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Spin is built on the Rancher orchestration system, which uses Kubernetes to deploy Docker or Podman containers to a worker nodes. For storage, choose between high-performance networked NFS volumes or mount NERSC Global Filesystems into containers to share data between Spin and our supercomputers.

Some general Spin terminology

Spin, Rancher and Kubernetes use a vast array of terms to refer to various parts of your application and the surrounding infrastructure. We will only cover some of the most frequently used terms here but if you're curious, you may look at the full list.

  • Container image: Blueprint for how a container is created and started. Similar to a tarball with some other important metadata added.

  • Container: Running instance of an image with a private process and storage space. Similar to a regular process - especially a jailed one - and can have child processes. Containers are ephemeral; when the process exits, the container no longer exists.

  • Image Registry: Versioned repository for container images. Organized into namespaces (like directories). Labels are typically applied to images for version control. For example,

  • Pod: One or more very-closely-coupled containers. Pods allow for scaling; for example, a web front-end that is heavily used might be deployed as a pod with a scale of three, meaning it is configured to run three identical containers based on the same image, and load distributed across them.

  • Workload: Set of parameters and rules that define how to create and run a particular pod. Includes the image, scale, settings such as environment variables, storage volumes, etc.

  • Deploy: Create a workload.

  • Ingress: Proxy that allows a workload to be accessible on the network using a DNS name. The ingress in Spin uses the nginx web server software internally.

  • Namespace: Grouping mechanism for workloads and other objects (config maps, secrets, volumes). Typically used for organizational purposes; for example, to group all of the objects that belong to a particular user or a particular instance of an app.

  • Project: Group of workloads, namespaces, ingresses, etc. In Spin, these correspond to NERSC projects. Used for access control; all objects in a project are accessible only to members of the project.

  • Kubernetes: Container scheduling system. Responsible for running all of the above on cluster nodes.

  • Rancher: Orchestration system for Kubernetes clusters. Responsible for managing the Kubernetes configuration and installation. Provides an overarching web user interface, CLI, and internal API; provides authentication and access control to clusters and projects.