Scaling-up OpenWhisk Deployment on custom-built-kubernetes cluster


The default configurations of openwhisk deployment, support low concurrency-limit which can only be used for testing purposes. This document outlines how this concurrency-limit can be increased to scale-up openwhisk deployment for more practical use, on custom-built-kubernetes cluster. Also, provides information regarding some issues one might encounter while scaling-up.


Small Scale

By default, openwhisk deployment is configured to provide a bare-minimum working platform for testing and exploration. For your specialized workloads, you can scale-up your openwhisk deployment by defining your deployment configurations in your mycluster.yaml which overrides the defaults in helm/openwhisk/values.yaml. Some important parameters to consider (for other parameters, check helm/openwhisk/values.yaml and configurationChoices):

  • actionsInvokesPerminute: limits the maximum number of invocations per minute.
  • actionsInvokesPerminute: limits the maximum concurrent invocations.
  • containerPool.userMemory: total memory available per invoker instance. Invoker uses this memory to create containers for user-actions. The concurrency-limit (actions running in parallel) will depend upon the total memory configured for containerPool and memory allocated per action (default: 256mb per container).
  • triggersFiresPerminute: limits the maximum triggers invoked per minute.

Modifying the above mentioned parameters, one can easily increase the concurrency-limit (default: 8) to 100 or 200 without affecting the runtime performance (may vary based on the running functions). To further increase the concurrency-limit, check Large scale-up below.

Large Scale

In order to further increase the scale-up beyond Small Scale, one needs to modify the following additional configurations appropriately (on top of the above mentioned):

  • invoker:jvmHeapMB: jvmHeap memory available to each invoker instance. May or may not require increase based on running functions. For more information check troubleshooting below.
  • invoker:containerFactory:_:replicaCount: number of invoker instances that will be used to handle the incoming workload. By default, there is only one invoker instance which can become overwhelmed if workload goes beyond a certain threshold.
  • controller:replicaCount: number of controller instances that will be used to handle the incoming workload. Same as invoker instances.
  • invoker:options: Log processing at the invoker can become a bottleneck for the KubernetesContainerFactory. One might try disabling invoker log processing by setting it to -Dwhisk.spi.LogStoreProvider=org.apache.openwhisk.core.containerpool.logging.LogDriverLogStoreProvider. In general, one needs to offload log processing from the invoker to a node-level log store provider if one is trying to push a large load through the system.



On the client-side, the most frequently received error:

"error": "The server is currently unavailable (because it is overloaded or down for maintenance).

The above mentioned error occurs when controller is unable to find any healthy invoker instance to serve the incoming requests. To resolve this issue, one needs to debug the Deployment-side to figure-out the cause for unhealth invoker instances.


For debugging, one needs to identify the invoker and controller pods and check their logs for further details. Few known errors:

class io.fabric8.kubernetes.client.KubernetesClientTimeoutException - Timed out waiting for [0] milliseconds for [Pod] with name

The above error occurs when one has configured too large a containerPool to match the incoming workloads, without configuring the scale-up for the invoker instance(s) to keep up with the serving rate.

java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space

The above error occurs when the configured invoker:jvmHeapMB memory is insufficient for the faced workload.

error: only single invoker instance being used to handle all the workload

OpenWhisk treats blackbox (docker) actions differently when compared to regular actions. By default, OpenWhisk loadbalancer is configured to use only 10% (only 1 invoker-instance if total invoker-instances are less than 10) of invoker instances for blackbox actions. This behavior can be configured by modifying whisk.loadbalancer.blackbox-fraction in helm/openwhisk/values.yaml.