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A command line tool to create, manage and setup computing clusters hosted on a public or private cloud infrastructure.

Project description


elasticluster aims to provide a user-friendly command line tool to create, manage and setup computing clusters hosted on cloud infrastructures (like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud EC2) or a private OpenStack cloud). Its main goal is to get your own private cluster up and running with just a few commands.

This project is an effort of the Grid Computing Competence Center at the University of Zurich, licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3.


elasticluster is in active development, but the following features at the current state:

  • Simple configuration file to define cluster templates
  • Can start and manage multiple independent clusters at the same time
  • Automated cluster setup:
  • Grow and shrink a running cluster

elasticluster is currently in active development: please use the GitHub issue tracker to file enhancement requests and ideas


elasticluster is a Python program; Python version 2.7 is required to run it.

It’s quite easy to install elasticluster using pip; the command below is all you need to install elasticluster on your system:

pip install elasticluster

If you want to run elasticluster from source you have to install Ansible first:

pip install ansible
python install


After the software is installed you need to create a configuration file. A fully-commented configuration template is available here.

When elasticluster is run for the first time, it will copy the configuration template to the default configuration location ~/.elasticluster/config.cfg.

The following shows a basic configuration to connect to the GC3 Hobbes cloud; please have a look at the configuration template for details and further options:

ec2_access_key=***fill in your data here***
ec2_secret_key=***fill in your data here***

user_key_name=***name of SSH keypair on Hobbes***



elasticluster looks for a configuration file named ~/.elasticluster/config.cfg; you can specify a different location with the -c option: for example, elasticluster -c /path/to/another.cfg … makes elasticluster read the configuration file /path/to/another.cfg

When you are done configuring, you can start your first cluster with elasticluster: read the “Start a cluster” section below!

How to…

Start a cluster

The start command performs the following tasks:

  1. starts VM instances on the cloud provider specified in the configuration file ([cloud/...] section);
  2. sets up the instances as specified in the [setup/...] configuration section (warning: this might take a long time);
  3. Finally, it prints information about how to connect to the cluster frontend node.

The size of the cluster and the software installed on it are taken from the [cluster/...] section in the configuration file. Assuming you have a Considering the cluster/mycluster section in the configuration file, the following command will create a cluster with 1 frontend node and 2 compute nodes, and install the SLURM batch-queueing system on it:

elasticluster start mycluster

You can override parts of the configuration using command-line options. For example, the following invocation of elasticluster creates a cluster using the cluster/mycluster configuration template but with 10 compute nodes (instead of 2).

elasticluster start mycluster --name my-other-cluster --compute-nodes 10

You will be later able to refer to this cluster with name my-other-cluster. If no –name option is given, the cluster gets the name of its template: if your configuration file has a section [cluster/mycluster] and do not specify a name, the cluster will be named mycluster.

The started clusters will be automatically configured with the given frontend_groups and compute_groups in the setup/ansible section of the configuration file. In this example elasticluster will configure your cluster with the SLURM batch-queueing system.

Login into the cluster

After a cluster has been started by elasticluster, some information are printed to explain how to connect to the cluster. However, the easiest way to connect to the frontend of the cluster is using the ssh elasticluster command. The ssh command accepts a cluster name as unique argument and will open an ssh connection to the frontend of the cluster:

elasticluster ssh my-other-cluster

Please note that in order this to work you need to have a working version of the ssh command in your operating system.

List your clusters

Use the following command to show all the running clusters:

elasticluster list

List all nodes of a cluster

To list all nodes within a cluster my-other-cluster, run:

elasticluster list-nodes my-other-cluster

Note that the cluster name is mandatory, even if you have started only one cluster. You can list the started cluster names with elasticluster list (see above).

Grow a cluster

To grow a cluster by a certain number of compute nodes run:

elasticluster resize my-other-cluster +10

This starts 10 new compute nodes on the cloud and set the nodes up with the given configuration (see Section “Start a cluster” above).

Note that the cluster name is mandatory, even if you have started only one cluster. You can list the started cluster names with elasticluster list (see above).

Shrink a cluster

Shrinking a cluster will destroy the last-started node(s) of it. At the moment there is no code to determine what nodes could be safely stopped. Use the shrink functionality with caution, you have been warned!

The following command removes 1 compute node from cluster my-other-cluster:

elasticluster resize my-other-cluster -1

Stop a cluster

To stop and destroy a cluster (named my-other-cluster), use the following command:

elasticluster stop my-other-cluster

This will destory all VMs of cluster my-other-cluster.

After a cluster has been stopped it is lost forever. There is no recovery or undo operation, so think twice before stopping the cluster.

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