Airship 2 - Released!

By Rodolfo Pacheco, Alan Meadows, Matt McEuen, Pete Birley on 16/04/2021

Airship 2.0 is here! Airship 2 ties together the best-in-class Cloud Native projects to create a fully declarative lifecycle management system for infrastructure and software delivery.

We are pleased to announce the release of Airship 2. In the last month of 2019, we embarked on a journey to develop Airship 2, as we discussed in the post Pre-Alpha Airship Blog Series 1 - Evolution Towards 2.0 | Blog. We wrote a series of blogs defining why and how we intended to achieve that. Like every journey, we learned a lot along the way, and some of our initial intentions outlined within those blog posts evolved as we worked through actually building Airship 2. However, we did achieve our ultimate objective for Airship 2, namely to provide a declarative interface to assemble and orchestrate best-of-breed Cloud Native building blocks for provisioning and lifecycling Kubernetes clouds and the resulting software stack.

Airship 2.0 provides:

  • No-touch remote site bootstrap (ephemeral cluster)
  • Declarative image building

    • Support for declarative ephemeral ISO
    • Support for declarative bare metal targeted QCOW’s
  • Declarative cluster lifecycle
  • Infrastructure lifecycle

    • On bare metal infrastructure
    • On public cloud infrastructure
  • Single command line “airshipctl“
  • Lifecycle as phases
  • Introduction of a plan for the phases
  • Seamless integration with CNCF projects (CAPI, Metal3, Kustomize)
  • Secrets management. seamless integration with security plugins like SOPS
  • Generic container interface: a mechanism to extend airshipctl with adhoc functionality
  • Introduction of host config operator for day two operations
  • Simplified development experience through Airship in a pod

Airship 2 takes cloud native projects like Cluster API, Kustomize, Metal3, and the Helm-Controller and integrates them into an end-to-end solution with a smooth operator experience. To achieve our Airship 2 goals, we thought about improving the lifecycling experience and managing the document set that expresses its intentions. We will explain both of those in-depth in the upcoming blog posts:

  • Airship 2 - Under the hood - Lifecycle
  • Airship 2 - Under the hood - Manifests

With Airship 2, we accomplish the goals we stated in the post Pre-Alpha Airship Blog Series 2 - An Educated Evolution | Blog:

  • Declarative Intentions
    Airship 2 supports multiple document sources & predictable behavior. Airshipctl can pull declarative intent, in the form of Kubernetes resource files, directly from versioned git repositories. Through integrating with Kustomize as a library, airshipctl can render document bundles (as we call them) right out of the box as part of any action. These features allow intent to be tested and validated before it is deployed to a live site, providing strong predictability guarantees. We also make it easier to manage a large number of distinct regions or clouds by introducing the concept of YAML “catalogs.” These catalogs normalize variables, permitting layering and replacement transformation to ensure we have a strong level of consistency in life cycle behavior across all of these sites.

  • **Simplified >

    Simple Control**
    Airship implements two patterns to help ensure we keep the solution as simple as possible.

    • First, we minimized the introduction of stateful long-lived control plane components into Kubernetes and interacted solely with the Kubernetes API itself. This ensures simplicity while also reducing resource consumption and security surface area. Additionally, this paves the way for edge models where Airship manages minimal edge environments.
    • Secondly, we introduced the concepts of “phases” and “phase plans” into Airship to sequence and iterate over discrete lifecycle management stages.

  • Multi Use-Case
    We intend to use Airshipctl to drive cloud installations and lifecycle management of environments running lots of different workloads, from CI/CD, to CNFs, to VNFs, to a hybrid between both. We’ve made airshipctl as simple to use as possible for new community users, folks who need to stand up four servers in a lab but lend itself to those same users if they want to take it into production with 100 servers or 100’s of clouds. It is also straightforward for operators to leverage workload definitions from the Airship Treasuremap project and seamlessly integrate their own workloads.

  • Cloud Agnostic >> Any Cloud
    With Airship 2, we have fully embraced the cluster-api and have integrated it closely into airshipctl. We support a variety of infrastructure backends and operating system choices, from public clouds (Azure, Google), to VMs (Openstack), to bare metal(Metal3). We have unified how we stand up, configure, and lifecycle cloud infrastructure across these various providers with a single tool.

  • Homogeneous >> Equivalency
    We deliver a level of uniformity in terms of how we lifecycle the clouds themselves. We also provide a mechanism to ensure the configuration of these clouds has a homogeneous feel. It adheres to internal enterprise requirements—things like standardizing Admission Controllers, Webhooks, Network Security Policies, Namespaces, and more. The advantage airshipctl provides it works with anything presenting a Kubernetes API. Because of its integration with Kustomize and our ability to layer documents in various ways, from inheriting global values to bifurcating on the type and, finally, site-specific customizations—it provides an ideal way to deliver a homogeneous configuration across a variety of cloud deployments and infrastructure backends.

To read more about Airship 2 and to dive in, the following documents will help you get started:

In general, all project documents can be found at

Airship v2 related repositories can be found at: