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Metrics For Kubernetes System Components

System component metrics can give a better look into what is happening inside them. Metrics are particularly useful for building dashboards and alerts.

Kubernetes components emit metrics in Prometheus format. This format is structured plain text, designed so that people and machines can both read it.

Metrics in Kubernetes

In most cases metrics are available on /metrics endpoint of the HTTP server. For components that doesn't expose endpoint by default it can be enabled using --bind-address flag.

Examples of those components:

In a production environment you may want to configure Prometheus Server or some other metrics scraper to periodically gather these metrics and make them available in some kind of time series database.

Note that kubelet also exposes metrics in /metrics/cadvisor, /metrics/resource and /metrics/probes endpoints. Those metrics do not have same lifecycle.

If your cluster uses RBAC, reading metrics requires authorization via a user, group or ServiceAccount with a ClusterRole that allows accessing /metrics. For example:

kind: ClusterRole
  name: prometheus
  - nonResourceURLs:
      - "/metrics"
      - get

Metric lifecycle

Alpha metric → Stable metric → Deprecated metric → Hidden metric → Deletion

Alpha metrics have no stability guarantees; as such they can be modified or deleted at any time.

Stable metrics can be guaranteed to not change; Specifically, stability means:

  • the metric itself will not be deleted (or renamed)
  • the type of metric will not be modified

Deprecated metric signal that the metric will eventually be deleted; to find which version, you need to check annotation, which includes from which kubernetes version that metric will be considered deprecated.

Before deprecation:

# HELP some_counter this counts things
# TYPE some_counter counter
some_counter 0

After deprecation:

# HELP some_counter (Deprecated since 1.15.0) this counts things
# TYPE some_counter counter
some_counter 0

Once a metric is hidden then by default the metrics is not published for scraping. To use a hidden metric, you need to override the configuration for the relevant cluster component.

Once a metric is deleted, the metric is not published. You cannot change this using an override.

Show Hidden Metrics

As described above, admins can enable hidden metrics through a command-line flag on a specific binary. This intends to be used as an escape hatch for admins if they missed the migration of the metrics deprecated in the last release.

The flag show-hidden-metrics-for-version takes a version for which you want to show metrics deprecated in that release. The version is expressed as x.y, where x is the major version, y is the minor version. The patch version is not needed even though a metrics can be deprecated in a patch release, the reason for that is the metrics deprecation policy runs against the minor release.

The flag can only take the previous minor version as it's value. All metrics hidden in previous will be emitted if admins set the previous version to show-hidden-metrics-for-version. The too old version is not allowed because this violates the metrics deprecated policy.

Take metric A as an example, here assumed that A is deprecated in 1.n. According to metrics deprecated policy, we can reach the following conclusion:

  • In release 1.n, the metric is deprecated, and it can be emitted by default.
  • In release 1.n+1, the metric is hidden by default and it can be emitted by command line show-hidden-metrics-for-version=1.n.
  • In release 1.n+2, the metric should be removed from the codebase. No escape hatch anymore.

If you're upgrading from release 1.12 to 1.13, but still depend on a metric A deprecated in 1.12, you should set hidden metrics via command line: --show-hidden-metrics=1.12 and remember to remove this metric dependency before upgrading to 1.14

Disable accelerator metrics

The kubelet collects accelerator metrics through cAdvisor. To collect these metrics, for accelerators like NVIDIA GPUs, kubelet held an open handle on the driver. This meant that in order to perform infrastructure changes (for example, updating the driver), a cluster administrator needed to stop the kubelet agent.

The responsibility for collecting accelerator metrics now belongs to the vendor rather than the kubelet. Vendors must provide a container that collects metrics and exposes them to the metrics service (for example, Prometheus).

The DisableAcceleratorUsageMetrics feature gate disables metrics collected by the kubelet, with a timeline for enabling this feature by default.

Component metrics

kube-controller-manager metrics

Controller manager metrics provide important insight into the performance and health of the controller manager. These metrics include common Go language runtime metrics such as go_routine count and controller specific metrics such as etcd request latencies or Cloudprovider (AWS, GCE, OpenStack) API latencies that can be used to gauge the health of a cluster.

Starting from Kubernetes 1.7, detailed Cloudprovider metrics are available for storage operations for GCE, AWS, Vsphere and OpenStack. These metrics can be used to monitor health of persistent volume operations.

For example, for GCE these metrics are called:

cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "instance_list"}
cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "disk_insert"}
cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "disk_delete"}
cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "attach_disk"}
cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "detach_disk"}
cloudprovider_gce_api_request_duration_seconds { request = "list_disk"}

What's next

Last modified December 02, 2020 at 3:30 PM PST: remove text fragment (ee5a0df6a)