Technology Blog

by Amy Wheelus, vice president of Cloud and Domain 2.0 Platform Integration

As part of our ongoing commitment to open and collaborative innovation, we’re working with SKT, Intel Corporation and the OpenStack Foundation to launch a new open infrastructure project called Airship. This project builds on the foundation laid by the OpenStack-Helm project launched in 2017. It lets cloud operators manage sites at every stage from creation through minor and major updates, including configuration changes and OpenStack upgrades. It does all this through a unified, declarative, fully containerized, and cloud-native platform.

Simply put, Airship lets you build a cloud easier than ever before. Whether you’re a telecom, manufacturer, health care provider, or an individual developer, Airship makes it easy to predictably build and manage cloud infrastructure.

It’s built using microservices, which we think are the future of software development, and embraces cloud native principles out of the box. This lets each Airship microservice perform one specific role in the cloud delivery and management process, and do it well. The ultimate goal of Airship is to help operators take hardware from loading dock to an OpenStack cloud, all while ensuring first-class life cycle management of that cloud once it enters production.

The initial focus of this project is the implementation of a declarative platform to introduce OpenStack on Kubernetes (OOK) and the lifecycle management of the resulting cloud, with the scale, speed, resiliency, flexibility, and operational predictability demanded of network clouds.

“Declarative” might be a new term to some readers. But it’s a simple concept with huge benefits. In a nutshell, every aspect of your cloud is defined in standardized documents that give you extremely flexible and fine grain control of your cloud infrastructure.  You simply manage the documents themselves and submit them and the platform takes care of the rest. This includes determining what has changed since the last submission and orchestrating those changes.

AT&T is contributing code for Airship that started in collaboration with SKT, Intel and a number of other companies in 2017. It’s the foundation of AT&T’s network cloud that will run our 5G core supporting the late 2018 launch of 5G service in 12 cities. Airship will also be used by Akraino Edge Stack, which is a new Linux Foundation project. Akraino is intended to create an open source software stack supporting high-availability cloud services optimized for edge computing systems and applications.

Airship will fuel and accelerate our Network AI initiative which houses several of our other open source projects. We want to build and nurture an open ecosystem of developers who can work together to advance this technology and deploy it within their own organizations.

Ryan van Wyk, assistant vice president of Cloud Platform Development at AT&T Labs, describes it like this: “Airship is going to allow AT&T and other operators to deliver cloud infrastructure predictably that is 100% declarative, where Day Zero is managed the same as future updates via a single unified workflow, and where absolutely everything is a container from the bare metal up.”

Ryan and his team will follow this blog post with a more in-depth introduction to project Airship in the next few days.

"We are pleased to bring continued innovation with Airship, extending the work we started in 2016 with the OpenStack and Kubernetes communities to create a continuum for modern and open infrastructure. Airship will bring new network edge capabilities to these stacks and Intel is committed to working with this project and the many other upstream projects to continue our focus of upstream first development and accelerating the industry." – Imad Sousou, corporate vice president and general manager of the Open Source Technology Center at Intel

To get involved in this new Open Infrastructure Project for OpenStack, please attend one of the OpenStack Vancouver Summit talks, or go to airshipit.org.