Antidote has multiple layers that build up a cluster, and multiple tools that run or setup each layer.


Now let’s overview the tiers that make up Antidote. The NRE Labs runtime of Antidote runs on Google Cloud Platform, so we’ll use this as a example to illustrate the cluster and stack at a glance.

Infrastructure Tier Tool Used Explanation
Cloud Infrastructure Terraform All cloud infrastructure elements (VM instances, DNS entries, load balancers, etc) are defined in Terraform files. This lets us use infrastructure-as-code workflows to quickly create/delete/change infrastructure elements. Because Terraform is not a cloud DSL, if you want to host Antidote on another cloud, you only need to change the Terraform layer, made simple by Terraform Providers.
Instance Config Ansible Once Terraform provisions the cloud VM Linux instances, they need to be configured, such as having dependencies installed, configuration files written, processes restarted, etc. We use an Ansible playbook to initially configure all VM instances, including those that are added to the compute cluster to respond to a scaling event.
Container Scheduling Kubernetes Kubernetes orchestrates the services in a container cluster. When we want to provision a resource as part of a lab, we do this by interacting with Kubernetes API.
Lesson Provisioning Syringe Kubernetes is still fairly low-level for our purposes, and we don’t want to place the burden on the lab contributor to know how Kubernetes works. So we developed a tool called Syringe that ingests a very simple lab definition, and creates the necessary resources in the cluster. It also provides an API for the web front-end (antidote-web) to know how to provision and connect to lab resources.
Web Front-End antidote-web We developed a custom web application based on Apache Tomcat and Apache Guacamole that serves the front end. Guacamole specifically enables an in-browser terminal experience for virtual Linux nodes or network devices in the lab topology. Jupyter notebooks handle stepping through the lab exercise steps.

The first three layers are Antidote’s “infrastructure”. This means we are using existing tools and software to get to a working Kubernetes cluster. The final two components make up the Antidote Platform, which is the bulk of the custom software developed for the Antidote project.

Antidote’s infrastructure scripts provision and manages Kubernetes as opposed to using a hosted, managed solution like GKE because:

  • It needs a custom CNI plugin (multus). GKE doesn’t support CNI except for very tightly controlled deployments. This means that we can’t have multiple interfaces per pod. We tried our best to think of alternatives but the tradeoffs were not great. Using multus is really our only option, which means the K8s deployment we’re using must support CNI.
  • Keeping things simple, and using only IaaS makes antidote more portable. You could deploy onto any cloud provider, or even on-premises. Initially, antidote was developed on top of GKE and in addition to the other constraints, it wasn’t possible to keep GKE-specifics from leaking into the logic of the application. So, we’re keeping things generic at the infrastructure layer, allowing others to pick the foundation that works for them more easily.