Node Shutdowns

In a Kubernetes cluster, a node can be shutdown in a planned graceful way or unexpectedly because of reasons such as a power outage or something else external. A node shutdown could lead to workload failure if the node is not drained before the shutdown. A node shutdown can be either graceful or non-graceful.

Graceful node shutdown

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.21 [beta]

The kubelet attempts to detect node system shutdown and terminates pods running on the node.

Kubelet ensures that pods follow the normal pod termination process during the node shutdown. During node shutdown, the kubelet does not accept new Pods (even if those Pods are already bound to the node).

The Graceful node shutdown feature depends on systemd since it takes advantage of systemd inhibitor locks to delay the node shutdown with a given duration.

Graceful node shutdown is controlled with the GracefulNodeShutdown feature gate which is enabled by default in 1.21.

Note that by default, both configuration options described below, shutdownGracePeriod and shutdownGracePeriodCriticalPods are set to zero, thus not activating the graceful node shutdown functionality. To activate the feature, the two kubelet config settings should be configured appropriately and set to non-zero values.

Once systemd detects or notifies node shutdown, the kubelet sets a NotReady condition on the Node, with the reason set to "node is shutting down". The kube-scheduler honors this condition and does not schedule any Pods onto the affected node; other third-party schedulers are expected to follow the same logic. This means that new Pods won't be scheduled onto that node and therefore none will start.

The kubelet also rejects Pods during the PodAdmission phase if an ongoing node shutdown has been detected, so that even Pods with a toleration for do not start there.

At the same time when kubelet is setting that condition on its Node via the API, the kubelet also begins terminating any Pods that are running locally.

During a graceful shutdown, kubelet terminates pods in two phases:

  1. Terminate regular pods running on the node.
  2. Terminate critical pods running on the node.

Graceful node shutdown feature is configured with two KubeletConfiguration options:

  • shutdownGracePeriod:
    • Specifies the total duration that the node should delay the shutdown by. This is the total grace period for pod termination for both regular and critical pods.
  • shutdownGracePeriodCriticalPods:
    • Specifies the duration used to terminate critical pods during a node shutdown. This value should be less than shutdownGracePeriod.

For example, if shutdownGracePeriod=30s, and shutdownGracePeriodCriticalPods=10s, kubelet will delay the node shutdown by 30 seconds. During the shutdown, the first 20 (30-10) seconds would be reserved for gracefully terminating normal pods, and the last 10 seconds would be reserved for terminating critical pods.

Pod Priority based graceful node shutdown

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.24 [beta]

To provide more flexibility during graceful node shutdown around the ordering of pods during shutdown, graceful node shutdown honors the PriorityClass for Pods, provided that you enabled this feature in your cluster. The feature allows cluster administers to explicitly define the ordering of pods during graceful node shutdown based on priority classes.

The Graceful Node Shutdown feature, as described above, shuts down pods in two phases, non-critical pods, followed by critical pods. If additional flexibility is needed to explicitly define the ordering of pods during shutdown in a more granular way, pod priority based graceful shutdown can be used.

When graceful node shutdown honors pod priorities, this makes it possible to do graceful node shutdown in multiple phases, each phase shutting down a particular priority class of pods. The kubelet can be configured with the exact phases and shutdown time per phase.

Assuming the following custom pod priority classes in a cluster,

Pod priority class namePod priority class value

Within the kubelet configuration the settings for shutdownGracePeriodByPodPriority could look like:

Pod priority class valueShutdown period
10000010 seconds
10000180 seconds
1000120 seconds
060 seconds

The corresponding kubelet config YAML configuration would be:

  - priority: 100000
    shutdownGracePeriodSeconds: 10
  - priority: 10000
    shutdownGracePeriodSeconds: 180
  - priority: 1000
    shutdownGracePeriodSeconds: 120
  - priority: 0
    shutdownGracePeriodSeconds: 60

The above table implies that any pod with priority value >= 100000 will get just 10 seconds to stop, any pod with value >= 10000 and < 100000 will get 180 seconds to stop, any pod with value >= 1000 and < 10000 will get 120 seconds to stop. Finally, all other pods will get 60 seconds to stop.

One doesn't have to specify values corresponding to all of the classes. For example, you could instead use these settings:

Pod priority class valueShutdown period
100000300 seconds
1000120 seconds
060 seconds

In the above case, the pods with custom-class-b will go into the same bucket as custom-class-c for shutdown.

If there are no pods in a particular range, then the kubelet does not wait for pods in that priority range. Instead, the kubelet immediately skips to the next priority class value range.

If this feature is enabled and no configuration is provided, then no ordering action will be taken.

Using this feature requires enabling the GracefulNodeShutdownBasedOnPodPriority feature gate, and setting ShutdownGracePeriodByPodPriority in the kubelet config to the desired configuration containing the pod priority class values and their respective shutdown periods.

Metrics graceful_shutdown_start_time_seconds and graceful_shutdown_end_time_seconds are emitted under the kubelet subsystem to monitor node shutdowns.

Non-graceful node shutdown handling

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.28 [stable]

A node shutdown action may not be detected by kubelet's Node Shutdown Manager, either because the command does not trigger the inhibitor locks mechanism used by kubelet or because of a user error, i.e., the ShutdownGracePeriod and ShutdownGracePeriodCriticalPods are not configured properly. Please refer to above section Graceful Node Shutdown for more details.

When a node is shutdown but not detected by kubelet's Node Shutdown Manager, the pods that are part of a StatefulSet will be stuck in terminating status on the shutdown node and cannot move to a new running node. This is because kubelet on the shutdown node is not available to delete the pods so the StatefulSet cannot create a new pod with the same name. If there are volumes used by the pods, the VolumeAttachments will not be deleted from the original shutdown node so the volumes used by these pods cannot be attached to a new running node. As a result, the application running on the StatefulSet cannot function properly. If the original shutdown node comes up, the pods will be deleted by kubelet and new pods will be created on a different running node. If the original shutdown node does not come up, these pods will be stuck in terminating status on the shutdown node forever.

To mitigate the above situation, a user can manually add the taint with either NoExecute or NoSchedule effect to a Node marking it out-of-service. If the NodeOutOfServiceVolumeDetachfeature gate is enabled on kube-controller-manager, and a Node is marked out-of-service with this taint, the pods on the node will be forcefully deleted if there are no matching tolerations on it and volume detach operations for the pods terminating on the node will happen immediately. This allows the Pods on the out-of-service node to recover quickly on a different node.

During a non-graceful shutdown, Pods are terminated in the two phases:

  1. Force delete the Pods that do not have matching out-of-service tolerations.
  2. Immediately perform detach volume operation for such pods.

Forced storage detach on timeout

In any situation where a pod deletion has not succeeded for 6 minutes, kubernetes will force detach volumes being unmounted if the node is unhealthy at that instant. Any workload still running on the node that uses a force-detached volume will cause a violation of the CSI specification, which states that ControllerUnpublishVolume "must be called after all NodeUnstageVolume and NodeUnpublishVolume on the volume are called and succeed". In such circumstances, volumes on the node in question might encounter data corruption.

The forced storage detach behaviour is optional; users might opt to use the "Non-graceful node shutdown" feature instead.

Force storage detach on timeout can be disabled by setting the disable-force-detach-on-timeout config field in kube-controller-manager. Disabling the force detach on timeout feature means that a volume that is hosted on a node that is unhealthy for more than 6 minutes will not have its associated VolumeAttachment deleted.

After this setting has been applied, unhealthy pods still attached to a volumes must be recovered via the Non-Graceful Node Shutdown procedure mentioned above.

What's next

Learn more about the following:

Last modified April 24, 2024 at 12:43 AM PST: Move node shutdown section to cluster-administration (f32bcaf081)