Monitoring GlusterFS - Yet another try

Dec 3, 2019
4 minutes read.
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Monitoring is one of my favorite topics, and previously I tried multiple ways to monitor GlusterFS effectively. Initially, I decided to avoid running Gluster CLI commands with too frequent intervals by using Gluster hooks(Blog about using Gluster hooks is here). But this approach was not practical since hooks are not available for all events.

Then I started a project called "gdash" to visualize the health of the cluster using gluster command-line tools. But this was having only limited access to the cluster status and depended solely on what gluster CLI provides.

Events APIs are introduced in Gluster to fill the gaps of limited hooks support. The events listener needs to be started in each node of the cluster, and it exports the local events via registered webhooks.

Events APIs are great since it helps to reduce polling Gluster cluster. But Events APIs are not perfect because of the asynchronous nature it can miss events. If a Webhook listener is down, then there is no way to get the history of events.

Events APIs are useful for creating health/status boards but not so helpful while designing monitoring systems that require historical data to make decisions and plot graphs. For example, adding an event for each file create/delete is not practical, so events APIs are not useful for getting Volume utilization details and similar metrics.

Many approaches we tried didn’t succeed because all are dependent on gluster command-line tools. When we depend on Gluster CLIs, then collecting metrics from every node doesn’t make sense because Gluster CLIs returns the same data from all the nodes. So if we start collecting from a single node of the cluster, then we need a mechanism to choose another node when the previously active node goes down.

When we started working on the Prometheus integration, our approach was to collect metrics at the lowest level possible and use the monitoring system’s capability to aggregate the metrics from multiple nodes. For example, instead of collecting Volume utilization via mount or Gluster volume status command, Prometheus exporter collected utilization metrics from the bricks. This approach avoided all the complexities related to leader election or duplicate metrics.

The gluster-prometheus project solved problems related to some of the metrics, but not for all. We are still dependent on Gluster CLI commands for some of the metrics like Profile and others.

What’s wrong with using Gluster CLI commands for metrics collection?

  • Gluster CLI command fails some times due to locks(When gluster command-line tools used in parallel)

  • Gluster CLIs will not help to collect only local metrics

  • If Gluster CLIs are not available(If collecting client metrics or external projects like, which doesn’t use Glusterd!)

So what next?

  • Similar to the previous approach, collect metrics at as lowest level as possible.

  • Do not depend on Gluster CLIs, but design an external tool to populate the peer, cluster, and volume info files. For example, while collecting a brick’s utilization, how to find to which node, volume, or cluster it belongs? Maintain info file for each entity and update whenever cluster state changes. (Events APIs comes handy here).

  • For collecting volume profile related metrics, understand the RPC between brick process and glusterd, and communicate directly to brick process and collect only local metrics.

  • Integrate with the metrics available from Amar’s project

  • Introduce Metrics SDK - Collection of libraries that helps to collect metrics without knowing about Gluster internals. This SDK also helps us to integrate with any Monitoring tools(Prometheus, Netdata, Nagios, etc.)

Last week Amar invited Gluster developers to propose features for Gluster 8, 9, and X(here and here). I am planning to spend some time on mentoring/designing/implementing the Monitoring solution for Gluster.

I am hoping to get some success this time. Let me know if anyone interested to work on this.

Thanks. Let me know your thoughts.

About Aravinda Vishwanathapura

Co-Founder & CTO at Kadalu Technologies, Creator of Sanka, Creator of Chitra, GlusterFS core team member, Maintainer of Kadalu Storage
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