Understanding the OpenShift Dedicated control plane

The control plane, which is composed of master machines, manages the OpenShift Dedicated cluster. The control plane machines manage workloads on the compute, or worker, machines. The cluster itself manages all upgrades to the machines by the actions of the Cluster Version Operator, the Machine Config Operator, and set of individual Operators.

Machine roles in OpenShift Dedicated

OpenShift Dedicated assigns hosts different roles. These roles define the function of the machine within the cluster. The cluster contains definitions for the standard master and worker role types.

The cluster also contains the definition for the bootstrap role. Because the bootstrap machine is used only during cluster installation, its function is explained in the cluster installation documentation.

Cluster workers

In a Kubernetes cluster, the worker nodes are where the actual workloads requested by Kubernetes users run and are managed. The worker nodes advertise their capacity and the scheduler, which is part of the master services, determines on which nodes to start containers and Pods. Important services run on each worker node, including CRI-O, which isthe container engine, Kubelet, which is the service that accepts and fulfills requests for running and stopping container workloads, and a service proxy, which manages communication for pods across workers.

In OpenShift Dedicated, MachineSets control the worker machines. Machines with the worker role drive compute workloads that are governed by a specific machine pool that autoscales them. Because OpenShift Dedicated has the capacity to support multiple machine types, the worker machines are classed as compute machines. In this release, the terms "worker machine" and "compute machine" are used interchangeably because the only default type of compute machine is the worker machine. In future versions of OpenShift Dedicated, different types of compute machines, such as infrastructure machines, might be used by default.

Cluster masters

In a Kubernetes cluster, the master nodes run services that are required to control the Kubernetes cluster. In OpenShift Dedicated, the master machines are the control plane. They contain more than just the Kubernetes services for managing the OpenShift Dedicated cluster. Because all of the machines with the control plane role are master machines, and the terms "master" and "control plane" are used interchangeably to describe them. Instead of being grouped into a MachineSet, master machines are defined by a series of standalone machine API resources. Extra controls apply to master machines to prevent you from deleting all master machines and breaking your cluster.

Services that fall under the Kubernetes category on the master include the API server, etcd, controller manager server, and HAProxy services.

Table 1. Kubernetes services that run on the control plane
Component Description

API Server

The Kubernetes API server validates and configures the data for Pods, Services, and replication controllers. It also provides a focal point for cluster’s shared state.


etcd stores the persistent master state while other components watch etcd for changes to bring themselves into the specified state.

Controller Manager Server

The Controller Manager Server watches etcd for changes to objects such as replication, namespace, and serviceaccount controller objects, and then uses the API to enforce the specified state. Several such processes create a cluster with one active leader at a time.

Some of these services on the master machines run as systemd services, while others run as static Pods.

Systemd services are appropriate for services that you need to always come up on that particular system shortly after it starts. For master machines, those include sshd, which allows remote login. It also includes services such as:

  • The CRI-O container engine (crio), which runs and manages the containers. OpenShift Dedicated 4 uses CRI-O instead of the Docker Container Engine.

  • Kubelet (kubelet), which accepts requests for managing containers on the machine from master services.

CRI-O and Kubelet must run directly on the host as systemd services because they need to be running before you can run other containers.

Operators in OpenShift Dedicated

In OpenShift Dedicated, Operators are the preferred method of packaging, deploying, and managing services on the control plane. They also provide advantages to applications that users run. Operators integrate with Kubernetes APIs and CLI tools such as kubectl and oc commands. They provide the means of watching over an application, performing health checks, managing over-the-air updates, and ensuring that the applications remain in your specified state.

Because CRI-O and the Kubelet run on every node, almost every other cluster function can be managed on the control plane by using Operators. Operators are among the most important components of OpenShift Dedicated 4. Components that are added to the control plane by using Operators include critical networking and credential services.

The Operator that manages the other Operators in an OpenShift Dedicated cluster is the Cluster Version Operator.

OpenShift Dedicated 4 uses different classes of Operators to perform cluster operations and run services on the cluster for your applications to use.

Operators managed by OLM

The Cluster Operator Lifecycle Management (OLM) component manages Operators that are available for use in applications. It does not manage the Operators that comprise OpenShift Dedicated. OLM is a framework that manages Kubernetes-native applications as Operators. Instead of managing Kubernetes manifests, it manages Kubernetes Operators. OLM manages two classes of Operators, Red Hat Operators and certified Operators.

Some Red Hat Operators drive the cluster functions, like the scheduler and problem detectors. Others are provided for you to manage yourself and use in your applications, like etcd. OpenShift Dedicated also offers certified Operators, which the community built and maintains. These certified Operators provide an API layer to traditional applications so you can manage the application through Kubernetes constructs.

About the OpenShift Dedicated update service

The OpenShift Dedicated update service is the hosted service that provides over-the-air updates to both OpenShift Dedicated and Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS). It provides a graph, or diagram that contain vertices and the edges that connect them, of component Operators. The edges in the graph show which versions you can safely update to, and the vertices are update payloads that specify the intended state of the managed cluster components.

The Cluster Version Operator (CVO) in your cluster checks with the OpenShift Dedicated update service to see the valid updates and update paths based on current component versions and information in the graph. When you request an update, the OpenShift Dedicated CVO uses the release image for that update to upgrade your cluster. The release artifacts are hosted in Quay as container images.

To allow the OpenShift Dedicated update service to provide only compatible updates, a release verification pipeline exists to drive automation. Each release artifact is verified for compatibility with supported cloud platforms and system architectures as well as other component packages. After the pipeline confirms the suitability of a release, the OpenShift Dedicated update service notifies you that it is available.

During continuous update mode, two controllers run. One continuously updates the payload manifests, applies them to the cluster, and outputs the status of the controlled rollout of the Operators, whether they are available, upgrading, or failed. The second controller polls the OpenShift Dedicated update service to determine if updates are available.

Reverting your cluster to a previous version, or a rollback, is not supported. Only upgrading to a newer version is supported.

Understanding the Machine Config Operator

OpenShift Dedicated 4 integrates both operating system and cluster management. Because the cluster manages its own updates, including updates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS) on cluster nodes, OpenShift Dedicated provides an opinionated lifecycle management experience that simplifies the orchestration of node upgrades.

OpenShift Dedicated employs three DaemonSets and controllers to simplify node management. These DaemonSets orchestrate operating system updates and configuration changes to the hosts by using standard Kubernetes-style constructs. They include:

  • The machine-config-controller, which coordinates machine upgrades from the control plane. It monitors all of the cluster nodes and orchestrates their configuration updates.

  • The machine-config-daemon DaemonSet, which runs on each node in the cluster and updates a machine to configuration defined by MachineConfig as instructed by the MachineConfigController. When the node sees a change, it drains off its pods, applies the update, and reboots. These changes come in the form of Ignition configuration files that apply the specified machine configuration and control kubelet configuration. The update itself is delivered in a container. This process is key to the success of managing OpenShift Dedicated and RHCOS updates together.

  • The machine-config-server DaemonSet, which provides the Ignition config files to master nodes as they join the cluster.

The machine configuration is a subset of the Ignition configuration. The machine-config-daemon reads the machine configuration to see if it needs to do an OSTree update or if it must apply a series of systemd kubelet file changes, configuration changes, or other changes to the operating system or OpenShift Dedicated configuration.

When you perform node management operations, you create or modify a KubeletConfig Custom Resource (CR).