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Playing with StatefulSets in Minishift

minishift stateful

The point of this article is to put down few notes about StatefulSets in Kubernetes aka in OpenShift.

The content is about deploying the demo application to the locally installed Minishift. The next step is to look at the OpenShift Statefulset drain controller as presented in the article of Marko Lukša.

StatefulSets and requirements

As the documentation says the StatefulSet is a workload API object used to manage stateful applications. It’s capable to manage pods useful for application which needs to pertain state. The StatefulSet operates under the same pattern as any other Controller which are (at this time) Deployment and (the default controller) ReplicationSet.

StatefulSet provides several guarantees - strict naming and ordering, stable persistent storage, unique network identifier. With merits it brings several limitations. From the perspective of the demo application, to be used in this text, I would mention * the need the storage to be provisioned with storage class * the need to define the headless service

Demo application from Kubernetes to Minishift

The blog post Kubernetes StatefulSet In Action perfectly describes all steps needed for running the demo app mehdb at Kubernetes but I have few doubts about OpenShift. Let’s summarize them.

First there is said that for the StatefulSets I need a StorageClass to provide the PersistentVolume. If you clone the mehdb repository you can find requirements of having defined ebs storage class in the application yaml declaration.

the storage class definition is not needed. The Minishift provides the PersistentVolume(PV) claimed by PersistentVolumeClaim(PVC) automatically In fact the necessary step is only to remove the line declaring the ebs storage class from the app.yaml file. But I thought it’s necessary to declare it…​

Storage class declaration

I defined the StorageClass from the existing PersistentVolumes, already pre-defined by the Minishift, as it’s described in the article Using Storage Classes for Existing Legacy Storage.

Minishift from the version 1.5 declares and dynamically provides PersistentVolumes named pv0001 to pv0100. You need to be with admin privileges to be permitted to look at them (while expecting your Minishift is already running).

# log in as the administrator
oc login -u system:admin
# listing available persistent volumes
oc get pv

For being able to connect the StorageClass with the existing PersistentVolume we delclare the StorageClass with no provisioner.

cat <<EOF | oc create -f -
kind: StorageClass
  name: ebs
provisioner: no-provisioning

We can now bound the existing PeristentVolume with the StorageClass. There is nice blogpost about changing existing OpenShift objects.

You can either use oc edit command.

# priting the PV object named 'pv0001'
oc get pv/pv0001 -o yaml
# edit the object
oc edit pv/pv0001
# edit the yaml file to contain content like
# ...
#  persistentVolumeReclaimPolicy: Recycle
#  storageClassName: ebs
# status:
#  phase: Available
# ...

Or you can update the the object specification by calling oc patch.

oc patch pv/pv0001 --patch '{"spec":{"storageClassName": "ebs"}}'

Without storage class declaration

As mentioned in note above I found out the storage class is not needed. I was fine just with removing the storage class declaration from the app.yaml of the mehdb application.

Running the Kubernetes StatefulSet In Action

Steps are nicely described in the blogpost. In direction to OpenShift/Minishift there is the only change of not using the kubectl command but oc command.

Instead of running

#  creating namespace
kubectl create ns mehdb
# applying the yaml declaration of the statefulset
git clone
cd mehdb
kubectl -n=mehdb apply -f app.yaml

you run

# kubernetes namespace matches the project in openshift
oc new-project mehdb
# that will switch you to the mehdb project but you can
# rather check your active project with command
oc project
# applying the yaml declaration of the statefulset
git clone
cd mehdb
# as you were switched to the the project mehdb
#  you don't need to use '-n mehdb' parameter
oc apply -f app.yaml

The app.yaml declares the StatefulSet controller with image to be loaded and the headless service as needed for the StatefulSet to work.

if you need to delete content from the project mehdb you can run bash oc delete all --all # or only to point to the StatefulSet itself # oc delete sts mehdb oc delete $(oc get pvc -o name)

Now you can go through the steps in the blogpost. I would special highlight the existence of the jump dockerized application which let you process a shell command at your wish

# showing the headless service returns both endpoints
#  (both pods) on DNS lookup
oc run -i -t --rm dnscheck --restart=Never\ -- nslookup mehdb

Scaling up and down is done through the StatefulSet controller with command

oc scale sts mehdb --replicas=3

Running the StatefulSet drain controller

The article Graceful scaledown of stateful apps in Kubernetes clearly defines the purpose for the drain controller. When said in short the stateful application sometimes need a way how to clear its data from the persistent volumes when it’s scaled down. Let’s say you have 3 pods and you want the application to scale down to two pods. If you do so there is left data on the persistent volume which belonged to the third pod already stopped. The data will be left there until you scale up to 3 again. What if you need to do some clearance, what if you do not plan to scale to 3 in short time? That’s where existence of the drain controller helps you.

The code of the drain controller in stage of proof-of-concept is available at (July 2018, hopefully it will be added to the Kubernetes).

If I take the mehdb example I need to make a change in the app.yaml file for the StatefulSet definition to contain binding to the drain controller. You can check my changes over here:

For the drain controller to drain data during application scale down it has to be defined and running. The drain controller can be defined either per cluster or per namespace. You can see the commands to define the drain controller either per cluster or per namespace at the For both cases you need the privileges to define a Role with permission to create pods.

Running mehdb example with StatefulSet drain controller

Let’s take a look on commands for get the drain controller running in mehdb demo application. The action which we define for the StatefulSet drain controller is pretty simple in our case as we want it to delete the content of the mehdb data directory with the command rm -rf $MEHDB_DATADIR/*. If we want to verify that the drain pod was really launched then we can save a data to the mehdb and then check if the directory of the scaled down pod was cleared - data does not occupy space anymore.

# switch to admin account with permissions to create the Roles
oc login -u system:admin
# creation of the drain controller per namespace
oc apply -f\

# upload the mehdb app.yaml definition containing the template for the drain controller
oc apply -f\

# check the running pods where drain controller should be listed
oc get po
> NAME                              READY  STATUS   RESTARTS  AGE
> mehdb-0                           1/1    Running  0         1h
> mehdb-1                           1/1    Running  0         1h
> statefulset-drain-controller-...  1/1    Running  0         1h

# scale the mehdb to 3 pods
oc scale sts mehdb --replicas=3

# in a different shell run a simple log checking script
while true; do oc logs mehdb-2 -f; if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
  sleep 1; echo "  ...sleeping 1"; fi; done

# now we can save a value to the mehdb with curl command
oc run -i -t --rm jumpod --restart=Never\
  -- curl --data "hello mehdb" -sL -XPUT  mehdb:9876/set/test
oc run -i -t --rm jumpod --restart=Never\
  -- curl -sL -XGET  mehdb:9876/get/test

# let's scale to two pods while taking a look on the `while cycle`
# which shows the logs of the mehdb-2 pods
oc scale sts mehdb --replicas=3

# you should see there the shell command saying
# > Datadir '/mehdbdata' content now:
# > /mehdbdata
# > /mehdbdata/test
# > /mehdbdata/test/content
# > Draining data... this takes 10 seconds!
# > /mehdbdata

# from that it can be observed that the StatefulSet drain controller were run
# and it has cleared the content of the /mehdbdata directory
#  to save the space on the drive


This was a quick testing of the StatefulSet running on the Minishift and using the StatefulSet drain controller proof-of-concept.

Published Aug 8, 2018

Developer notes.