Contributors to this page
Last update:

Extending the Monitoring Stack

This document provides instructions to extend the Shoot cluster monitoring stack by integrating new scrape targets, alerts and dashboards.

Please ensure that you have understood the basic principles of Prometheus and its ecosystem before you continue.

:bangbang: The purpose of the monitoring stack is to observe the behaviour of the control plane and the system components deployed by Gardener onto the worker nodes. Monitoring of custom workloads running in the cluster is out of scope.


Monitoring Architecture

Each Shoot cluster comes with its own monitoring stack. The following components are deployed into the seed and shoot:

In each Seed cluster there is a Prometheus in the garden namespace responsible for collecting metrics from the Seed kubelets and cAdvisors. These metrics are provided to each Shoot Prometheus via federation.

The alerts for all Shoot clusters hosted on a Seed are routed to a central Alertmanger running in the garden namespace of the Seed. The purpose of this central alertmanager is to forward all important alerts to the operators of the Gardener setup.

The Alertmanager in the Shoot namespace on the Seed is only responsible for forwarding alerts from its Shoot cluster to a cluster owner/cluster alert receiver via email. The Alertmanager is optional and the conditions for a deployment are already described here.

Adding New Monitoring Targets

After exploring the metrics which your component provides or adding new metrics, you should be aware which metrics are required to write the needed alerts and dashboards.

Prometheus prefers a pull based metrics collection approach and therefore the targets to observe need to be defined upfront. The targets are defined in charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/templates/config.yaml. New scrape jobs can be added in the section scrape_configs. Detailed information how to configure scrape jobs and how to use the kubernetes service discovery are available in the Prometheus documentation.

The job_name of a scrape job should be the name of the component e.g. kube-apiserver or vpn. The collection interval should be the default of 30s. You do not need to specify this in the configuration.

Please do not ingest all metrics which are provided by a component. Rather collect only those metrics which are needed to define the alerts and dashboards (i.e. whitelist). This can be achieved by adding the following metric_relabel_configs statement to your scrape jobs (replace exampleComponent with component name).

    - job_name: example-component
{{ include "prometheus.keep-metrics.metric-relabel-config" .Values.allowedMetrics.exampleComponent | indent 6 }}

The whitelist for the metrics of your job can be maintained in charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/values.yaml in section allowedMetrics.exampleComponent (replace exampleComponent with component name). Check the following example:

  * metrics_name_1
  * metrics_name_2

Adding Alerts

The alert definitons are located in charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/rules. There are two approaches for adding new alerts.

  1. Adding additional alerts for a component which already has a set of alerts. In this case you have to extend the existing rule file for the component.
  2. Adding alerts for a new component. In this case a new rule file with name scheme example-component.rules.yaml needs to be added.
  3. Add the new alert to, add any required inhibition flows and render the new graph. To render the graph run:
dot -Tpng ./content/ -o ./content/alertInhibitionGraph.png
  1. Create a test for the new alert. See Alert Tests.

Example alert:

* name: example.rules
  * alert: ExampleAlert
    expr: absent(up{job="exampleJob"} == 1)
    for: 20m
      service: example
      severity: critical # How severe is the alert? (blocker|critical|info|warning)
      type: shoot # For which topology is the alert relevant? (seed|shoot)
      visibility: all # Who should receive the alerts? (all|operator|owner)
      description: A longer description of the example alert that should also explain the impact of the alert.
      summary: Short summary of an example alert.

If the deployment of component is optional then the alert definitions needs to be added to charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/optional-rules instead. Furthermore the alerts for component need to be activatable in charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/values.yaml via rules.optional.example-component.enabled. The default should be true.

Basic instruction how to define alert rules can be found in the Prometheus documentation.

Routing tree

The Alertmanager is grouping incoming alerts based on labels into buckets. Each bucket has its own configuration like alert receivers, initial delaying duration or resending frequency etc. You can find more information about Alertmanager routing in the Prometheus/Alertmanager documentation. The routing trees for the Alertmanagers deployed by Gardener are depicted below.

Central Seed Alertmanager

∟ main route (all alerts for all shoots on the seed will enter)
  ∟ group by project and shoot name
    ∟ group by visibility "all" and "operator"
      ∟ group by severity "blocker", "critical", and "info" → route to Garden operators
      ∟ group by severity "warning" (dropped)
    ∟ group by visibility "owner" (dropped)

Shoot Alertmanager

∟ main route (only alerts for one Shoot will enter)
  ∟ group by visibility "all" and "owner"
    ∟ group by severity "blocker", "critical", and "info" → route to cluster alert receiver
    ∟ group by severity "warning" (dropped, will change soon → route to cluster alert receiver)
  ∟ group by visibility "operator" (dropped)

Alert Inhibition

All alerts related to components running on the Shoot workers are inhibited in case of an issue with the vpn connection, because those components can’t be scraped anymore and Prometheus will fire alerts in consequence. The components running on the workers are probably healthy and the alerts are presumably false positives. The inhibition flow is shown in the figure below. If you add a new alert make sure to add it to the diagram.


Alert Attributes

Each alert rule definition has to contain the following annotations:

  • summary: A short description of the issue.
  • description: A detailed explanation of the issue with hints to the possible root causes and the impact assessment of the issue.

In addtion each alert must contain the following labels:

  • type
    • shoot: Components running on the Shoot worker nodes in the kube-system namespace.
    • seed: Components running on the Seed in the Shoot namespace as part of/next to the control plane.
  • service
    • Name of the component (in lowercase) e.g. kube-apiserver, alertmanager or vpn.
  • severity
    • blocker: All issues which make the cluster entirely unusable e.g. KubeAPIServerDown or KubeSchedulerDown
    • critical: All issues which affect single functionalities/components but not affect the cluster in its core functionality e.g. VPNDown or KubeletDown.
    • info: All issues that do not affect the cluster or its core functionality, but if this component is down we cannot determine if a blocker alert is firing. (i.e. A component with an info level severity is a dependency for a component with a blocker severity)
    • warning: No current existing issue, rather a hint for situations which could lead to real issue in the close future e.g. HighLatencyApiServerToWorkers or ApiServerResponseSlow.

Alert Tests

Execute the tests in $GARDENERHOME/.ci/test or if you want to only test the Prometheus alerts:

# Install promtool
go get -u

# Move to seed-monitoring/prometheus chart
cd $GARDENERHOME/charts/seed-monitoring/charts/prometheus/

# Execute tests
promtool test rules rules-tests/*test.yaml

If you want to add alert tests:

  1. Create a new file in rules-tests in the form <alert-group-name>.rules.test.yaml or if the alerts are for an existing component with existing tests, simply add the tests to the appropriate files.

  2. Make sure that newly added tests succeed. See above.

Adding Grafana Dashboards

The dashboard definition files are located in charts/seed-monitoring/charts/grafana/dashboards. Every dashboard needs its own file.

If you are adding a new component dashboard please also update the overview dashboard by adding a chart for its current up/down status and with a drill down option to the component dashboard.

Dashboard Structure

The dashboards should be structured in the following way. The assignment of the component dashboards to the categories should be handled via dashboard tags.

  • Kubernetes control plane components (Tag: control-plane)
    • All components which are part of the Kubernetes control plane e. g. Kube API Server, Kube Controller Manager, Kube Scheduler and Cloud Controller Manager
    • ETCD + Backup/Restore
    • Kubernetes Addon Manager
  • Node/Machine components (Tag: node/machine)
    • All metrics which are related to the behaviour/control of the Kubernetes nodes and kubelets
    • Machine-Controller-Manager + Cluster Autoscaler
  • Networking components (Tag: network)
    • CoreDNS, KubeProxy, Calico, VPN, Nginx Ingress
  • Addon components (Tag: addon)
    • Cert Broker
  • Monitoring components (Tag: monitoring)
  • Logging components (Tag: logging)

Mandatory Charts for Component Dashboards

For each new component, its corresponding dashboard should contain the following charts in the first row, before adding custom charts for the component in the subsequent rows.

  1. Pod up/down status up{job="example-component"}
  2. Pod/containers cpu utilization
  3. Pod/containers memorty consumption
  4. Pod/containers network i/o

These information is provided by the cAdvisor metrics. These metrics are already integrated. Please check the other dashboards for detailed information on how to query.

Chart Requirements

Each chart needs to contain:

  • a meaningful name
  • a detailed description (for non trivial charts)
  • appropriate x/y axis descriptions
  • appropriate scaling levels for the x/y axis
  • proper units for the x/y axis
Dashboard Parameters

The following parameters should be added to all dashboards to ensure a homogeneous experience across all dashboards.

Dashboards have to …

  • contain a title which refers to the component name(s)
  • contain a timezone statement which should be the browser time
  • contain tags which express where the component is running (seed or shoot) and to which category the component belong (see dashboard structure)
  • contain a version statement with a value of 1
  • be immutable

Example dashboard configuration

  "title": "example-component",
  "timezone": "browser",
  "tags": [
  "version": 1,
  "editable": "false",

Furthermore all dashboards should contain the following time options:

  "time": {
    "from": "now-1h",
    "to": "now"
  "timepicker": {
    "refresh_intervals": [
    "time_options": [