Any time in your schedule? Try using a custom scheduler in Kubernetes

I’ve recently been interested in the idea of extending the scheduler in Kubernetes, there’s a number of reasons why, but at the top of my list is looking at re-scheduling failed pods based on custom metrics – specifically for high performance high availablity; like we need in telecom. In my search for learning more about it, I discovered the Kube docs for configuring multiple schedulers, and even better – a practical application, a toy scheduler created by the one-and-only-kube-hero Kelsey Hightower. It’s about a year old and Hightower is on his game, so he’s using alpha functionality at time of authoring. In this article I modernize at least a component to get it to run in the contemporary day. Today our goal is to run through the toy scheduler and have it schedule a pod for us. We’ll also dig into Kelsey’s go code for the scheduler a little bit to get an intro to what he’s doing.

Fire up your terminals, and let’s get ready to schedule some pods – with the NOT the default scheduler.

What, what’s a scheduler? crond?

Well, not crond, but, part of what makes Kubernetes be Kubernetes is its scheduler. A scheduler, according to Wikipedia, generically speaking is:

[A] method by which work specified by some means is assigned to resources that complete the work. The work may be virtual computation elements such as threads, processes or data flows, which are in turn scheduled onto hardware resources such as processors, network links or expansion cards

So in this case – the “work specified by some means” is our containers (usually Docker containers), and the resource they’re assigned do – are our nodes. That’s a big thing that Kube does for us – it assigns our containers to nodes, and makes sure that they’re running.

If you want to read more about exactly what the default scheduler in Kubernetes does, check out this readme file from the kube repos.


Simply have a Kubernetes 1.7 up and running for you. 1.6 might work, too. If you don’t have Kube running, may I suggest that you use my kube-centos-ansible playbooks, and follow my article about installing a kube cluster on centos (ignore that it says kube 1.5 – same steps will produce a 1.7 cluster).

Also, I use an all-CentOS 7 lab environment, and while it might not be required, note that it colors the ancillary tools and viewpoint from which I create this tutorial.

We’ll install a few deps, I wound up with a Go version 1.6.3, which appears to work fine, for your reference.

Install our deps

I’m performing these steps on my kube master, feel free to run them where’s appropriate for you. You’ll need to install some packages, and you’ll need to be able to use the kubectl utility in order to perform these.

Now, let’s go and install the deps we need:

[centos@kube-master ~]$ sudo yum install -y git golang tmux

Now, make yourself a dir for your go source.

[centos@kube-master ~]$ mkdir -p gocode/src

Clone and build the scheduler

Now let’s clone up Hightower’s code into there.

[centos@kube-master ~]$ cd gocode/src/
[centos@kube-master src]$ git clone
[centos@kube-master src]$ cd scheduler/
[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ pwd

Alright now that we’re there, first thing we’ll do is build the annotator.

[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ cd annotator/
[centos@kube-master annotator]$ go build
[centos@kube-master annotator]$ ls annotator -lh
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 centos centos 7.8M Jul 21 15:23 annotator

Which will produce a binary for us.

Now, go and build the scheduler proper.

[centos@kube-master annotator]$ cd ../
[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ go build
[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ ls scheduler -lh
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 centos centos 7.7M Jul 21 15:24 scheduler

Go makes it easy, right!?

Start your kubectl proxy

We need to run a kubectl proxy, which is a HTTP proxy to access the kube API – our scheduler here will rely on it.

Run tmux:

[centos@kube-master ~]$ tmux 

This will give you a new screen, in that screen run:

[centos@kube-master ~]$ kubectl proxy

You can exit this screen and let it keep running by hitting ctrl+b then d. To return to the screen execute tmux a.

Run the annotation

Alright, we’re going to create some “prices” for each of our nodes. The scheduler will use this and then start the pods on the node with the lowest price.

[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ cd annotator/
[centos@kube-master annotator]$ ./annotator 
kube-master 0.20
kube-minion-1 0.20
kube-minion-2 0.05
kube-minion-3 1.60

Each time you run the annotator, it’ll generate new prices for you. If you just want to list the prices, list them like so:

[centos@kube-master annotator]$ ./annotator -l
kube-master 0.20
kube-minion-1 0.20
kube-minion-2 0.05
kube-minion-3 1.60

Kick up a pod…

Alright, now create a resource definition yaml file with these contents:

[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ cat ~/nginx.yaml 
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
    app: nginx
  name: nginx
  replicas: 1
      #  "": hightower
        app: nginx
      name: nginx
      schedulerName: hightower
        - name: nginx
          image: "nginx:1.11.1-alpine"
              cpu: "500m"
              memory: "128M"

Hightower had been using the annotation earlier, but, this is now core functionality so what I’ve done that’s different is used the schedulerName property under the spec in the resource definition. As you can see it’s schedulerName: hightower (and hightower is set as a constant as scheduler name in the go code, more on that later)

Now, let’s create this pod:

[centos@kube-master annotator]$ kubectl create -f ~/nginx.yaml 
deployment "nginx" created

We can check out and see that this pod won’t scheduler, which is what we want for now:

[centos@kube-master annotator]$ watch -n1 kubectl get pods

And you might wanna describe it, too…

[centos@kube-master annotator]$ watch -n1 kubectl describe pod nginx-881608959-gwnll

Cool, good it shouldn’t have started yet.

Start the scheduler

Feel free to run this in a tmux screen, but, I ran it in it’s own window.

Fire it up!

[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ ./scheduler 
2017/07/21 15:32:36 Starting custom scheduler...
2017/07/21 15:32:38 Successfully assigned nginx-881608959-vk6t3 to kube-minion-2

Hurray! It scheduled it to kube-minion-2 if you look at our pricing output, you’ll see that is the lowest priced node when we generated prices. Run a kubectl get pods to double check and you can pick up the IP address with a kubectl describe $the_pod_name and curl it to your heart’s content.

If you want, destroy the pod with a:

[centos@kube-master scheduler]$ kubectl delete -f ~/nginx.yaml 

And generate new prices with ./annotator/annotator and run the scheduler again, and see it schedule it to another place when you kubectl create -f it.

Let’s inspect the toy scheduler go code.

So let’s take a look at the code in the toy scheduler. This is really a gloss-over, but maybe can help point you (and later me!) in the right direction to figure out more about how to use these concepts to our own advantages.

The files we’re interested in are:

(There’s also the ./annotator/annotator.go, which is a small util, feel free to poke at that too)

Generally, we have a main.go which is our handler, it starts up some goroutines that run two methods, both found in the process.go file:

These handle the goroutine logic (e.g. working with the wait group), perform a wait operation (I assume for polling for the rest of the logic), and then call the schedulePod() method also in processor.go.

The monitorUnscheduledPods() also calls the method watchUnscheduledPods() from kubernetes.go which is looking for those unscheduled pods for us (looks to be polling, but, there’s some things named “event” which makes me wonder if it has a watch on those events, I’m unsure and I didn’t dig further for now). The watchUnscheduledPods() method returns a channel to the pods it discovers.

When there’s a pod to be scheduled, finally a bind() method is called from kubernetes.go – this calls the binding core in Kubernetes API, which can bind a pod to a node, for example.

The processor also looks at the bestPrice() method, which is in bestprice.go – this look at the “prices” for each node and returns the lowest value price, this is how we determine which pod is going to go where.