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StatefulSet vs. ReplicaSets

StatefulSets vs ReplicaSets

In the last lesson you have scaled the PostgreSQL StatefulSet to 3 replicas so that it now consists of 3 Pods.

In this lesson you will conduct more experiments to become familiar with the particularities and similarities of StatefulSets compared to other resource types such as ReplicaSets and Deployments.

StatefulSets vs. ReplicaSets

The most obvious similarity between StatefulSets and ReplicaSets is their name as both contain the word "Set".

Just like a ReplicaSet a StatefulSet is more than just a collection of Pods. Similar to a ReplicaSet Controller is watching over the Pods of a ReplicaSet, a StatefulSet Controller is watching all Pods of a StatefulSet.

Let's see this in action!

Open a terminal window and observe the Pods of your StatefulSet continuously:

kubectl get pods -l app=postgresql-a -w

This will produce an output such as:

postgresql-sfs-0 1/1 Running 0 34m
postgresql-sfs-1 1/1 Running 0 24s
postgresql-sfs-2 1/1 Running 0 23s

And it will also block the terminal window. Place the windows so that you can keep an eye on it and open another terminal window. You should now see both terminal windows simultaneously.

In the new window disturb the StatefulSet by deleting one of its Pods:

kubectl delete pod postgresql-sfs-1

Watch what's happening:

postgresql-sfs-1   1/1     Terminating   0          3m44s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 Terminating 0 3m45s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 Terminating 0 3m52s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 Terminating 0 3m52s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 Pending 0 0s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 Pending 0 0s
postgresql-sfs-1 0/1 ContainerCreating 0 0s
postgresql-sfs-1 1/1 Running 0 1s

The deleted Pod has been recreated.

Check the StatefulSet:

kubectl get statefulset postgresql-sfs

All three Pods are back and Running. So what happened here?

The StatefulSet Controller has been told to nurse three (3) Pods and that's what it does. As a "higher ranked officer" it does not care why a Pod has been lost. All it does is to apply the desired state vs actual state-comparison, recognize that a Pod is missing and take a corrective action: creating the missing Pod.

Another takeaway from this example is how the Pod identity in a StatefulSet is respected during self-healing. The newly created Pod has the same name: postgresql-sfs-1 and the same Persistent Volume Claim data-postgresql-sfs-1 which results in the same Persistent Volume and hence the same persisted data! In other words: the node has been recovered as it was before.

StatefulSets vs. Deployments

In contrast to ReplicaSets but similar to Deployments, StatefulSets support update strategies such as RollingUpdate and OnDelete.

For this reason, StatefulSets are neither stateful ReplicaSets nor stateful Deployments. They are entities on their own sharing similarities with both.

Tidy Up

Now revert your changes by editing 30-stateful-set.yaml to the StatefulSet and set the number of replicas back to 1: replicas: 1.

Apply the changes by executing:

kubectl apply -f 30-stateful-set.yaml
  1. Kubernetes Documentation - Tutorials - StatefulSet Basics,