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Revision as of 12:49, 27 May 2021 by imported>Filippo Giunchedi (→‎Grafana alerts: Add template variables to notifications)
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What is it?

Alertmanager is the service (and software) in charge of collecting, de-duplicating and sending notifications for alerts across WMF infrastructure. It is part of the Prometheus ecosystem and therefore Prometheus itself has native support to act as Alertmanager client. The alerts dashboard, implemented by Karma, can be reached at As of Jan 2021 the dashboard is available for SSO users only, however a read-only version is possible as well.

Alertmanager is being progressively rolled out as the central place where all alerts are sent, the implementation is done in phases according to the alerting infrastructure roadmap. As of Jan 2021 LibreNMS has been fully migrated, with more services to come.

File:Alertmanager deployment jan2021.png
Alertmanager production deployment in Jan 2021

User guide


This section guides you through onboarding on AlertManager. The first step is understanding what you'd like to happen to alerts that come in (alerts are notifications in AM parlance). In other words, alerts are going to be routed according to their team and severity labels. Consider the following routing examples for alerts with a fictional team=a-team label:

  • Alerts with label severity=critical will notify #a-team on IRC, and email a-team@
  • Alerts with label severity=warning will notify #a-team on IRC
  • Alerts with label severity=task will create tasks in the #a-team Phabricator project

The resulting routing configuration will match first team= and then route according to severity:

    # A-team routing
    - match:
        team: a
        - match:
            severity: critical
          receiver: a-ircmail
        - match:
            severity: warning
          receiver: a-irc
        - match:
            severity: task
          receiver: a-task

Each receiver instructs Alertmanager on what to do with the alert, for the example above we would have:

    - name: 'a-ircmail'
        - url: 'http://.../a-team'
        - to: 'a-team@...'
    - name: 'a-irc'
        - url: 'http://.../a-team'
    - name: 'a-task'
        - url: 'http://.../alerts?phid=<phabricator_project_id>'

The routing tree can be explored and tested using the online routing tree editor. The routing configuration is managed by Puppet and changes are relatively infrequent: on/off boarding teams, changing emails, etc.

Create alerts

With alert routing is set up, you can start creating alerts for Alertmanager to handle. Alerts are defined as Prometheus' alerting rules: the alert's metric expression is evaluated periodically and all metrics matching the expression are turned into alerts. Consider the following example alert on etcd request latencies:

    - name: etcd
    - alert: HighRequestLatency
      expr: instance_operation:etcd_request_latencies_summary:avg5m > 50000
      for: 5m
        severity: critical
        team: sre
        summary: "etcd request {{ $labels.operation }} high latency"
        description: "etcd is experiencing high average five minutes latency for {{ $labels.operation }}: {{ $value }}ms"
        dashboard: https://...
        runbook: https://...

The example defines an alert named HighRequestLatency based on instance_operation:etcd_request_latencies_summary:avg5m metric. When the expression yields results for more than five minutes, then an alert will be fired for each metric returned by the expression. Each alert will have a list of labels attached, in addition to the result's metric labels, and used for routing the alert. The alert's annotations are used to provide guidance to humans handling the alert, by convention using the following:

Short description of the problem, used where brevity is needed (e.g. IRC)
A more extensive description of the problem, including more details
A link to the dashboard for the service/problem/etc
A link to the service's runbook to follow, ideally linking to the specific alert

Annotations and labels can be templated as showcased above; this feature is quite useful to make full use of Prometheus' multi-dimensional data model. The Prometheus template examples and template reference are good documentation to get started.

It is worth noting at this point one key difference between Icinga's alert model and Prometheus': Icinga knows about all possible alerts that might fire, whereas Prometheus evaluates an expression. The evaluation might result in one or more alerts, depending on the expression's results; there's no explicit list of all possible labels combinations for all alerts.

Grafana alerts

It is possible to send Grafana notifications to Alertmanager and get notified accordingly. To configure a new alert follow the instructions below:

  1. Edit the panel and select the "Alert" tab (dashboards with template variables are not supported in alerts as per upstream issue) then "create alert".
  2. Fill in the rule name, this is the alert's name showing up at alerts dashboard: alerts with the same name and different labels will be grouped together. An useful convention for alerts names is to be symptom-oriented and CamelCased without spaces, see also the examples above.
  3. The "evaluate every" field must be set to "1m" to get Alertmanager "alert liveness" logic to work, while the "for" field indicates for how long a threshold must be breached before the alert fires.
  4. Select the conditions for the alert to fire, see also Grafana's create alert documentation
  5. In the notifications section, add "AlertManager". The "message" text area corresponds to the alert's summary label and is used as a short but indicative text about the alert (e.g. will be displayed on IRC alongside the alert's name). In this field you can use templated variables from the alert's expression as per Grafana documentation.
  6. Add the alert's tags: these must contain at least team and severity for proper routing by Alertmanager (see also section above for a detailed description). The dashboard's panel will be linked automatically as the alert's "source" and is available both e.g. in email notifications and on the alerts dashboard.

Silences & acknowledgements

In Alertmanager a silence is used to mute notifications for all alerts matching the silence's labels. Unlike Icinga, silences exist independent of the alerts they are matching: you can create silence for alerts that have yet to fire (this is useful for example when turning up hosts and/or services not yet in production).

To create a new silence select the crossed bell on top right of to bring up the silence creation form. Then add the matching label names and their values, the silence's duration (hint: you can you the mouse wheel to change the duration's hour/day), a comment and then hit preview. If there are firing alerts they will be displayed in the preview, finally hit submit. At the next interface refresh the alert will be gone from the list of active alerts.

The silence form is available also pre-filled via each alert group's three vertical dots, and the alert's duration dropdown as illustrated below. When using the pre-filled silence form make sure to check the labels and add/remove labels as intended.

File:Alertmanager alert silence dropdown.png
Alertmanager alert silence dropdown
File:Alertmanager group silence dropdown.png
Alertmanager group silence dropdown

Within Alertmanager there is no concept of acknowledgement per-se, however any alert with comment starting with ACK! will be considered and acknowledgement. Such alerts will be periodically checked and their expiration extended until there are no matching alerts firing anymore. The acknowledgement functionality is also available from the UI via the "tick mark" next to each alert group, clicking the button will acknowledge the whole alert group. For more information see

Software stack

When talking about the Alertmanager stack as a whole it is useful to list its components as deployed at Wikimedia Foundation, namely the following software is:


As of Jan 2021, Alertmanager supports the following notification methods:

  • email - sent by Alertmanager itself
  • IRC - via the jinxer-wm bot on
  • phabricator - through @phaultfinder user
  • pages - sent via Splunk Oncall (formerly known as VictorOps)

Notification preferences are set per-team and are based on the alert' severity (respectively the team and severity labels attached to the alert)