Airship Glossary of Terms


A platform that integrates a collection of best-of-class, interoperable and loosely coupled CNCF projects such as Cluster API, Kustomize, Metal3, and Helm Operator. The goal of Airship is to deliver automated and resilient container-based cloud infrastructure provisioning at scale on both bare metal and public cloud, and life cycle management experience in a completely declarative and predictable way.

Bare metal provisioning

The process of installing a specified operating system (OS) on bare metal host hardware. Building on open source bare metal provisioning tools such as OpenStack Ironic, provides a Kubernetes native API for managing bare metal hosts and integrates with the Cluster-API as an infrastructure provider for Cluster-API Machine objects.


A platform that provides a standard set of interfaces for IaaS consumers.

Container orchestration platform

Set of tools that any organization that operates at scale will need.

Control Plane

From the point of view of the cloud service provider, the control plane refers to the set of resources (hardware, network, storage, etc.) configured to provide cloud services for customers.

Data Plane

From the point of view of the cloud service provider, the data plane is the set of resources (hardware, network, storage, etc.) configured to run consumer workloads. When used in Airship deployment, “data plane” refers to the data plane of the tenant clusters.


A usable executor is a combination of an executor YAML definition as well as an executor implementation that adheres to the Executor interface. A phase uses an executor by referencing the definition. The executor purpose is to do something useful with the rendered document set. Built-in executors include KubernetesApply, GenericContainer, Clusterctl, and several other executors that helps with driving Redfish, bare metal node image creation.

Hardware Profile

A hardware profile is a standard way of configuring a bare metal server, including RAID configuration and BIOS settings. An example hardware profile can be found in the Airshipctl repository.


Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes. Helm Charts help you define, install, and upgrade Kubernetes applications.


An open-source container-orchestration system for automating application deployment, scaling, and management.

Lifecycle management

The process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products.

Network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVi)

Network architecture concept that uses the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services.

Openstack Ironic (OpenStack bare metal provisioning)

An integrated OpenStack program which aims to provision bare metal machines instead of virtual machines, forked from the Nova bare metal driver.


Automated configuration, coordination, and management of computer systems and software.


Phase is defined as a Kustomize entrypoint and its relationship to a known Airship executor that takes the rendered document set and performs defined action on it. The goal of phases is to break up the delivery of artifacts into independent document sets. The most common example of such an executor is the built-in KubernetesApply executor which takes the rendered document set and applies it to a Kubernetes end-point and optionally waits for the workloads to be in a specific state. The airship community provides a set of predefined phases in Treasuremap that allow you to deploy a Kubernetes cluster and manage its workloads. But you can craft your own phases as well.

Phase Plan

A plan is a collection of phases that should be executed in sequential order. It provides the mechanism to easily orchestrate a number of phases. The purpose of the plan is to help achieve a complete end to end lifecycle with a single command. Airship Phase Plan is declared in your YAML library. There can be multiple plans, for instance, a plan defined for initial deployment, a plan for updates, and even plans for highly specific purposes. Plans can also share phases, which makes them another fairly light-weight construct and allows YAML engineers to craft any number of specific plans without duplicating plan definitions.

Software defined networking (SDN)

Software-defined networking technology is an approach to network management that enables dynamic, programmatically efficient network configuration in order to improve network performance and monitoring making it more like cloud computing than traditional network management.


A stage is a logical grouping of phases articulating a common purpose in the life cycle. There is no airshipctl command that relates to stages, but it is a useful notion for purposes of discussion that we define each of the stages that make-up the life cycle process.