As a developer, you can use Custom Metrics Autoscaler Operator for Red Hat OpenShift to specify how OpenShift Container Platform should automatically increase or decrease the number of pods for a deployment, stateful set, custom resource, or job based on custom metrics that are not based only on CPU or memory.

The Custom Metrics Autoscaler Operator is an optional operator, based on the Kubernetes Event Driven Autoscaler (KEDA), that allows workloads to be scaled using additional metrics sources other than pod metrics.

The custom metrics autoscaler currently supports only the Prometheus, CPU, memory, and Apache Kafka metrics.

The Custom Metrics Autoscaler Operator scales your pods up and down based on custom, external metrics from specific applications. Your other applications continue to use other scaling methods. You configure triggers, also known as scalers, which are the source of events and metrics that the custom metrics autoscaler uses to determine how to scale. The custom metrics autoscaler uses a metrics API to convert the external metrics to a form that OpenShift Container Platform can use. The custom metrics autoscaler creates a horizontal pod autoscaler (HPA) that performs the actual scaling.

To use the custom metrics autoscaler, you create a ScaledObject or ScaledJob object, which is a custom resource (CR) that defines the scaling metadata. You specify the deployment or job to scale, the source of the metrics to scale on (trigger), and other parameters such as the minimum and maximum replica counts allowed.

You can create only one scaled object or scaled job for each workload that you want to scale. Also, you cannot use a scaled object or scaled job and the horizontal pod autoscaler (HPA) on the same workload.

The custom metrics autoscaler, unlike the HPA, can scale to zero. If you set the minReplicaCount value in the custom metrics autoscaler CR to 0, the custom metrics autoscaler scales the workload down from 1 to 0 replicas to or up from 0 replicas to 1. This is known as the activation phase. After scaling up to 1 replica, the HPA takes control of the scaling. This is known as the scaling phase.

Some triggers allow you to change the number of replicas that are scaled by the cluster metrics autoscaler. In all cases, the parameter to configure the activation phase always uses the same phrase, prefixed with activation. For example, if the threshold parameter configures scaling, activationThreshold would configure activation. Configuring the activation and scaling phases allows you more flexibility with your scaling policies. For example, you can configure a higher activation phase to prevent scaling up or down if the metric is particularly low.

The activation value has more priority than the scaling value in case of different decisions for each. For example, if the threshold is set to 10, and the activationThreshold is 50, if the metric reports 40, the scaler is not active and the pods are scaled to zero even if the HPA requires 4 instances.

You can verify that the autoscaling has taken place by reviewing the number of pods in your custom resource or by reviewing the Custom Metrics Autoscaler Operator logs for messages similar to the following:

Successfully set ScaleTarget replica count
Successfully updated ScaleTarget

You can temporarily pause the autoscaling of a workload object, if needed. For example, you could pause autoscaling before performing cluster maintenance.