Operator Maintenance Guide

This document is intended for operators. For a developer guide see the Developer / Operator Quick Start Guide in this documentation repository. For an end-user guide, please see the Basic Load Balancing Cookbook in this documentation repository.


Monitoring Load Balancer Amphora

Octavia will monitor the load balancing amphorae itself and initiate failovers and/or replacements if they malfunction. Therefore, most installations won’t need to monitor the amphorae running the load balancer.

Octavia will log each failover to the corresponding health manager logs. It is advisable to use log analytics to monitor failover trends to notice problems in the OpenStack installation early. We have seen neutron (network) connectivity issues, Denial of Service attacks, and nova (compute) malfunctions lead to a higher than normal failover rate. Alternatively, the monitoring of the other services showed problems as well, so depending on your overall monitoring strategy this might be optional.

If additional monitoring is necessary, review the corresponding calls on the amphora agent REST interface (see Octavia HAProxy Amphora API)

Monitoring Pool Members

Octavia will use the health information from the underlying load balancing subsystems to determine the health of members. This information will be streamed to the Octavia database and made available via the status tree or other API methods. For critical applications we recommend to poll this information in regular intervals.

Monitoring Load Balancers

You should monitor the provisioning status of a load balancer, and send alerts if the provisioning status is not ACTIVE. Alerts should not be triggered when an application is making regular changes to the pool and enters several PENDING stages.

The provisioning status of load balancer objects reflect the status of the control plane being able to contact and successfully provision a create, update, and delete request. The operating status of a load balancer object reports on the current functional status of the load balancer.

For example, a load balancer might have a provisioning status of ERROR, but an operating status of ONLINE. This could be caused by a neutron networking failure that blocked that last requested update to the load balancer configuration from successfully completing. In this case the load balancer is continuing to process traffic through the load balancer, but might not have applied the latest configuration updates yet.

A load balancer in a PENDING provisioning status is immutable, it cannot be updated or deleted by another process, this PENDING status acts as a lock on the resource. If a database outage occurs while a load balancer is deleted, created or updated, the Octavia control plane will try to remove the PENDING status and set it to ERROR during a long period of time (around 2h45min with the default settings), to prevent the resource from remaining immutable.

Monitoring load balancer functionality

You can monitor the operational status of your load balancer using the openstack loadbalancer status show command. It reports the current operation status of the load balancer and its child objects.

You might also want to use an external monitoring service that connects to your load balancer listeners and monitors them from outside of the cloud. This type of monitoring indicates if there is a failure outside of Octavia that might impact the functionality of your load balancer, such as router failures, network connectivity issues, and so on.

Monitoring Octavia Control Plane

To monitor the Octavia control plane we recommend process monitoring of the main Octavia processes:

  • octavia-api

  • octavia-worker

  • octavia-health-manager

  • octavia-housekeeping

The Monasca project has a plugin for such monitoring (see Monasca Octavia plugin). Please refer to this project for further information.

Octavia’s control plane components are shared nothing and can be scaled linearly. For high availability of the control plane we recommend to run at least one set of components in each availability zone. Furthermore, the octavia-api endpoint could be behind a load balancer or other HA technology. That said, if one or more components fail the system will still be available (though potentially degraded). For instance if you have installed one set of components in each of the three availability zones even if you lose a whole zone Octavia will still be responsive and available - only if you lose the Octavia control plane in all three zones will the service be unavailable. Please note this only addresses control plane availability; the availability of the load balancing function depends highly on the chosen topology and the anti-affinity settings. See our forthcoming HA guide for more details.

Additionally, we recommend to monitor the Octavia API endpoint(s). There currently is no special url to use so just polling the root URL in regular intervals is sufficient.

There is a host of information in the log files which can be used for log analytics. A few examples of what could be monitored are:

  • Amphora Build Rate - to determine load of the system

  • Amphora Build Time - to determine how long it takes to build an amphora

  • Failures/Errors - to be notified of system problems early

Rotating the Amphora Images

Octavia will start load balancers with a pre-built image which contain the amphora agent, a load balancing application, and are seeded with cryptographic certificates through the config drive at start up.

Rotating the image means making a load balancer amphora running with an old image failover to an amphora with a new image. This should be without any measurable interruption in the load balancing functionality when using ACTIVE/STANDBY topology. Standalone load balancers might experience a short outage.

Here are some reasons you might need to rotate the amphora image:

  • There has been a (security) update to the underlying operating system

  • You want to deploy a new version of the amphora agent or haproxy

  • The cryptographic certificates and/or keys on the amphora have been compromised.

  • Though not related to rotating images, this procedure might be invoked if you are switching to a different flavor for the underlying virtual machine.

Preparing a New Amphora Image

To prepare a new amphora image you will need to use diskimage-create.sh as described in the README in the diskimage-create directory.

For instance, in the octavia/diskimage-create directory, run:


Once you have created a new image you will need to upload it into glance. The following shows how to do this if you have set the image tag in the Octavia configuration file. Make sure to use a user with the same tenant as the Octavia service account:

openstack image create --file amphora-x64-haproxy.qcow2 \
--disk-format qcow2 --tag <amphora-image-tag> --private \
--container-format bare /var/lib/octavia/amphora-x64-haproxy.qcow2

If you didn’t configure image tags and instead configured an image id, you will need to update the Octavia configuration file with the new id and restart the Octavia services (except octavia-api).

Generating a List of Load Balancers to Rotate

The easiest way to generate a list, is to just list the IDs of all load balancers:

openstack loadbalancer list -c id -f value

Take note of the IDs.

Rotating a Load Balancer

Octavia has an API call to initiate the failover of a load balancer:

openstack loadbalancer failover <loadbalancer id>

You can observe the failover by querying octavia openstack load balancer show  <loadbalancer id> until the load balancer goes ACTIVE again.

Best Practices/Optimizations

Since a failover puts significant load on the OpenStack installation by creating new virtual machines and ports, it should either be done at a very slow pace, during a time with little load, or with the right throttling enabled in Octavia. The throttling will make sure to prioritize failovers higher than other operations and depending on how many failovers are initiated this might crowd out other operations.

Rotating Cryptographic Certificates

Octavia secures the communication between the amphora agent and the control plane with two-way SSL encryption. To accomplish that, several certificates are distributed in the system:

  • Control plane:

    • Amphora certificate authority (CA) certificate: Used to validate amphora certificates if Octavia acts as a Certificate Authority to issue new amphora certificates

    • Client certificate: Used to authenticate with the amphora

  • Amphora:

    • Client CA certificate: Used to validate control plane client certificate

    • Amphora certificate: Presented to control plane processes to prove amphora identity.

The heartbeat UDP packets emitted from the amphora are secured with a symmetric encryption key. This is set by the configuration option heartbeat_key in the health_manager section. We recommend setting it to a random string of a sufficient length.

Rotating Amphora Certificates

For the server part Octavia will act as a certificate authority itself to issue amphora certificates to be used by each amphora. Octavia will also monitor those certificates and refresh them before they expire.

There are three ways to initiate a rotation manually:

  • Change the expiration date of the certificate in the database. Octavia will then rotate the amphora certificates with newly issued ones. This requires the following:

    • Client CA certificate hasn’t expired or the corresponding client certificate on the control plane hasn’t been issued by a different client CA (in case the authority was compromised)

    • The Amphora CA certificate on the control plane didn’t change in any way which jeopardizes validation of the amphora certificate (e.g. the certificate was reissued with a new private/public key)

  • If the amphora CA changed in a way which jeopardizes validation of the amphora certificate an operator can manually upload newly issued amphora certificates by switching off validation of the old amphora certificate. This requires a client certificate which can be validated by the client CA file on the amphora. Refer to Octavia HAProxy Amphora API for more details.

  • If the client certificate on the control plane changed in a way that it can’t be validated by the client certificate authority certificate on the amphora, a failover (see Rotating Amphora Certificates) of all amphorae needs to be initiated. Until the failover is completed the amphorae can’t be controlled by the control plane.

Rotating the Certificate Authority Certificates

If there is a compromise of the certificate authorities’ certificates, or they expired, new ones need to be installed into the system. If Octavia is not acting as the certificate authority only the certificate authority’s cert needs to be changed in the system so amphora can be authenticated again.

  • Issue new certificates (see the script in the bin folder of Octavia if Octavia is acting as the certificate authority) or follow the instructions of the third-party certificate authority. Copy the certificate and the private key (if Octavia acts as a certificate authority) where Octavia can find them.

  • If the previous certificate files haven’t been overridden, adjust the paths to the new certs in the configuration file and restart all Octavia services (except octavia-api).

Review Rotating Amphora Certificates above to determine if and how the amphora certificates needs to be rotated.

Rotating Client Certificates

If the client certificates expired new ones need to be issued and installed on the system:

  • Issue a new client certificate (see the script in the bin folder of Octavia if self signed certificates are used) or use the ones provided to you by your certificate authority.

  • Copy the new cert where Octavia can find it.

  • If the previous certificate files haven’t been overridden, adjust the paths to the new certs in the configuration file. In all cases restart all Octavia services except octavia-api.

If the client CA certificate has been replaced in addition to rotating the client certificate the new client CA certificate needs to be installed in the system. After that initiate a failover of all amphorae to distribute the new client CA cert. Until the failover is completed the amphorae can’t be controlled by the control plane.

Changing The Heartbeat Encryption Key

Special caution needs to be taken to replace the heartbeat encryption key. Once this is changed Octavia can’t read any heartbeats and will assume all amphora are in an error state and initiate an immediate failover.

In preparation, read the chapter on Best Practices/Optimizations in the Failover section.

Given the risks involved with changing this key it should not be changed during routine maintenance but only when a compromise is strongly suspected.


For future versions of Octavia an “update amphora” API is planned which will allow this key to be changed without failover. At that time there would be a procedure to halt health monitoring while the keys are rotated and then resume health monitoring.

Handling a VM Node Failure

If a node fails which is running amphora, Octavia will automatically failover the amphora to a different node (capacity permitting). In some cases, the node can be recovered (e.g. through a hard reset) and the hypervisor might bring back the amphora vms. In this case, an operator should manually delete all amphora on this specific node since Octavia assumes they have been deleted as part of the failover and will not touch them again.


As a safety measure an operator can, prior to deleting, manually check if the VM is in use. First, use the Amphora API to obtain the current list of amphorae, then match the nova instance ID to the compute_id column in the amphora API response (it is not currently possible to filter amphora by compute_id). If there are any matches where the amphora status is not ‘DELETED’, the amphora is still considered to be in use.

Evacuating a Specific Amphora from a Host

In some cases an amphora needs to be evacuated either because the host is being shutdown for maintenance or as part of a failover. Octavia has a rich amphora API to do that.

First use the amphora API to find the specific amphora. Then, if not already performed, disable scheduling to this host in nova. Lastly, initiate a failover of the specific amphora with the failover command on the amphora API.

Alternatively, a live migration might also work if it happens quick enough for Octavia not to notice a stale amphora (the default configuration is 60s).