Cluster Templates

The CycleCloud CLI tools ship with some cluster templates already defined, located in the ~/.cycle directory. For example, the file sge_template.txt defines a basic two-node SGE cluster. To create a new cluster, begin by copying the section of the file that defines the sge cluster and pasting it to the bottom of the configuration file with a new name. For example, you might copy/modify the section to look like:

[cluster custom_sge_cluster]
  # Enable autoscaling
  Autoscale = true

  [[node defaults]]
  ImageId = ami-1f57c276

  # Custom keypair

  [[node master]]
  # Bigger head node
  MachineType = m1.xlarge
    # Removed for brevity

  [[nodearray execute]]
  # Set autoscaling to max out at 10 cores
  MaxCoreCount = 10
  # Start with zero execute nodes to start
  Count = 0
  # Use 2-core machines with $0.10 spot bid for autoscaling
  MachineType = m1.large
  BidPrice = 0.10
    # Removed for brevity

By adding the above section a new cluster template called custom_sge_cluster is defined which starts with 50 m1.small execute nodes, using an m1.xlarge for the master node instead of an m1.small. Importing and running this new cluster type requires just the following two commands:

$ cyclecloud import custom_demo_cluster -f ~/.cycle/sge_template.txt -c custom_sge_cluster

$ cyclecloud start custom_demo_cluster

Configuration Notation

CycleCloud cluster templates all have the option of having one or more [[[configuration]]] sections which belong to a node or nodearray. These sections specify software configuration options about the nodes being started by CycleCloud. Dotted notation is used to specify the attributes you wish to configure. For example, you can set several CycleServer configuration options on a node which has CycleServer installed:

[[node master]]
  [[[configuration]]] = poweruser
  cycle_server.admin.pass = super_secret
  cycle_server.http_port = 8080
  cycle_server.https_port = 8443

You can also specify a configuration section using prefix notation to save typing. The same configuration could also be written as:

[[node master]]
  [[[configuration cycle_server]]] = poweruser
  admin.pass = super_secret
  http_port = 8080
  https_port = 8443

A node/nodearray can contain multiple configuration sections if needed:

[[node master]]
  run_list = role[sge_master_node]

  [[[configuration cycle_server.admin]]]
  name = poweruser
  pass = super_secret

Cluster Template Parameters

Cluster templates can contain parameters that alter the values of certain parts of a cluster without having to modify the template itself. This is particularly useful in cases where many similar clusters with minor differences are desired such as deploying development and production environments. The syntax for specifying a parameter within a cluster template is to prefix a variable with a ‘$’. A basic template example (non-functional) with some parameters could look like the following:

# template.txt
[cluster gridengine]

  [[node master]]
  MachineType = $machine_type

    gridengine.slots = $slots

This template defines two parameters: $machine_type and $slots. Using this template, we can define text files containing the values of the parameters in both the dev and prod environments. The parameters file can be in either JSON format or a Java properties file format, for example:

# dev-params.json
  "machine_type": "m1.small",
  "slots": 2

machine_type = m1.4xlarge
slots = 8

In this example, we have created a JSON file containing the parameters for dev and a .properties file containing the values for production. We can now import the template using the parameters file to fill in the missing pieces:

$ cyclecloud import_cluster gridengine-dev -f template.txt -p dev-params.json -c gridengine

$ cyclecloud import_cluster gridengine-prod -f template.txt -p -c gridengine

It is also possible to define some or all of the parameters within the cluster template itself. For example, the same cluster template could be written as follows:

# template.txt
[cluster gridengine]

  [[node master]]
  MachineType = $machine_type

    gridengine.slots = $slots

  [[parameter machine_type]]
  DefaultValue = m1.small

  [[parameter slots]]
  DefaultValue = 2

The default values for each parameter are defined within the template (we used the ‘dev’ values as defaults). It is now possible to import the template without a parameters file and the ‘dev’ values will be used automatically. When it is time to create a ‘prod’ cluster, we can use the file to overwrite the values specified inside the template file itself.


Parameter names can include any letters, numbers, and underscores.

Parameter references in the template can take one of two forms:

This uses the value of a single parameter named param.

This evaluates expr in the context of all parameters, which lets you compute dynamic values. For example:

Attribute = ${(a > b ? a : b) * 100}

This would take the larger of two parameters, a and b, and multiply it by 100. The expression is interpreted and evaluated according to the ClassAd language specification.

If a parameter reference exists by itself, the value of the parameter is used, which supports non-string types like booleans, integers, and nested structures such as lists. However, if the reference is embedded in other text, its value is converted and included in a string. For example, suppose param is defined as 456 and referenced in two places:

Attribute1 = $param
Attribute2 = 123$param

Then the value of Attribute1 would be the number 456, but the value of Attribute2 would be the string "123456".

Note that ${param} is identical to $param, which allows you to embed parameter references in more complex situations:

Attribute3 = 123$param789
Attribute4 = 123${param}789

Attribute3 would look for the parameter named param789, but Attribute4 would use the value of param to get "123456789".

Cluster Init Specs

The CycleCloud web application allows users to select cluster-init project specs when creating a new cluster. The project specs are set up within the cluster template:

[parameter ClusterInitSpecs]
Label = Cluster-Init
Description = Cluster init specs to apply to nodes
ParameterType = Cloud.ClusterInitSpecs

[cluster demo]

  [[node defaults]]
  AdditionalClusterInitSpecs = $ClusterInitSpecs

    [[[cluster-init myproject:myspec:1.0.0]]]

Once this parameter has been added to your cluster template, your user can use the file picker to select the appropriate project specs when creating a new cluster.

Lookup Tables

You can have one parameter reference another and compute a certain value with a lookup table. For example, suppose you have a parameter for the image to use, with two choices in this case:

[[parameter MachineImage]]
    Label = Image
    DefaultValue = ami-1000
    Description = CentOS 5.10
    Config.Plugin = pico.control.AutoCompleteDropdown
    [[[list Config.Entries]]]
        Name = ami-1000
        Label = CentOS 5.10
    [[[list Config.Entries]]]
        Name = ami-2000
        Label = CentOS 6.5

And suppose further that you need to get the OS version of the chosen image and use it for other configuration. In that case, you can make a parameter whose value is a lookup table of values:

[[parameter AmiLookup]]
   ParameterType = hidden
   [[[record DefaultValue]]]
       ami-1000 = CentOS_5.10
       ami-2000 = CentOS_6.5

Note that it is hidden so that it does not appear in the UI. You can then get the OS version used for the chosen image anywhere else in the cluster definition:

[[node node]]
version = ${AmiLookup[MachineImage]}

GUI Integration

Defining parameters within the cluster template enables one to take advantage of the CycleCloud GUI (Graphical User Interface). As an example, when defining parameters the following attributes can be used to assist in GUI creation:

# template.txt
[cluster gridengine]

  [[node master]]
  MachineType = $machine_type

    gridengine.slots = $slots

  [[parameter machine_type]]
  DefaultValue = m1.small
  Label = Machine Type
  Description = MachineType to use for the Grid Engine master node
  ParameterType = Cloud.MachineType

  [[parameter slots]]
  DefaultValue = 2
  Description = The number of slots for Grid Engine to report for the node

Notice that “Label” and “Description” attributes are included which will appear in the GUI as well as the optional “ParameterType” attribute. The “ParameterType” allows custom UI elements to be displayed. In the example above the “Cloud.MachineType” value will display a dropdown containing all of the available machine types. The other ParameterType values are as follows:

Displays a dropdown containing all available machine types.
Displays a dropdown containing all of the available credentials.
Displays a dropdown containing all available regions.
Displays a dropdown containing all available AWS keypairs available for use.

Chef Server Support

It is possible to use CycleCloud together with ChefServer.

Create the file chefserver.json and place your credentials into it. ValidationKey corresponds to the validation.pem file for your chef server. You also must prove the validation_client_name if you have changed it from the default value of “chef-validator”.

"AdType" : "Cloud.Locker",
"ValidationClientName" : "chef-validator",
"Credentials" : "default",
"Location" : "https://mychefserver",
"ChefRepoType" : "chefserver",
"LockerType" : "chefrepo",
"Name" : "chefrepo",
"AccountId" : "default",
"Shared" : false

Next, place the file in the directory /opt/cycle_server/config/data. It will be imported automatically.