Define Custom Prometheus AlertsΒΆ

You can define new alerts in two ways using Robusta:

  1. Prometheus Alerts - Using PromQL

  2. Robusta Playbooks - Using customPlaybooks YAML

These methods are not mutually exclusive. Robusta playbooks can respond to Prometheus alerts, or they can generate alerts themselves by listening directly to the Kubernetes APIServer. To better understand the trade-offs, refer to Should I generate alerts with Robusta or with Prometheus?

In this tutorial, we use the first method to generate a custom Prometheus alert using PromQL. In the next tutorial, we define a custom Robusta playbook that enhances the alert and makes it better.


One of the following:

  • Robusta's embedded Prometheus Stack

  • An external Prometheus integrated with Robusta, including the Prometheus Operator.

Defining a Custom AlertΒΆ

Prometheus Alerts are defined on Kubernetes using the PrometheusRule CRD.


What is the PrometheusRule CRD?

CRDs (Custom Resources Definitions) extend Kubernetes API with new resource types. You can apply and edit these resources using kubectl just like Pods, Deployments, and other builtin resources.

The Prometheus Operator adds CRDs to Kubernetes so you can control Prometheus alerts with kubectl. Whenever you apply or edit a PrometheusRule CRD, the operator will update Prometheus's configuration automatically.

When Robusta's embedded Prometheus Stack is enabled, the Prometheus Operator is installed automatically.

kubectl apply -f test-rule.yaml

Testing the AlertΒΆ

Deploy a broken Pod that will deliberately trigger the Prometheus alert we defined:

kubectl apply -f <some example from our demo repo>

By default, Prometheus doesn't send alerts immediately. It waits X seconds to avoid sending flaky alerts that fire temporarily and then immediately stop.


Thresholds vs Events

Prometheus and Robusta work a little differently. Prometheus alerts based on thresholds and time periods, so it has built-in alerting delays to avoid false-positives. On the other hand, Robusta is event-driven and alerts based on discrete events. It notifies immediately without alerting delays and has rate-limiting features to avoid sending duplicate messages.

When a Robusta playbook uses the on_prometheus_alert trigger, there is a delay on the Prometheus end before alerts ever reach Robusta. Once the alert reaches Robusta, the playbook executes immediately.

We can wait for the alert to fire or we can speed things up and simulate the alert, as if it fired immediately:

Show alert simulation

Once the alert fires, a notification arrives in your configured sinks:

Enriching the AlertΒΆ

In the next tutorial, we enhance this Prometheus alert with Robusta. Keep reading to learn more: