Handle Kapacitor alerts during scheduled downtime

In many cases, infrastructure downtime is necessary to perform system maintenance. This type of downtime is typically scheduled beforehand, but can trigger unnecessary alerts if the affected hosts are monitored by Kapacitor. This guide walks through creating TICKscripts that gracefully handle scheduled downtime without triggering alerts.


Avoid unnecessary alerts during scheduled downtime by using the sideload node to load information from files in the filesystem and set fields and tags on data points which can then be used in alert logic. The sideload node adds fields and tags to points based on hierarchical data from various file-based sources.

Kapacitor searches the specified files for a given field or tag key. If it finds the field or tag key in the loaded files, it uses the value in the files to set the field or tag on data points. If it doesn’t find the field or tag key, it sets them to the default value defined in the field or tag properties.

Relevant sideload properties

The following properties of sideload are relevant to gracefully handling scheduled downtime:


source specifies a directory in which source files live.


order specifies both files that are loaded and searched and the order in which they are loaded and searched. Filepaths are relative to the source directory. Files should be either JSON or YAML.


field defines a field key that Kapacitor should search for and the default value it should use if it doesn’t find a matching field key in the loaded files.


tag defines a tag key that Kapacitor should search for and the default value it should use if it doesn’t find a matching tag key in the loaded files.


With the sideload function, you can create what is essentially a white- or black-list of hosts to ignore during scheduled downtime. For this example, assume that maintenance will happen on both individual hosts and hostgroups, both of which are included as tags on each point in the data set.

In most cases, this can be done simply by host, but to illustrate how the order property works, we’ll use both host and hostgroup.

Sideload source files

On the host on which Kapacitor is running, create a source directory that will house the JSON or YAML files. For example, /usr/kapacitor/scheduled-maintenance (It can be whatever you want as long as the kapacitord process can access it).

Inside this directory, create a file for each host or host group that will be offline during the scheduled downtime. For the sake of organization, create hosts and hostgroups directories and store the YAML or JSON files in each. The names of each file should match a value of a host or hostgroup tag for hosts that will be taken offline.

For this example, assume the host1, host2, host3 hosts and the cluster7 and cluster8 hostgroups will be taken offline. Create a file for each of these hosts and host groups in their respective directories:

└── kapacitor/
    └── scheduled-maintenance/
        ├── hosts/
        │   ├── host1.yml
        │   ├── host2.yml
        │   └── host3.yml
        └── hostgroups/
            ├── cluster7.yml
            └── cluster8.yml

You only need to create files for hosts or hostgroups that will be offline.

The contents of the file should contain one or more key-value pairs. The key is the field or tag key that will be set on each matching point. The value is the field or tag value that will be set on matching points.

For this example, set the maintenance field to true. Each of the source files will look like the following:

maintenance: true


Create a TICKscript that uses the sideload node to load in the maintenance state where ever it is needed.

Define the sideload source

The source should use the file:// URL protocol to reference the absolute path of the directory containing the files that should be loaded.


Define the sideload order

The order property has access to template data which should be used to populate the filepaths for loaded files (relative to the source). This allows Kapacitor to dynamically search for files based on the tag name used in the template.

In this case, use the host and hostgroup tags. Kapacitor will iterate through the different values for each tag and search for matching files in the source directory.

  .order('hosts/{{.host}}.yml' , 'hostgroups/{{.hostgroup}}.yml')

The order of file path templates in the order property define the precedence in which file paths are checked. Those listed first, from left to right, are checked first.

Define the sideload field

The field property requires two arguments:

  // ...
  .field('<key>', <default-value>)

The key that Kapacitor looks for in the source files and the field for which it defines a value on each data point.


The default value used if no matching file and key are found in the source files.

In this example, use the maintenance field and set the default value to FALSE. This assumes hosts are not undergoing maintenance by default.

  .order('hosts/{{.host}}.yml' , 'hostgroups/{{.hostgroup}}.yml')
  .field('maintenance', FALSE)

You can use the tag property instead of field if you prefer to set a tag on each data point rather than a field.

Update alert logic

The sideload node will now set the maintenance field on every data point processed by the TICKscript. For those that have host or hostgroup tags matching the filenames of the source files, the maintenance field will be set to the value defined in the source file.

Update the alert logic in your TICKscript to ensure maintenance is not true before sending an alert:

  // ...
    .crit(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 30)
    .warn(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 50)
    .info(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 70)

Full TICKscript example

  // Use sideload to maintain the host maintenance state.
  // By default we assume a host is not undergoing maintenance.
    .order('hosts/{{.host}}.yml' , 'hostgroups/{{.hostgroup}}.yml')
    .field('maintenance', FALSE)
    // Add the `!"maintenance"` condition to the alert.
    .crit(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 30)
    .warn(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 50)        
    .info(lambda: !"maintenance" AND "usage_idle" < 70)

Prepare for scheduled downtime

Define a new Kapacitor task using your updated TICKscript.

As your scheduled downtime begins, update the maintenance value in the appropriate host and host group source files and reload sideload to avoid alerts being triggered for those specific hosts and host groups.

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