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As part of our ongoing series on running MySQL on Kubernetes, we’ve also published a number of articles about running MySQL on Kubernetes for specific platforms and for specific use cases.  If you are looking for a specific Kubernetes platform, check out these related articles.

Running HA MySQL on Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS)

Running HA MySQL on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)

Running HA MySQL on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

Running HA MySQL on Red Hat OpenShift

How to Backup and Restore MySQL on Red Hat OpenShift

Running HA MySQL on IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS)

Running HA MySQL on Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE)

And now, onto the post…


This MySQL Kubernetes guide will show you how to run MySQL in containers on Kubernetes using statefulsets and kops.


Our engineers (especially Harsh Desai) have been working closely with Kubernetes engineers to improve the installation path of Portworx onto a Kubernetes cluster.

We are pleased to announce that as of version 1.6.5, Kubernetes supports running Portworx in “masterless” mode which has several advantages for various Kubernetes-based platforms.

This post will focus on running Portworx with Kubernetes on AWS using kops to bootstrap the cluster. In this post we will focus on running a MySQL server and dealing with a failover scenario.

Use Case

Before we dive in, let’s ask ourselves a question:

Why do I need Portworx if Kubernetes already has Persistent Claims for EBS Volumes?

The answer is that EBS volumes are not nimble resources and can take minutes to move around the cluster because they can get stuck in an attaching state. EBS stuck attaching is quite a common problem, the result of which is increased time to recovery during failures and even inability to fail over pods at all with manual intervention.

Portworx takes a different approach: It will take your underlying block storage and turn it into a “pool,” with virtual slices of that pool offered as storage to a container. The Portworx volume is replicated at block layer and so in the event of a node failure, the volume with all its data is already present on another node and so failover happens much faster.

Another advantage of using Portworx with kops specifically is that kops uses Auto Scaling Groups to manage the underlying EC2 nodes. As demonstrated in another previous blog post about how to use AWS auto scaling groups (ASG) with Docker, Portworx brings a valuable operational advantage by separating storage from compute and re-using EBS volumes from a previous scale-up operation.

Install Cluster

This guide follows the official AWS installation guide for kops.

Explore Cluster

Once we have our Kubernetes cluster, we should be able to see ours nodes using `kubectl`:

$ kubectl get no
NAME                                         STATUS    AGE       VERSION
ip-172-20-33-86.us-west-2.compute.internal   Ready     6m        v1.6.6
ip-172-20-41-10.us-west-2.compute.internal   Ready     6m        v1.6.6
ip-172-20-57-62.us-west-2.compute.internal   Ready     8m        v1.6.6

From this point – we have a vanilla Kubernetes cluster that will use EBS drives for stateful container volumes.

The following steps will install Portworx onto our Kubernetes cluster.

Install etcd

We will use the etcd operator to install an etcd cluster.

First – we deploy the actual etcd operator itself:

$ kubectl create -f https://coreos.com/operators/etcd/latest/deployment.yaml

Then we use the operator to create ourselves an etcd cluster::

$ kubectl create -f https://coreos.com/operators/etcd/latest/example-etcd-cluster.yaml

Finally, we create a proxy service so etcd can be accessed by portworx:

$ kubectl create -f manifests/etcd/01-etcd-service-proxy.yaml

Template Volume

Then, we create a template storage volume. Portworx will use the meta-data (size, iops etc) as a template and create a new volume for each node in the cluster.

$ export VOLUMEID=$(aws ec2 create-volume \
  --size 100 \
  --volume-type gp2 \
  --region us-west-2 \
  --availability-zone us-west-2a \
  --output text \
  --query 'VolumeId')

Portworx Deamonset

Portworx runs inside a container on each node (it deploys as a DaemonSet).

First – ensure that your aws access keys are set:

$ cat ~/.aws/credentials
$ export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=$(cat ~/.aws/credentials | grep aws_access_key_id | awk '{print $3}')
$ export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=$(cat ~/.aws/credentials | grep aws_secret_access_key | awk '{print $3}')

Portworx will need aws access credentials so it can manage the underlying EBS storage pool, we are passing the keys for simplicity. You can read more about this in the AWS ASG blog post mentioned earlier as kops uses these under the cover to manage Kubernetes nodes.

Finally – we create a URL that will generate our DeamonSet configuration using the values above:

$ export K8S_CONFIG_URL="http://install.portworx.com/?cluster=k8scluster&kvdb=etcd://${VOLUMEID}&env=AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=${AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID},AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=${AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY}&zeroStorage=true"

You can see what the YAML looks like:

$ curl ${K8S_CONFIG_URL}

Then we deploy the DaemonSet to the cluster:

$ curl ${K8S_CONFIG_URL} | kubectl apply -f -

We give Portworx some time to spin up and then we can check everything is working by using the `pxctl` command line tool:

$ ssh admin@api.${NAME} sudo /opt/pwx/bin/pxctl status
Status: PX is operational
Node ID: ip-172-20-53-183.us-west-2.compute.internal
        Local Storage Pool: 0 pool
        No storage pool
        Local Storage Devices: 0 device
        Device  Path    Media Type      Size            Last-Scan
        No storage device
        total           -       0 B
Cluster Summary
        Cluster ID: k8scluster
        IP              ID                                              Used    Capacity        Status   ip-172-20-53-183.us-west-2.compute.internal     0 B     0 B             Online (This node)   ip-172-20-59-181.us-west-2.compute.internal     266 MiB 20 GiB          Online   ip-172-20-49-178.us-west-2.compute.internal     266 MiB 20 GiB          Online
Global Storage Pool
        Total Used      :  532 MiB
        Total Capacity  :  40 GiB

Notice how Portworx has automatically provisioned new EBS drives for our storage pool and has based their properties on our template volume.

Failover Example

Now we have a fully operational Kubernetes cluster with Portworx, we can see how it copes with a node failure when using a replicated volume.

Using this guide we create a MySQL stateful set with a Persistent Volume Claim

Storage Class

To allow control over the properties of our volumes – we will first create a Storage Class:

kind: StorageClass
apiVersion: storage.k8s.io/v1beta1
  name: portworx-repl-2
provisioner: kubernetes.io/portworx-volume
  repl: "2"

This storage class tells Portworx to keep two copies of the volume at all times.

To create this Storage Class:

$ kubectl create -f manifests/ebs-demo/storageclass


We then create a deployment that uses a `volumeClaimTemplate` to ask Kubernetes for a volume with 20Gb of storage.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
  name: test-ebs
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  name: mysql
  namespace: test-ebs
    app: mysql
  - port: 3306
    name: mysql
  clusterIP: None
    app: mysql
apiVersion: apps/v1beta1
kind: StatefulSet
  name: mysql
  namespace: test-ebs
  serviceName: "mysql"
  replicas: 1
        app: mysql
      terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 10
      - name: mysql
        image: mysql:5.6
          # Use secret in real usage
        - name: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD
          value: password
        - containerPort: 3306
          name: mysql
        - name: mysql-vol
          mountPath: /var/lib/mysql
  - metadata:
    name: mysql-vol
      volume.beta.kubernetes.io/storage-class: portworx-repl-2
      accessModes: [ "ReadWriteOnce" ]
          storage: 20Gi

The key line of this manifest is the one where we specify the storage class for our volume claim:

- metadata:
  name: mysql-vol
    volume.beta.kubernetes.io/storage-class: portworx-repl-2

We ask Kubernetes what storageclasses it knows about:

$ kubectl get storageclasses
NAME                  TYPE
default               kubernetes.io/aws-ebs
etcd-backup-gce-pd    kubernetes.io/gce-pd
gp2 (default)         kubernetes.io/aws-ebs
portworx-repl-2       kubernetes.io/portworx-volume

We can see that `portworx-repl-2` is of type `kubernetes.io/portworx-volume` which means this Persistent Volume Claim will auto-provision a Portworx volume for us and attach it to the pod.

Lets run this manifest:

$ kubectl create -f manifests/ebs-demo/deployment

Create Some Data

At this point we have a running MySQL server – let’s use this guide to simulate failover of a node.

First, we should create some data on our MySQL server:

$ export MYSQLPOD=$(kubectl get pods -n test-ebs -l app=mysql --no-headers | awk '{print $1}')
$ kubectl logs -n test-ebs $MYSQLPOD
$ kubectl exec -n test-ebs -ti $MYSQLPOD -- mysql --user=root --password=password
mysql> create database TEST_1234;
mysql> exit

At this point there is a database called `TEST_1234` created on our MySQL server.

Cordon the Node

Then we cordon the node that is currently running our MySQL server and then remove the MySQL pod itself. Because we are running a stateful set, this will trigger Kubernetes to re-schedule a new Pod to another node (simulating the original node failing).

First let’s discover the node that is running our MySQL server:

$ export MYSQL_NODE=$(kubectl describe -n test-ebs pod -l app=mysql | grep Node: | awk -F'[ \t//]+' '{print $2}')
$ echo $MYSQL_NODE

Then we `cordon` that node:

$ kubectl cordon $MYSQL_NODE

Finally we delete the MySQL pod:

$ kubectl delete pod -n test-ebs -l app=mysql
$ kubectl describe pods -n test-ebs -l app=mysql

Check the Data Moved

Kubernetes has kicked in and re-scheduled the MySQL Pod to another node. The volume claim that pods refers to has a replication setting of 2 meaning the original data was being synchronously replicated and so the new MySQL Pod starts off where it left off before the failure.

Because Portworx is not attaching block devices to different nodes (which is what vanilla Kubernetes on AWS would do) – the total time to failover is much less. You can read more about that in this blog post

We can check that our data is intact by connecting to the new MySQL pod:

$ export MYSQLPOD=$(kubectl get pods -n test-ebs -l app=mysql --no-headers | awk '{print $1}')
$ kubectl exec -n test-ebs -ti $MYSQLPOD -- mysql --user=root --password=password
mysql> show databases;
| Database            |
| information_schema  |
| TEST_1234           |
| #mysql50#lost+found |
| mysql               |
| performance_schema  |
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Uncordon the Node

Now bring the node back online:

$ kubectl uncordon $MYSQL_NODE


This hands on guide has shown you how to install and operate Portworx on an AWS Kubernetes cluster. As demonstrated, there are various advantages to using Portworx in this situation.

Another advantage of using Portworx alongside kops specifically is the integration with Auto Scaling Groups (demonstrated in this post). This means Portworx will manage our underlying EBS pool and be able to re-use previous EBS volumes after a scale up/down/up operation.

Want to learn more about Kubernetes persistent storage?  Be sure to checkout our documentation for running Portworx on Kubernetes!


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Portworx is the leader in cloud native storage for containers.

Kai Davenport

Kai Davenport

Kai has worked on internet-based systems since 1998 and currently spends his time using Kubernetes, Docker and other container tools and programming in Node.js and Go.

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