Armada Deprecation and Replacement


This story will present how we are going to replace Armada in StarlingX with a similar replacement named FluxCD.

Problem description

Airship Armada [1] is being used in StarlingX application framework to manage the life-cycle of StarlingX applications.

It provides the ability to manage (i.e., install, upgrade, remove) multiple Helm charts in an application with dependencies by having all chart configurations in a single Armada YAML and having it processed with a single command.

However, the Armada project in AirShip is no longer actively developed upstream and no longer being used by current versions of AirShip. Therefore an alternative underlying application management solution needs to be used by the StarlingX Application Framework.

Use Cases

As a developer/tester/operator I need the ability to define and manage various applications on a running StarlingX system in a similar fashion to how this was done with Armada. I.e. defining applications with 1 or more helm charts and specifying install dependencies between helm charts. Also the new solution must support both helmv2 and helmv3 helm charts.

Proposed change

A good replacement for armada in the StarlingX project is FluxCD [2]. It provides the same mechanisms to manage the life-cycle of StarlingX applications.

Flux is a tool for keeping Kubernetes clusters in sync with sources of configuration (like Git repositories), and automating updates to configuration when there is new code to deploy.

For our specific needs we will use only the Flux Helm controller [3] and Source controller [4]. Also the kustomize [5] tool will be used to deploy FluxCD related resources.

Packaging FluxCD and Kustomize into the Load

The Flux Helm and Source controllers will be deployed as pods during the ansible bootstrap. To enable incremental delivery and eventual removal of Armada, a new common Ansible role for installing the Helm/Source controllers will be added.

The Kustomize binary is used to install FluxCD resources, it will be packaged into one of the Kubernetes rpms in the integ repository. In the newer kubernetes versions this is not needed because Kustomize support is built into kubectl (kubectl apply -k).

StarlingX application changes

The Armada tar file components for every StarlingX application are the following:

  • charts - A mandatory directory which contains the helm charts for the application.

  • checksum.md5 - An MD5 checksum for the tar file contents.

  • files - An optional directory for resource files.

  • metadata.yaml - Application metadata.

  • plugins - An optional directory containing python app plugins.

  • templates - An optional directory for template files.

  • ArmadaManifest.yaml - The Armada manifest file for the application.

The FluxCD applications tar file components will be almost the same as the armada components, only the armada manifest file (ArmadaManifest.yaml) will be replaced with the fluxcd-manifests folder. This directory will contain the necessary files to deploy the app using FluxCD. The following structure is proposed:

  • fluxcd-manifests.

    • base.

      • helmrepository.yaml.

      • kustomization.yaml.

      • namespace.yaml.

    • kustomization.yaml

    • chart-0.

      • helmrelease.yaml

      • kustomization.yaml

      • chart-0-static-overrides.yaml

      • chart-0-system-overrides.yaml

    • chart-n.

      • helmrelease.yaml

      • kustomization.yaml

      • chart-n-static-overrides.yaml

      • chart-n-system-overrides.yaml

In the new fluxcd-manifests directory, there is a base directory that contains the basic resources required to be created for this particular application (i.e… helm repository).

Each chart directory has a helmrelease YAML that defines the HelmRelease object for each helm chart and 2 overrides YAML files that contains the static and the system overrides for the chart. The static overrides and system overrides will be stored in Secret and referenced in its HelmRelease object.

All the existing applications need to be updated to this new structure. Also, we need to ensure that all the existing application repositories which contain ‘armada’ in the name are renamed and the Starling repo manifests are updated to reflect the name changes.

Starlingx framework changes

  • All existing system application-[upload/apply/remove/delete/abort/update] commands need to operate on both Armada and FluxCD tarball formats. To enable incremental delivery and eventual removal of Armada, we want to maintain the existing infrastructure to call Armada based applications and introduce new functionality to use the Helm/Source controllers for applications formatted for them.

  • Support application upgrade (to FluxCD) and rollback (to Armada) if problems occur during a platform upgrade.


Argo CD [6] – A declarative, GitOps continuous delivery tool for k8s applications deployment and automated lifecycle management. Each workload is defined declarative through a resource manifest in an Application YAML file. Argo CD checks if the state defined in the Git repository matches what is running on the cluster and synchronizes it if changes were detected. K8s applications accept kustomize applications, helm charts and so on.

Helm repository instead of Git repository is supported to obtain helm chart. If an application is made of multiple Helm charts and a specific installation sequence is required, the Argo CD app for each Helm chart needs to be set to manual sync mode and user has to sync the apps in a specified order. Basically, it doesn’t support the auto-sync(deploy) of multiple Helm charts in a specific order.

Argo workflow [7] – container-native workflow engine for orchestrating parallel/sequential jobs on Kubernetes.

Kubeapps [8] - web-based UI for deploying and managing applications in Kubernetes clusters.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Security impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact

The impact is unknown at this time.

Other deployer impact


Developer impact

Developer adding new StarlingX applications need to embrace the new application structure that is compatible with FluxCD.

Upgrade impact

  • All platform applications are updated over a platform upgrade (from Armada to FluxCD)

  • When a platform upgrade is in progress an application update failure must trigger a rollback using Armada

  • Armada pod is removed from the system after all applications are upgraded to the FluxCD compatible framework on platform upgrade activation

  • reject Armada application use (detect and reject Armada based application tarball uploads) once the platform upgrade is completed and all applications have been migrated to FluxCD.



Primary assignee:

  • Mihnea Saracin (msaracin)

Repos Impacted

  • config

  • ansible-playbooks

  • integ

  • audit-armada-app

  • metrics-server-armada-app

  • monitor-armada-app

  • nginx-ingress-controller-armada-app

  • oidc-auth-armada-app

  • openstack-armada-app

  • platform-armada-app

  • portieris-armada-app

  • ptp-notification-armada-app

  • rook-ceph

  • SDO-rv-service

  • snmp-armada-app

  • vault-armada-app

Work Items

  • Implement Ansible bootstrap changes to install FluxCD Helm/Source controllers

  • Enable the Helm and Source controllers

  • Update the application framework to use the Helm/Source controllers

  • Update all applications to use the Helm/Source controllers for deploying/updating applications

  • Enabling the postgres backend for the Helm controller

  • Provide upgrade support to update all applications to the Helm Controller and remove the Armada pod

  • Ensure that the Helm/Source controller versions will align/work with future kubernetes versions

  • Removal of Armada related code from the application framework/ansible playbooks

  • Provide documentation support for setting up applications that use the Helm/Source controllers


  • FluxCD


  • the usual unit testing in the impacted code areas

  • full system regression of all StarlingX applications functionality (system application commands, lifecycle actions etc)

  • performance testing in order to identify and address any performance impacts.

In addition, this story changes the way a StarlingX system is installed and configured, which will require changes in existing automated installation and testing tools.

Documentation Impact

Only in the developer documentation we need to add the following:

  • Brief description of the new FluxCD Helm/Source controllers.

  • Note to be added to Armada references that Armada is deprecated and Armada application are no longer allowed to be uploaded.




Release Name