In this series, we will introduce the observability features including monitoring, alerting, dashboards spanning the projects that comes with OpenShift, application projects that are deployed on OpenShift and the infrastructure resources that is supporting the cluster and in short focussed on the builtin features with in the OpenShift Container Platform (OCP). OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) is the leading hybrid cloud enterprise Kubernetes application platform.

OpenShift Platform Plus is a combination of OCP, ACM, ACS, Quay and ODF essentials is a superset and the associated observability features is deferred to the Part-2 in this series.

Current version of OCP right now is 4.13 and you can refer to this Red Hat OpenShift Observability Brings Flexible Insights to Management of Clusters to get a summary of the OCP Observability features introduced since 4.10.

Key Take aways in this blog:

  • Overview of the observability features available in OCP.
  • How to enable observability for user defined projects.
  • How to configure a simple alert rule and configure a notification.
  • Set of commonly used metrics for reference.
  • Useful links to dive deep in to the possibilities.

OpenShift Container Platform includes a pre-configured, pre-installed, and self-updating monitoring stack that is based on the Prometheus open source project and its wider ecosystem. It provides monitoring of cluster components and includes a set of alerts to immediately notify about any occurring problems and a set of Grafana dashboards. 

User Interface features can be seen under “Observe” options.

The point to be noted is that the OCP clusters automatically come with the certain set of preconfigured alert rules, dashboards and metrics based on the cluster features, additional configuration must be performed to enable these features for “user defined projects” which is pretty much any applications that run on top of the clusters. Good news is this is just a one time activity to be done on the cluster.

Now let us review the different Tabs under Observability.

Alerting :

The Alerting tab shows you information about currently configured alerting rules  and active alerts. As you can see the Alerting rules provides the flexibility to filter the rules by state, severity and source.

In the “Alerts” tab one can see the generated alerts and can filter at different states and severity.  

Metrics UI(Prometheus Console) :

In addition to the Alerting screen, OpenShift’s built-in monitoring provides an interface to access metrics collected by Prometheus using the Prometheus Query Language (PromQL). The "Metrics" menu provides a way develop custom queries against Prometheus/metrics to run or there is a long list of queries that are already included which can be used to make more custom dashboards.Providing two examples below and a set of key metrics is available in

Etcd Request Latency Query : sum by (le)(increase(etcd_request_duration_seconds_bucket{job=~"api.*"}[$__rate_interval]))

OpenShift Namespace Memory Usage 
Query: round((sum by (namespace) (container_memory_usage_bytes{namespace=~"openshift-.*"})) / 1024 / 1024)

Now let us look at how to enable monitoring for the user defined projects

To configure core OpenShift Container Platform monitoring components, you must create the cluster-monitoring-config ConfigMap object in the openshift-monitoring project.

This can be done by using oc command after logging in to the cluster or can be done through web console. Through the web console, the following object definition can be used

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
name: cluster-monitoring-config
namespace: openshift-monitoring
config.yaml: |
  enableUserWorkload: true

Note: you can also create a file for this object and apply through the oc command.

This automatically creates the Prometheus workload and Thanos workload instances for the user defined projects under the openshift-user-workload-monitoring project as in this figure



Creating a user-defined workload monitoring config map

This is an optional step but a best practice to be adopted to configure the components that monitor user-defined projects as seen in the above diagram, you must create the user-workload-monitoring-config ConfigMap object in the openshift-user-workload-monitoring project. 

For both the components at the OpenShift Monitoring and user defined monitoring components it is possible to configure a number of important features such as configuring persistent storage, node selectors to move monitoring components, configuring metrics collection profiles and more… 

Sample Alert rule creation scenario:

Create a project named “testalerts”

Create an application from the samples basic nodejs from the developers view on the console using default values.

You can see the application is successfully created with the routes.

Execute the route couple of times to generate some observability metrics.

Now you can go to the Observe view of the project to review the available dashboards.

Now let us create a new Alert rule - This will create an alert if the number of running pods exceeds 2.

kind: PrometheusRule
name: pod-alert
namespace: testalerts
- name: demoex
  - alert: "Too Many Pods"
    expr: count(kube_pod_info{pod =~"nodejs-basic.*", created_by_kind!="Build"}) > 2
      severity: 'warning'
      receiver: 'line'
      message: "too many running pods"


Now if you look at the Alert Rule tab you can this newly created “user” alert rule added

Now let us trigger the condition by increasing the running PODs to more than 2 to generate the Alert

Now you can see the generated “User” alert in the list of alerts


Go and reduce the number of running PODs to 1 or 2 , then the alert will stop firing and if you notice the Observe tab and look at the history for the last 5 minutes, you can see there is no current alert

OpenShift Observability - Monitoring and Alerts-Aug-08-2023-04-41-10-5530-PM

Alerts can also be routed to different receivers such as email,slack channel, pager duty and Web hook. This can be defined in Administration→Cluster Settings→Configuration→Alertmanager



Reference for how to integrate Slack channel as a receiver - 

Metrics Targets :

OpenShift Container Platform Monitoring collects metrics from targeted cluster components by scraping data from exposed service endpoints. The Metrics Targets page shows targets for default OpenShift Container Platform projects and for user-defined projects.

At project level , specific dashboards, metrics, alerts and events can be observed.

Alert routing for user-defined projects


In this article, we presented how the observability features can be leveraged as available with the OpenShift platform by focusing on a simple alert. The majority of observability features can be both defined and managed not only by the cluster administrator but also by the users of the different projects. Some useful references are provided below to dive deep into these features.

Please reach out to your Red Hat account team to discuss further.        


About the authors

Abay Radhakrishnan has more than 30 years of experience in the consulting, IT and software fields with focus on emerging technologies. He plays a unique combination of an enterprise architect and cloud strategy and solutions architect. As a technical management personnel, he has deep experience in defining, architecting, managing and implementing large-scale enterprise architectures and solutions.

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