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Taikun OCP Guide

Table of Contents


Conceptual Overview

Image files can be quite large, and processing images (converting an
image from one format to another, for example) can be extremely resource
intensive. Additionally, a one-size-fits-all approach to processing
images is not desirable. A public cloud will have quite different
security concerns than, for example, a small private cloud run by an
academic department in which all users know and trust each other. Thus a
public cloud deployer may wish to run various validation checks on an
image that a user wants to bring in to the cloud, whereas the
departmental cloud deployer may view such processing as a waste of

To address this situation, Glance contains tasks. Tasks are
intended to offer end users a front end to long running asynchronous
operations — the type of operation you kick off and don’t expect to
finish until you’ve gone to the coffee shop, had a pleasant chat with
your barista, had a coffee, had a pleasant walk home, etc. The
asynchronous nature of tasks is emphasized up front in order to set end
user expectations with respect to how long the task may take (hint:
longer than other Glance operations). Having a set of operations
performed by tasks allows a deployer flexibility with respect to how
many operations will be processed simultaneously, which in turn allows
flexibility with respect to what kind of resources need to be set aside
for task processing. Thus, although large cloud deployers are certainly
interested in tasks for the alternative custom image processing workflow
they enable, smaller deployers find them useful as a means of
controlling resource utilization.

An additional reason tasks have been introduced into Glance is to
support Glance’s role in the OpenStack ecosystem. Glance provides
cataloging, storage, and delivery of virtual machine images. As such, it
needs to be responsive to other OpenStack components. Nova, for
instance, requests images from Glance in order to boot instances; it
uploads images to Glance as part of its workflow for the Nova
image-create action; and it uses Glance to provide the data for the
image-related API calls that are defined in the Compute API that Nova
instantiates. It is necessary to the proper functioning of an OpenStack
cloud that these synchronous operations not be compromised by excess
load caused by non-essential functionality such as image import.

By separating the tasks resource from the images resource in the
Images API, it’s easier for deployers to allocate resources and route
requests for tasks separately from the resources required to support
Glance’s service role. At the same time this separation avoids confusion
for users of an OpenStack cloud. Responses to requests to
/v2/images should return fairly quickly, while requests to
/v2/tasks may take a while.

In short, tasks provide a common API across OpenStack installations
for users of an OpenStack cloud to request image-related operations, yet
at the same time tasks are customizable for individual cloud

Conceptual Details

A Glance task is a request to perform an asynchronous image-related
operation. The request results in the creation of a task
that can be polled for information about the status of the

A specific type of resource distinct from the traditional Glance
image resource is appropriate here for several reasons:

  • A dedicated task resource can be developed independently of the
    traditional Glance image resource, both with respect to structure and
  • There may be multiple tasks (for example, image export or image
    conversion) operating on an image simultaneously.
  • A dedicated task resource allows for the delivery to the end user of
    clear, detailed error messages specific to the particular
  • A dedicated task resource respects the principle of least surprise.
    For example, an import task does not create an image in Glance until
    it’s clear that the bits submitted pass the deployer’s tests for an
    allowable image.

Upon reaching a final state (success or
error) a task resource is assigned an expiration datetime
that’s displayed in the expires_at field. (The time between
final state and expiration is configurable.) After that datetime, the
task resource is subject to being deleted. The result of the task (for
example, an imported image) will still exist.

For details about the defined task statuses, please see task-statuses.

Tasks expire eventually because there’s no reason to keep them
around, as the user will have the result of the task, which was the
point of creating the task in the first place. The reason tasks aren’t
instantly deleted is that there may be information contained in the task
resource that’s not easily available elsewhere. (For example, a
successful import task will eventually result in the creation of an
image in Glance, and it would be useful to know the UUID of this image.
Similarly, if the import task fails, we want to give the end user time
to read the task resource to analyze the error message.)

Task Entities

A task entity is represented by a JSON-encoded data structure defined
by the JSON schema available at /v2/schemas/task.

A task entity has an identifier (id) that is guaranteed
to be unique within the endpoint to which it belongs. The id is used as
a token in request URIs to interact with that specific task.

In addition to the usual properties you’d expect (for example,
created_at, self, type,
status, updated_at, etc.), tasks have these
properties of interest:

  • input: this is defined to be a JSON blob, the exact
    content of which will depend upon the requirements set by the specific
    cloud deployer. The intent is that each deployer will document these
    requirements for end users.
  • result: this is also defined to be a JSON blob, the
    content of which will be documented by each cloud deployer. The
    result element will be null until the task has reached a
    final state, and if the final status is failure, the result
    element remains null.
  • message: this string field is expected to be null
    unless the task has entered failure status. At that point,
    it contains an informative human-readable message concerning the
    reason(s) for the task failure.