The Nelson manifest enables the user to focus primarily on their own application and not worry about the specifics of runtime scheduling. Whilst this can be largely beneficial, it also presents a set of challenges as more often than not every organization has a different internal process with slight differences. To accommodate this, Nelson supports the concept of Workflow and Blueprint.

A Blueprint is a scheduler specification (for example, Kubernetes YAML document(s) or Nomad HCL) mustache template, which at deploy-time Nelson will interpolate with the runtime data (e.g. StackName), and submit that rendered output to the scheduler API in order to launch a stack. Whilst the author would hope that this powerful tool is carefully used, it provides the operators / admins of Nelson the flexibility to create deployment stacks that use whatever runtime setup they want. For example, Company X might wish to run their logging and routing as sidecars, with Kubernetes pods using particular node affinity, whereas Company Y might want to instead just use node selectors for deployments and rely on some node global configuration. Nelson simply does not care. Consider the following Kubernetes Blueprint snippet as an example:

- name: {{port_name}}
  containerPort: {{port_number}}

Here, the blueprint enumerates the port_list defined in the supplied Nelson Manifest, translating that definition into the Kubernetes “pod spec” definition of container ports. Please see the reference section for more information about Blueprint templating scheme and the variables that are available for interpolation.


A Workflow codifies the steps needed to interact with a given scheduling system (and related systems) to get a production-ready deployment. For example, consider the steps below we might manually take to create a deployment:

  • Create a stack-specific service account

  • Create a Vault auth principle for stack service account

  • Render blueprint and send to the scheduler

  • Wait for the stack to become ready

  • Setup alerting rules in Prometheus

It is these kinds of actions and steps, when viewed together, that makeup a workflow. There is never just a single system involved in operational orchestration. At the time of writing, Nelson supports a set of different workflows that support different runtime features:

  canopus pulsar magnetar
Traffic Shifting

At the time of writing, Workflows are codified inside of the Nelson codebase, however, this may change in future versions of Nelson to make it easier to customize without requiring a source change.

For more information on Blueprints, please checkout the reference.

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