kubernetes, monitoring, efk, alerting

Alerting on Kubernetes Events with EFK Stack

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You probably care about gathering application logs only. Still, since the application is running on Kubernetes, you could get a lot of information about what is happening in the cluster by gathering events as well. Whatever happens inside the cluster, an event is recorded. You can check those events with kubectl events, but they are short-lived. To search or alert on a particular activity, you need to store them in a central place first. Now, let's see how to do that and then how to configure alerts.

Storing Events In Elasticsearch

The main requirement for this setup is the Elasticsearch cluster. If you don't know how to run EFK stack on Kubernetes, I suggest that you go through my post Get Kubernetes Logs with EFK Stack in 5 Minutes to learn more about it. If you already use my helm chart to deploy EFK stack, you should know that I improved it and added a switch to enable gathering events as well. However, if you already have your "version" of the EFK cluster, you could install Elastic's Metricbeat agent and configure it to ship events to that cluster instead. So, assuming you already have EFK stack, go ahead and install Metricbeat with helm:

$ cat > values-metricbeat.yaml<<EOF 
  enabled: false

    setup.template.name: "kubernetes_events"
    setup.template.pattern: "kubernetes_events-*"
      hosts: ["http://elasticsearch-efk-cluster:9200"]
      index: "kubernetes_events-%{[beat.version]}-%{+yyyy.MM.dd}"
      enabled: false
      enabled: true
        - module: kubernetes
            - event

$ helm install --name events \
    --namespace logging \
    -f values-metricbeat.yaml \

NOTE: Use your hostname in the above configuration.

Events are available through Kubernetes API, and only one Metricbeat agent pod is enough to feed all events into the Elasticsarch. The next step is to configure Kibana for the new index. Go to settings, configure index to kubernetes_events-*, choose a @timestamp, and Kibana is ready. In the discovery tab, you should see all the events from all namespaces in your Kubernetes cluster. You can search for events as needed.

NOTE: Metricbeat adds quite a lot of fields, and by default, the Kibana wildcard search will not work as expected because it is limited to 1024 fields. You can still search a particular field, or increase the limit.

Configuring Alerts

Now when all events are indexed, you can send alerts when a particular query matches. After some research, I found ElastAlert quite excellent and simple to configure. You can install it with helm as well, again matching to your Elasticsearch host:

$ cat > values-elastalert.yaml<<EOF 
replicaCount: 1

  host: elasticsearch-efk-cluster
  port: 9200

realertIntervalMins: "0"

  k8s_events_killing_pod: |-
    name: Kubernetes Events
    index: kubernetes_events-*

    type: any

    - query:
          query: "kubernetes.event.message: Killing*probe*"
          analyze_wildcard: true

    - "slack"
    alert_text_type: exclude_fields
    alert_text: |
      Event count {0}
      Kind - {2}
      Name - {3}
    - kubernetes.event.count
    - kubernetes.event.message
    - kubernetes.event.involved_object.kind
    - kubernetes.event.involved_object.name

    slack_title: Kubernetes Events
    slack_title_link: <YOUR_KIBANA_URL_SAVED_SEARCH>
    slack_webhook_url: <YOUR_SLACK_URL>
    slack_msg_color: warning

$ helm install --name efk-alerts \
    --namespace logging \
    -f values-elastalert.yaml \

In the above example, I configured ElastAlert to send an alert to a Slack channel when the pod gets killed because of the liveness probe. You need to set slack_webhook_url and slack_title_link. For slack title link I usually put saved Kibana search URL that matches the same query kubernetes.event.message: Killing*probe*.

ElastAlert instance can be used to add other alerts as well, like matching particular application log messages. Just add a new alert rule to values-elastalert.yaml and upgrade the helm chart to configure it:

$ helm upgrade efk-alerts \
    --namespace logging \
    -f values-elastalert.yaml \

To learn more about all the options for ElastAlert, please check official documents. There are a lot of options and ways to configure it.


This article was just a short introduction to the primary use case where you want to gather all Kubernetes events in one place and to send an alert when a particular circumstance happens. I found it very useful, and I hope it will help you as well. Stay tuned for the next one.