Shaping the future of orchestration: From distributed systems to meta-orchestrator

9. oktober 2023 - Avtor Matija Cankar

9. oktober 2023
Avtor Matija Cankar

The story begins over half a decade ago when XLAB researchers and developers embarked on a journey through the complex landscape of distributed systems, encompassing Grid, HPC, and Cloud technologies. The quest for optimization was challenging, and the road to automation was paved with diverse options. Developers put their trust in bash scripting, heat templates, and Chef cookbook recipes in their pursuit of efficiency. Amidst this, the DICE EU Horizon project became a crucial turning point for XLAB, pushing us towards a new challenge – the creation of a general-purpose orchestrator based on open standards.

xOpera: From plans to reality

From challenge to vision, the emergence of other European research projects like RADON and SODALITE brought plans to life. After years of dedicated work, we reached our goal – the xOpera project, offering an orchestrator that follow the TOSCA standard. Our project was highlighted at various events, enabling deployments across multiple providers including Amazon, GCP and MS Azure. The orchestrator covered a wide range of technologies such as HPC, Cloud, and FaaS. Still, there was something missing…

DevOps deployment management with xOpera SaaS

The allure of xOpera SaaS, empowering users to share and manage the deployments, lay in its capacity to establish secure deployment projects. Every deployment resulted in a dedicated environment equipped with the user’s specific orchestrator version and necessary secrets, like ssh keys and provider API keys. The user-friendly GUI facilitated seamless infrastructure-as-code (IaC) uploads, rapidly progressing from concept to deployment. Project isolation ensured selective sharing project management among users without compromising cloud credentials. Despite its merits, a limitation emerged - only xOpera based orchestrators were accommodated and this set the stage for the pursuit of broader orchestration freedom.

xOpera tools and dependancies addons. Find more info here:

xOpera tools and dependancies addons. Find more info here:

Freedom to use any orchestrator engine

Is this possible? Sure it is! The idea of a meta-orchestrator capable of incorporating any orchestrator engine emerged and become very interesting also for the Gaia-X community, which aims to shape the future of computing and data distribution. Following the idea, the XFSC orchestrator, a breakthrough in meta-orchestration, was designed and developed. Leveraging Kubernetes technology, the XFSC orchestrator creates secure deployment environments for every project and equips it with the desired orchestration engine. Currently, TOSCA and Terraform engines are supported, with more engines on the roadmap.

XFSC Orchestrator architecture.

XFSC Orchestrator architecture.

Contributing to the Community

The essence of software availability and maintenance stands paramount. The XFSC orchestrator has recently found a new home within the Eclipse Foundation, providing global community of individuals and organizations with a mature, scalable, and business-friendly environment for open source software collaboration and innovation, and offering the opportunity for users to access, experiment with, and make it better.

From dealing with complex systems to creating a new way of orchestrating, our journey’s evolution is an inspiring proof to how technology and collaboration can create change. The XFSC orchestrator being moved to the Eclipse Foundation isn’t just a huge accomplishment; it’s also our commitment to shaping orchestration future for the benefit of a global community.

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