted to provide an operational dashboard to show if things are in compliance, 
it would be better served by receiving the state and stats from the Enactors in 
a single protocol. Could a dashboard like this be a carrot to lure the various 
players into a single protocol for Congress —> Enactor?


glebo & jasonsb: If Congress has to give Enactors precise instructions on what 
to do, then Congress will bloat, having to have intelligence about each Enactor 
type, and hold its state and such. If Congress can deliver generalized policy 
declarations, and the Enactor is responsible for interpreting it, and applying 
it, and gathering and analyzing the state so that it knows how to react, then 
the intelligence and state that it is specialized in knowing will live in the 
Enactor. A smaller Congress is better, and this provides cleaner “layering” of 
the problem space overall.


thinrichs: would love to see a single (2) language, but doesn’t see that as a 
practical solution in the short term, dubious that anyone will use Congress if 
it only works when all of the Enactors speak the Congress language. It’s an 
insertion question.


glebo:  the key is NOT the bits on the wire, not at all (though having that 
format set is VERY helpful). The key is the lexicon, the registry of shared 
types/attributes and value codes that (i) get used over and over again across 
many Enactor/Enforcement domains, and (ii) have domain-specific registries for 
domain-only types / attributes & values. Eg. IPv4addr will be in the 
all-domains, thus a (i), and AccessControlAction, and it's value codes of 
Permit, Deny, Reset, SilentDrop, Log, etc., will live in (ii) FWaaS registry 
only. Just examples. This way, each domain (e.g. Neutron L2/L3, Nova-placement, 
FWaaS, LBaaS, StorageaaS) can define their own attributes and publish the TLVs 
for them, and do so VERY quickly, independent of the rest of the Congress 
domains.

thinrichs & glebo: Agree that domains should be empowered to build their own 
ontologies. We’ve shied away building them in Congress because we don’t believe 
we can succeed, too many different ontologies between problem domains (e.g., 
FWaaS vs StorageaaS) as well as vertical markets (e.g., Finance vs. Tech). E.g. 
maybe all the major financials get together and develop their own ontology and 
publish it, based on their needs. And there will probably need to be a base set 
of Types/Attributes for building policy that get used by 80% of the varying 
ontology domains that would need to be defined by Congress, to start, the 
specific Enactor groups can create their own extension ontologies.

glebo: So we need to specify a language / protocol for these various 
communities and vendors to send/receive their declarations of policy that are 
expressed using a wide set of types/attributes and values from a registry? And 
their would need to be allowance for vendor specific types/attributes.
thinrichs & glebo: we need to look at this from the perspective of insertion. 
The above described is a great end state. How do we get from today to insertion 
to desired end-state? Once we gain traction, customers will start wanting more, 
and at that point we'll have the leverage to tell them "well we need the other 
vendors of services that we're supposed to manage to utilize some standard 
interface/language/protocol/whatever”, then the standardization of ontologies 
is very useful.

For some Enactor/Enforcer (we used GBP since it's logicy) figure out how 
Congress and that Enactor *should* interoperate. Some questions to think about:

  *   What information do that need to exchange?
  *   What if someone other than Congress gives that Enactor instructions?
  *   What happens when the policy cannot be completely delegated to Enactor?
  *   What happens when Policy is delegated to Enactor and Enactor says, “I 
can’t do that today.”?
  *   What if a hierarchy of policy (reflecting organizational stake holders) 
exists?
  *   What if coordination is needed between two Enactor engines? The Enactor 
can’t bear sole burden in this case, can it?

Possible path forward, that considers insertion to end-state:

  *   Desired end-state for Congress —> Enactor declarations:
     *   single carrying protocol for bits on wire and ordering, etc.
     *   single “base” ontology covering the 80 of types needed, published 
publicly (registry)
     *   multiple domain-specific ontologies for various affinity groups 
published publicly (registries)
     *   vendor-specific ontologies published publicly (registries). We want to 
keep these as small as possible, and encourage participation in the base or 
affinity group registries as much as possible.
  *   Note that there really are only 4 or 5 Enactor types today (although many 
more are popping up very quickly)
  *   We want to put a stake in the ground now, ASAP, so emerging Enactor 
domains and vendors can start immediately toward the end-state
  *   Meanwhile, we will support existing APIs (a very small number) for 
existing Enactor types, but on a short term basis only, with a published plan 
to deprecate the use of the multiple, and transition toward the use of the one 
protocol with many ontologies.

discussion started #openstack-meeting-3 Oct 14, 2014 at 17:24:00 [1]
Discussion then moved to #congress 18:01:40 [2]

[1] 
http://eavesdrop.openstack.org/meetings/congressteammeeting/2014/congressteammeeting.2014-10-14-17.01.log.html
 17:24:00
[2] (could not find the transcript for #congress. Pointer appreciated) 18:01:40

Hope it helps,
----
Open industry related email from
Gregory M. Lebovitz

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