Software Defined Infrastructure (SDx) allows operators to manage data centers in a more consistent and controlled way. It allows teams to define their environment as code and use automation to execute that definition in practice. To deliver this capability for physical (aka bare metal) servers, RackN has created a Digital Rebar provider for Terraform. The provider is a simple addition that take just seconds to enable. (Video Demonstrations at End of Blog)

The Terraform Bare Metal provider allows plans to provision and recover servers using a node resource.

The operation of this provider is simple and relies on standard workflow stages in Digital Rebar. Adding the Terraform Content Package installs a new stage that adds Terraform parameters. Including this stage in the global workflow will automatically register machines as available for Terraform. The integration uses two parameters to manage the server pool: Terraform Managed and Terraform Assigned.

When the Terraform provider asks for a node resource, it queries the Digital Rebar API for machines that are managed (true) and not assigned (false) plus whatever additional filters were required in the plan. The provider then uses the API to set assigned true and the requested Stage (e.g. centos-install) and polls until the node enters the Complete stage. The destroy action reverses the action to release the node. Digital Rebar uses the stage changes as a trigger to restart the machine workflow.

Using a Terraform plan with Digital Rebar, operators can manage complex data centers layouts from a single command line.

For users, all of the above steps are completely hidden. Operators can monitor the request using the Digital Rebar UX to ensure the plan is executing. In addition, plan metadata can set user or identification values to the machines when they are reserved to help track allocations. In this way, administrators can easily track and account for machines reserved via Terraform.

For full out-of-band control, users should add the RackN IPMI plugin. This adds the ability to force power states during plan execution. The provider does not require out-of-band management to function. RackN also maintains Packet.net and VirtualBox plugins with the same API as the IPMI plugin. This allows developers to easily test plans against virtual or cloud resources.

RackN customers are making big plans to use this simple and powerful integration to manage their own SDx roadmap. We’re excited to hear about new ways to improve data center operations, especially new edge ideas. Let us know what you are thinking!

Demonstration of Terraform Bare Metal Provisioning with Digital Rebar Provision V3.2

Setting up the Environment to run Digital Rebar Provision V3.2 for Terraform

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