Modified: 22 Apr 2016 23:40 UTC
Stability: Unknown

When using Docker with a Triton data center (a.k.a. SDC) as your Docker Host, your Docker containers can be placed on any physical server in the data center. This is one of the basic benefits of Triton's Docker solution: with just the vanilla docker client you can get the benefit of spreading your containers across multiple servers, setting the groundwork for high availability (HA) services and avoiding single points of failure (SPOF).

This document explains how Triton places new containers on servers and what facilities are exposed for controlling placement.

Default placement

By default, Triton makes a reasonable attempt to spread all containers (and non-Docker containers and VMs) owned by a single account across separate physical servers.

Within a Docker container the physical server on which a container is running is exposed via the sdc:server_uuid metadata key:

$ docker run -ti --rm alpine /bin/sh
/ # hostname
/ # /native/usr/sbin/mdata-get sdc:server_uuid

By running another container we can see this default spread behavior (the server_uuid differs):

$ docker run -ti --rm alpine /bin/sh
/ # hostname
/ # /native/usr/sbin/mdata-get sdc:server_uuid

Outside the containers, the physical server on which a container is running is exposed via the compute_node field using the Triton CLI:

$ triton insts -o shortid,name,age,compute_node
cc72c36c  serene_bose      6m   44454c4c-5400-1034-8052-b5c04f383432
98d5a22a  goofy_engelbart  2m   44454c4c-4400-1054-8052-b5c04f383432

Note that there are many factors in placement decisions, including DC operator-controlled spread policies, so results may vary.

Swarm affinity

Docker Swarm is a system to allow you to talk to a pool of Docker hosts (a.k.a. nodes) as a single virtual Docker host. docker run against a Swarm master will choose a node on which to run your container. Sometimes it matters which node is selected -- my webhead should run near the redis it uses for caching, this database instance should not be on the same node as other database instances in the HA cluster. Swarm defines "filters" for node selection, and in particular "affinity filters" where node selection is described in terms of existing containers. For example:

docker run --name db1 -e 'affinity:container!=db0' -d mysql
#                     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
# Run a mysql instance that is NOT on the same node as container 'db0'.

For the same reasons, node selection can matter on Triton. Triton's Docker implements the same affinity filters as documented for Docker Swarm, with the difference that you don't need to setup a Swarm cluster.

Affinity filter syntax

An affinity filter is an argument to docker run or docker create using either (a) environment variables:

docker run -e 'affinity:<filter>' ...

or (b) labels. (Note: At the time of writing the label syntax was in Docker Swarm code, but not documented.)

docker run --label 'com.docker.swarm.affinities=["<filter>",...]' ...

A <filter> is one of the following. (Note: Swarm defines "image filters" which don't apply for Triton because any image in the datacenter is available for any node.)

<op> is one of:

Divergence: There is a limitation that a mix of hard and soft (~) filters is not supported. If both kinds are given, the soft affinities will be ignored.

<value> is an exact string, simple *-glob, or regular expression to match against container names or IDs, or against the given label name. (See also the Docker Swarm filter expression documentation).

Some examples:

# Run on the same node as silent_bob:
docker run -e 'affinity:container==silent_bob' ...

# Same, using the label syntax:
docker run --label 'com.docker.swarm.affinities=["container==silent_bob"]' ...

# Run on a different node as all containers labelled with 'role=database':
docker run -e 'affinity:role!=database' ...

# Run on a different node to all containers with names starting with "foo":
docker run -e 'affinity:container!=foo*' ...

# Same, using a regular expression:
docker run -e 'affinity:container!=/^foo/' ...

Note: At the time of writing the label syntax is in Docker Swarm code, but not documented.

Affinity in the Triton CLI

For users of both Docker and non-Docker containers (and VMs) on Triton, the triton CLI for creating and running containers supports a similar affinity syntax:

# Run on the same node as silent_bob:
triton create -a 'container==silent_bob' ...

# Run on a different node to 'db0':
triton create -a 'container!=db0' ...

Placement failure

The use of affinity rules can mean the placement is impossible. For example:

A current limitation is that the error returned with docker run for the above cases is not differentiated from the general error of the data center being out of resources:

$ docker --tls run --name db1 -e 'affinity:container!=db0' alpine hostname
docker: Error response from daemon: (DockerNoComputeResourcesError) No compute resources available. (cb792af0-08b4-11e6-9922-231469062e7b).
See 'docker run --help'.

This issue is being used to track this limitation.