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There can be different types of nodes. Compute Node, Network Node, Block Storage node , Object storage nodes are few of them[1].

Do all nodes have to be compute nodes in order to launch on them? Yes for launching vms all of them have to be compute nodes

Do all servers, that I want to run something on have to be compute nodes? No. For example If you want to run network services the server need not be a compute node. It will have neutron-l3-agent, neutron-dhcp-agent etc[2].

For example, let's say that I have 16 servers and I put 3 controller nodes and 1 compute node on four of them. Will I then be able to spawn VMs on some of the other 12 servers with OpenStack or do all 12 of them have to be provisioned as compute nodes in order to be used like that? In this case you will not be able to spawn vms on other 12 servers. All 12 of them have to be provisioned as compute nodes in order to be used like that.

[1] http://docs.openstack.org/juno/install-guide/install/apt/content/ch_overview.html

[2] http://docs.openstack.org/security-guide/networking/architecture.html

There can be different types of nodes. Compute Node, Network Node, Block Storage node , Object storage nodes are few of them[1].

Do all nodes have to be compute nodes in order to launch on them? Yes for launching vms all of them have to be compute nodes

Do all servers, that I want to run something on have to be compute nodes? No. For example If you want to run network services the server need not be a compute node. It will have neutron-l3-agent, neutron-dhcp-agent etc[2].

For example, let's say that I have 16 servers and I put 3 controller nodes and 1 compute node on four of them. Will I then be able to spawn VMs on some of the other 12 servers with OpenStack or do all 12 of them have to be provisioned as compute nodes in order to be used like that? In this case you will not be able to spawn vms on other 12 servers. All 12 of them have to be provisioned as compute nodes in order to be used like that.

[1] http://docs.openstack.org/juno/install-guide/install/apt/content/ch_overview.htmlhttp://docs.openstack.org/newton/install-guide-ubuntu/overview.html

[2] http://docs.openstack.org/security-guide/networking/architecture.html