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RabbitMQ Kubernetes Operator reaches 1.0

November 17, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the RabbitMQ Operator for Kubernetes is now generally available. The RabbitMQ Operator makes it easy to provision and manage RabbitMQ clusters consistently on any certified Kubernetes distribution. Operators inform the Kubernetes container orchestration system how to provision and control specific applications. The Kubernetes (hereafter K8s) Operator pattern is a way to extend the K8s API and state management to include the provisioning and management of custom resources – resources not provided in a default K8s deployment. In this post, we’ll discuss how the Operator enables the K8s system to control a RabbitMQ cluster.

Where do I start?

If you are new to K8s, start with learning the basics of K8s and kubectl before attempting to use the operator. You can also visit the Kube Academy for more in-depth primers. Watch this episode of TGIR to see how easy it is to deploy and monitor a RabbitMQ cluster with the operator. Next you can try the quick start guide. In a minute or two you will have the operator and your first instance of operator created rabbitMQ cluster.

Want to go further? Look at the operator yaml examples for quick deployment of advanced clusters. For the entire set of supported features, look at the documentation.

The Rabbit K8s Operator

It’s recommended that you first be familiar with the basics of K8s. If you need a refresher, VMware’s Kube Academy has a comprehensive set of resources. The Rabbit MQ K8s operator is composed of 2 building blocks:

What’s the value of a RabbitMQ Cluster Operator?

The RabbitMQ Cluster Operator (aka the operator) is a bridge between K8s managed states and RabbitMQ configuration and state. The RabbitMQ Cluster Operator helps to simplify two types of tasks:

Provisioning of a new RabbitMQ cluster

Creating a new RabbitMQ cluster on K8s manually is a multi step process, that the operator is automating:

  1. Creating the RabbitMQ configuration file as a ConfigMap, so that is can be mounted as a file by the RabbitMQ container
  2. Setting the K8s secrets required by RabbitMQ (TLS certificates, default user password etc)
  3. Creating a StatefulSet that will manage the cluster nodes (as pods)
  4. Creating a headless service(a service without a cluster IP) to manage rabbitMQ node discovery
  5. Creating a service for RabbitMQ clients to access the cluster

The operator is not the only way to automate this process, but it has the benefit of mapping all the RabbitMQ configurations into a k8s descriptor and a custom resource. This means that there is a single source of truth regarding the cluster state, and users can manage their clusters configurations using Gitops.

By using an operator to provision RabbitMQ clusters, the user enjoys several benefits:

While the operator is useful for day 1 tasks, it confers even greater benefits when we talk about day 2 operations triggered by the user or by k8s.

Post Installation Tasks

Having a RabbitMQ cluster provisioned is just the beginning of the journey as any developer and operator knows. There are various lifecycle events to take care of:

Many of the above processes require graceful termination of a node, some RabbitMQ API call after node start, or more complex flows that have a sequence of K8s lifecycle events and RabbitMQ cluster events.This is exactly where the value of the operator stands out.

The operator now supports the core of day 2 RabbitMQ operations such as:

In the future, the operator can be upgraded to provide new flows. For example, a new version of the operator may be released with a new major version of RabbitMQ. The use of the operator pattern means we can provide specific logic to, say, upgrade the existing RabbitMQ clusters to a new major version without losing messages and without downtime. The existence of a new operator version does not force users to upgrade existing clusters; K8s will still be able to manage these clusters going forward.

It is only a K8s operator that can automate such complex and delicate processes in such an elegant way and without a risk. Here’s an example of how RabbitMQ will save users from pain and errors by automating the process of in-place upgrade. The diagram lists the manual steps a user need to perform in order to have a rolling upgrade of the cluster (without an operator).

Now watch as Gerhard covers more advanced topics in running RabbitMQ reliably on K8s.

But wait - there’s more

The operator comes with a kubectl plugin that provides many commands to make your life easier. As described here, you can install the kubectl plugin using krew. Some handy commands are installing the cluster operator as well as creating, listing and deleting RabbitMQ clusters. Other commands targeting a specific RabbitMQ cluster include printing the default user secret, opening the RabbitMQ management UI, enabling debug logging on all RabbitMQ nodes, and running perf-test.

What’s next?

The Cluster Operator gives users a lot of power to create clusters and manage them. There is still a wider scope of functionality to support, depending on your requests and feedback.

Some examples are:

In addition, we plan to add another operator that will wrap some of RabbitMQ’s APIs with K8s declarative API, allowing for creation of users, queues and exchanges.

We welcome feedback, feature requests, bug reports and any questions you have regarding RabbitMQ:

Written by: Yaron Parasol

Categories: Kubernetes New Features