Per Process Healthcheck endpoints

In many modern deployment frameworks, there is an expectation that an application can expose a health-check endpoint so that the binary status can be monitored. Nova currently does not provide a native way to inspect the health of its binaries which doesn’t help cloud monitoring and maintenance. While limited support exists for health checks via oslo middleware for our WSGI based API binaries, this blueprint seeks to expose a local HTTP health-check endpoint to address this feature gap consistently for all nova components.

Problem description

To monitor the health of a nova service today requires experience to develop and implement a series of external heuristics to infer the state of the service binaries.

This can be as simple as checking the service status for those with heartbeats or can comprise monitoring log output via a watchdog and restarting the service if no output is detected after a protracted period. Processing the logs for known error messages and executing a remediation script or other methods that are easy to do incorrectly are also common.

This is also quite unfriendly to new nova users who have not gained enough experience with operating nova to know what warning signs they should look for such as inability to connect to the message bus. Nova developers however do know what some of the important health indicators are and can expose those as a local health-check endpoint that operators can use instead.

The existing oslo middleware does not address this problem statement because:

  1. it can only be used by the API and metadata binaries

  2. the middleware does not tell you the service is alive if its hosted by a WSGI server like apache since the middleware is executed independently from the WSGI application. i.e. the middleware can pass while the nova-api can’t connect to the db and is otherwise broken.

  3. the oslo middleware in detailed mode leaks info about the host python kernel, python version and hostname which can be used to determine in the host is vulnerable to CVEs which means it should never be exposed to the Internet. e.g.

platform: 'Linux-5.15.2-xanmod1-tt-x86_64-with-glibc2.2.5',
python_version: '3.8.12 (default, Aug 30 2021, 16:42:10) \n[GCC 10.3.0]'

Use Cases

As an operator, I want a simple REST endpoint I can consume to know if a nova process is healthy.

As an operator I want this health check to not impact the performance of the service so it can be queried frequently at short intervals.

As a deployment tool implementer, I want the health check to be local with no dependencies on other hosts or services to function so I can integrate it with service managers such as systemd or container runtime like docker

As a packager, I would like using the health check endpoint to not require special clients or packages to consume them. cURL, socat, or netcat should be all that is required to connect to the health check and retrieve the service status.

As an operator I would like to be able to use health-check of the nova API and metadata services to manage the membership of endpoints in my load-balancer or reverse proxy automatically.

Proposed change


TTL: The time interval for which a health check item is valid.

pass: all health indicators are passing and there TTLs have not expired.

warn: any health indicator has an expired TTL or where there is a partial transient failure.

fail: any health indicator is reporting an error or all TTLs are expired.

warn vs fail

In general if any of the health check indicators are failing then the service should be reported as fail however if the specific error condition is recoverable or only a partial failure the warn state can and should be used.

An example of this is a service that has lost a connection to the message bus, when the connection is lost it should go to the warn state, if the first attempt to reconnect fails it should go to the fail status. Transient failure should be considered warning but persistent errors should be escalated to failures.

In many cases external management systems will treat warn and fail as equivalent and raise an alarm or restart the service. While this spec does not specify how you should recover from a degraded state it is important to include a human readable description of why the warn or fail state was entered.

Services in the warn state are still considered healthy in most case but they may be about to fail soon or be partially degraded.

code changes

A new top-level nova health check module will be created to encapsulate the common code and data structure required to implement this feature.

A new health check manager class will be introduced which will maintain the health-check state and all functions related to retrieving, updating and summarizing that state.

The health check manager will be responsible for creating the health check endpoint when it is enabled in the nova.conf and exposing the health check over HTTP.

The initial implementation will support HTTP over TCP with optional support for UNIX domain sockets as a more secure alternative to be added later. The HTTP endpoint in both cases will be unauthenticated and the response will be in JSON format.

A new HealthcheckStausItem data class will be introduced to store and individual health check data-point. The HealtcheckSTatusItem will contain the name of the health check, its status, the time it was recorded, and an optional output string that should be populated if the status is warn or fail.

A new decorator will be introduced that will automatically retrieve the reference to the healthcheck manager from the nova context object and update the result based on if the function decorated raises an exception or not. The exception list and healthcheck item name will be specifiable.

The decorator will accept the name of the health check as a positional argument and include the exception message as the output of the health check on failure. Note that the decorator will only support the pass or fail status for simplicity, where warn is appropriate a manual check should be written. if multiple functions act as indicator of the same capability the same name should be used.


@healthcheck('database', [SQLAlchemyError])
def my_db_func(self):

@healthcheck('database', [SQLAlchemyError])
def my_other_db_func(self):

By default all exceptions will be caught and re-raised by the decorator.

The new REST health check endpoint exposed by this spec will initially only support one url path /health. The /health endpoint will include a Cache-Control: max-age=<ttl> header as part of its response which can optionally be consumed by the client.

The endpoint may also implement a simple incrementing etag at a later date once the initial implementation is complete if required. Initially adding an etag is not provided as the response is expected to be small and cheap to query so etags do not actually provide much benefit form a performance perspective.

If implemented the etag will be incremented whenever the service state changes and will reset to 0 when the service is restarted.

Additional url paths may be supported in the future for example to retrieve the running configuration or trigger the generation of Guru Meditation Reports or enable debug logging, however any endpoint beyond /health is out of scope of this spec. / is not used for health check response to facilitate additional paths in the future.

example output

GET /health HTTP/1.1
Accept: application/health+json

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/health+json
Cache-Control: max-age=3600
Connection: close

    "status": "pass",
    "version": "1.0",
    "serviceId": "e3c22423-cd7a-47dc-b6e9-e18d1a8b3bdf",
    "description": "nova-API",
    "notes": {"host": "", "hostname": ""}
    "checks": {
        "message_bus": {"status": "pass", "time": "2021-12-17T16:02:55+00:00"},
        "API_db": {"status": "pass", "time": "2021-12-17T16:02:55+00:00"}

GET /health HTTP/1.1
Accept: application/health+json

HTTP/1.1 503 Sevice Unavailable
Content-Type: application/health+json
Cache-Control: no-cache
Connection: close

    "status": "fail",
    "version": "1.0",
    "serviceId": "0a47dceb-11b1-4d94-8b9c-927d998be320",
    "description": "nova-compute",
    "notes": {"host": "", "hostname": ""}
        "message_bus":{"status": "pass", "time": "2021-12-17T16:02:55+00:00"},
             "status": "fail", "time": "2021-12-17T16:05:55+00:00",
             "output": "Libvirt Error: ..."


Instead of maintaining the state of the process in a data structure and returning the cached state we could implement the health check as a series of active probes such as checking the DB schema version to ensure we can access it or making a ping RPC call to the cell conductor or our own services RPC endpoint.

While this approach has some advantages it will have a negative performance impact if the health-check is queried frequently or in a large deployment where infrequent queries may still degrade the DB and message bus performance due to the scale of the deployment.

This spec initially suggested using OK, Degraded and Faulty as the values for the status field. these were updated to pass, warn and fail to align with the draft IETF RFC for health check response format for http APIs [1].

Data model impact

The nova context object will be extended to store a reference to the health check manager.

REST API impact


While this change will expose a new REST API endpoint it will not be part of the existing nova API.

In the nova API the /health check route will not initially be used to allow those that already enable the oslo middleware to continue to do so. In a future release nova reserves the right to add a /health check endpoint that may or may not correspond to the response format defined in oslo. A translation between the oslo response format and the health check module may be provided in the future but it is out of the scope of this spec.

Security impact

The new health check endpoint will be disabled by default. When enabled it will not provide any authentication or explicit access control. The documentation will detail that when enabled the TCP endpoint should be bound to localhost and that file system permission should be used to secure the UNIX socket.

The TCP configuration option will not prevent you from binding it to a routable IP if the operator chooses to do so. The intent is that the data contained in the endpoint will be non-privileged however it may contain Hostnames/FQDNs or other infrastructure information such as service UUIDs so it should not be accessible from the Internet.

Notifications impact


While the health checks will use the ability to send notification as an input to determine the health of the system, this spec will not introduce any new notifications as such it will not impact the Notification subsystem in nova. New notifications are not added as this would incur a performance overhead.

Other end user impact


At present, it is not planned to extend the nova client or the unified client to query the new endpoint. CURL, SOCAT, or any other UNIX socket or TCP HTTP client can be used to invoke the endpoint.

Performance Impact


We expect there to be little or no performance impact as we will be taking a minimally invasive approach to add health indicators to key functions which will be cached in memory. While this will slightly increase memory usage there is no expected impact on system performance.

Other deployer impact

A new config section healthcheck will be added in the nova.conf

A uri config option will be introduced to enable the health check functionality. The config option will be a string opt that supports a comma-separated list of URIs with the following format


e.g. [healthcheck] uri=tcp://localhost:424242

[healthcheck] uri=unix:///run/nova/nova-compute.sock

[healthcheck] uri=tcp://localhost:424242,unix:///run/nova/nova-compute.sock

The URI should be limited to the following charterers [a-zA-Z0-9_-] , is reserved as a separation charterer, . may only be used in ipv4 addresses : is reserved for port separation unless the address is an ipv6 address. ipv6 addresses must be enclosed in [ and ]. / may be used with the UNIX protocol however relative paths are not supported. These constraints and the parsing of the URI will be enforced and provided by the rfc3986 lib

A ttl intOpt will be added with a default value of 300 seconds. If set to 0 the time to live of a health check items will be infinite. If the TTL expires the state will be considered unknown and the healthcheck item will be discarded.

A cache_contol intOpt will be provide to set the max-age value in the cache_contol header. By default it will have the same max-age as the ttl config option. setting this to 0 will disable the reporting of the header. setting this to -1 will report Cache-Control: no-cache any other positive integer value will be used as the max-age.

Developer impact

Developers should be aware of the new decorator and consider if it should be added to more functions if that function is an indicator of the system’s health. Failures due to interactions with external system such as neutron port binding external events should be handled with caution. While failure to receive a port binding event will likely result in the failure to boot a vm it should not be used as a health indicator for the nova-compute agent. This is because such a failure may be due to a failure in neutron not nova. As such other operations such as vm snapshot may be unaffected and the nova compute service may be otherwise healthy. Any failure to connect to a non OpenStack service such as the message bus hypervisor or database however should be treated as a warn or fail health indicator if it prevents the nova binary from functioning correctly.

Upgrade impact




Primary assignee:


Other contributors:


Feature Liaison

Feature liaison:


Work Items

  • Add new module

  • Introduce decorator

  • Extend context object to store a reference to health check manager.

  • Add config options

  • Expose TCP endpoint

  • Expose UNIX socket endpoint support

  • Add docs




This can be tested entirely with unit and functional tests however, devstack will be extended to expose the endpoint and use it to determine if the nova services have started.

Documentation Impact

The config options will be documented in the config reference and a release note will be added for the feature.

A new health check section will be added to the admin docs describing the current response format and how to enable the feature and its intended usage. This document should be evolved whenever the format changes or new functionality is added beyond the scope of this spec.




Release Name