This document outlines some of the configuration options that are supported by the OpenWhisk Helm chart. In general, you customize your deployment by adding stanzas to mycluster.yaml that override default values in the helm/openwhisk/values.yaml file.

Replication factor

By default the OpenWhisk Helm Chart will deploy a single replica of each of the micro-services that make up the OpenWhisk control plane. By changing the replicaCount value for a service, you can instead deploy multiple instances. This can support both increased scalability and fault tolerance. For example, to deploy two controller instances, add the following to your mycluster.yaml

  replicaCount: 2

NOTE: setting the replicaCount to be greater than 1 for the following components is not currently supported:

  • apigateway and redis. Running only a single replica of these services is unlikely to be a significant scalability bottleneck.
  • couchdb. For production deployments of OpenWhisk on Kubernetes, we strongly recomend running CouchDB externally to OpenWhisk as described below. An external CouchDB instance enables better management of the database and decouples its lifecycle from that of the OpenWhisk deployment.
  • The event providers: alarmprovider, cloudantprovider, and kafkaprovider.

Using an external database

You may want to use an external CouchDB or Cloudant instance instead of deploying a CouchDB instance as a Kubernetes pod as part of the same helm install as the rest of OpenWhisk. Using an external database is especially useful in production scenarios as it decouples the management of the database from that of the rest of the system. Decoupling the database increases operational flexibility, for example by enabling blue/green deployments of OpenWhisk using a shared database instance.

To use an externally deployed database, add a stanza like the one below to your mycluster.yaml, substituting in the appropriate values for <...>

  external: true
  host: <db hostname or ip addr>
  port: <db port>
  protocol: <"http" or "https">
    username: <username>
    password: <password>

If your external database has already been initialized for use by OpenWhisk, you can disable the Kubernetes Job that wipes and re-initializes the database by adding the following to your mycluster.yaml

  wipeAndInit: false

Please note, if you're using a version of CouchDB that has require_valid_user enabled, you need to disable it for the cluster to operate correctly. This is because the current version of the cloudant client expects it to be off by default.

Using an external redis

Similarly, you may want to use external Redis instance instead of using default single pod deployment. This is especially useful in production scenarios as a HA Redis deployment is recommended.

To use an externally deployed Redis, add a stanza like the one below to your mycluster.yaml, substituting in the appropriate values for <...>

  external: true
  host: <redis hostname or ip addr>
  port: <redis port>

Using an external kafka/zookeeper

To use an externally deployed kafka/zookeeper instead of using default single pod deployment, add a stanza like the one below to your mycluster.yaml, substituting in the appropriate values for <...>

  external: true
  connect_string: <zookeeper connect string>
  host: <the first instance of zookeeper>

  external: true
  connect_string: <kafka connect string>

Using activation store backend: ElasticSearch

Currently, deploy-kube uses CouchDB for activation store backend by default, If you want to change it to ElasticSearch, just change

activationStoreBackend: "ElasticSearch"

If you want to use an externally deployed ElasticSearch for activation store backend, add a stanza like the one below to your mycluster.yaml, substituting in the appropriate values for <...>

activationStoreBackend: "ElasticSearch"
  external: true
  connect_string: <elasticsearch connect string>
  protocol: <"http" or "https">
  host: <the first instance of elasticsearch>
  indexPattern: <the indexPattern for activation index>
  username: <elasticsearch username>
  password: <elasticsearch username>


Several of the OpenWhisk components that are deployed by the Helm chart utilize PersistentVolumes to store their data. This enables that data to survive failures/restarts of those components without a complete loss of application state. To support this, the couchdb, zookeeper, kafka, and redis deployments all generate PersistentVolumeClaims that must be satisfied to enable their pods to be scheduled. If your Kubernetes cluster is properly configured to support Dynamic Volume Provision, including having a DefaultStorageClass admission controller and a designated default StorageClass, then this will all happen seamlessly.

See NFS Dynamis Storage Provisioning for one approach to provisioning dynamic storage if it's not already provisioned on your cluster.

If your cluster is not thus configured and you want to use persistence, then you will need to add the following stanza to your mycluster.yaml.

    hasDefaultStorageClass: false
    explicitStorageClass: <DESIRED_STORAGE_CLASS_NAME>

If <DESIRED_STORAGE_CLASS_NAME> has a dynamic provisioner, deploying the Helm chart will automatically create the required PersistentVolumes. If <DESIRED_STORAGE_CLASS_NAME> does not have a dynamic provisioner, then you will need to manually create the required persistent volumes.

Alternatively, you may also entirely disable the usage of persistence by adding the following stanza to your mycluster.yaml:

    enabled: false

Selectively Deploying Event Providers

The default settings of the Helm chart will deploy OpenWhisk's alarm, cloudant, and kafka event providers. If you want to disable the deployment of one or more event providers, you can add a stanza to your mycluster.yaml for example:

    enabled: false

will disable the deployment of the alarm provider.

Invoker Container Factory

The Invoker is responsible for creating and managing the containers that OpenWhisk creates to execute the user defined functions. A key function of the Invoker is to manage a cache of available warm containers to minimize cold starts of user functions. Architecturally, we support two options for deploying the Invoker component on Kubernetes (selected by picking a ContainerFactoryProviderSPI for your deployment).

  1. DockerContainerFactory matches the architecture used by the non-Kubernetes deployments of OpenWhisk. In this approach, an Invoker instance runs on every Kubernetes worker node that is being used to execute user functions. The Invoker directly communicates with the docker daemon running on the worker node to create and manage the user function containers. The primary advantages of this configuration are lower latency on container management operations and robustness of the code paths being used (since they are the same as in the default system). The primary disadvantages are (1) that it does not leverage Kubernetes to simplify resource management, security configuration, etc. for user containers and (2) it cannot be used if the underlying container engine is containerd or cri-o.
  2. KubernetesContainerFactory is a truly Kubernetes-native design where although the Invoker is still responsible for managing the cache of available user containers, the Invoker relies on Kubernetes to create, schedule, and manage the Pods that contain the user function containers. The pros and cons of this design are roughly the inverse of DockerContainerFactory. Kubernetes pod management operations have higher latency and without additional configuration (see below) can result in poor performance. However, this design fully leverages Kubernetes to manage the execution resources for user functions.

You can control the selection of the ContainerFactory by adding either

    impl: "docker"


    impl: "kubernetes"

to your mycluster.yaml

For scalability, you will probably want to use replicaCount to deploy more than one Invoker when using the KubernetesContainerFactory. You will also need to override the value of whisk.containerPool.userMemory to a significantly larger value when using the KubernetesContainerFactory to better match the overall memory available on invoker worker nodes divided by the number of Invokers you are creating.

When using the KubernetesContainerFactory, the invoker uses the Kubernetes API server to extract logs from the user action containers. This operation has high overhead and if user actions produce non-trivial amounts of logging output can result in a severe performance degradation. To mitigate this, you should configure an alternate implementation of the LoggingProvider SPI. For example, you can completely disable OpenWhisk's log processing and rely on Kubernetes-level logs of the action containers by adding the following to your mycluster.yaml:

  options: "-Dwhisk.spi.LogStoreProvider=org.apache.openwhisk.core.containerpool.logging.LogDriverLogStoreProvider"

User action container DNS

By default, your user actions containers will be configured to use the same DNS nameservers, search path, and options as the Invoker pod that spawned them. If you want to override this default when using the DockerContainerFactory, you can set invoker.containerFactory.networkConfig.dns.inheritInvokerConfig to false and explicitly configure the child values of invoker.containerFactory.networkConfig.dns.overrides instead.

User action container network isolation

By default, a set of NetworkPolicy objects will be configured to isolate pods running user actions from each other and from the back-end pods of the OpenWhisk control plane. If you want to disable this network isolation, set invoker.containerFactory.kubernetes.isolateUserActions to false.

Customizing probes setting

Many openwhisk components has liveness and readiness probes configured. Sometimes it is observed that components do not come up or in ready state before the probes starts executing which causes pods to restarts or fail. You can configure probes timing settings like initialDelaySeconds, periodSeconds and timeoutSeconds in mycluster.yaml

      initialDelaySeconds: <number of seconds>
      periodSeconds: <number of seconds>
      timeoutSeconds: <number of seconds>

Note: currently, probes settings are available for zookeeper and controllers only.

Metrics and prometheus support

OpenWhisk distinguishes between system and user metrics. System metrics typically contain information about system performance and use Kamon to collect. User metrics encompass information about action performance which is sent to Kafka in a form of events.

System metrics

If you want to collect system metrics, store and display them with prometheus, use below configuration in mycluster.yaml:

  prometheusEnabled: true

This will automatically spin up a Prometheus server inside your cluster that will start scraping controller and invoker metrics.

You can access Prometheus by using port forwarding:

kubectl port-forward svc/owdev-prometheus-server 9090:9090 --namespace openwhisk

User metrics

If you want to enable user metrics, use the below configuration in mycluster.yaml:

  userMetricsEnabled: true

This will install User-events, Prometheus and Grafana on your cluster with already preconfigured Grafana dashboards for visualizing user generated metrics.

The dashboards can be accessed here:


All dashboards can be viewed anonymously and by default admin Grafana credentials are admin/admin. Use the bellow configuration in mycluster.yaml to change Grafana's admin password:

  adminPassword: admin

Configure pod disruptions budget

To avoid openwhisk components from voluntary and nonvoluntary disruptions which are managed by Kubernetes built-in controllers, you can configure PDB in mycluster.yaml.

  enable: true
    maxUnavailable: 1
    maxUnavailable: 1

Currently, you can configure PDB for below components.

  • Zookeeper
  • Kafka
  • Controller
  • Invoker


  • You can specify numbers of maxUnavailable Pods for now as integer. % values are not supported.
  • minAvailable is not supported
  • PDB only applicable when components replicaCount is > 1.
  • Invoker PDB only applicable if containerFactory implementation is of type “kubernetes” and replicaCount is > 1.