If a telemetry option is provided, ContainerPilot will expose a Prometheus HTTP client interface that can be used to scrape performance telemetry. The telemetry interface is advertised as a service to Consul. Each metric for the telemetry service configures a collectors for the Prometheus client library. A Prometheus server can then make HTTP requests to the telemetry endpoint.

Configuration details follow, but this blog post offers a usage example and narrative for it.

The top-level telemetry configuration defines the telemetry HTTP endpoint. This endpoint will be advertised to Consul (or other discovery service) just as a typical ContainerPilot service block is. The service will be called containerpilot and will be served on the path /metrics. The telemetry service will send periodic heartbeats to the discovery service to identify that it is still operating. There is no user-defined health check for the telemetry service endpoint, and you don't need to configure the poll/TTL; it will send a 15 second heartbeat every 5 seconds.

A minimal configuration for ContainerPilot including telemetry might look like this:

  consul: "consul:8500",
  telemetry: {
    port: 9090,
    interfaces: ["eth0"],
    tags: ["tag1"],
    metrics: [
        namespace: "my_namespace",
        subsystem: "my_subsystem",
        name: "my_events_count",
        help: "help text",
        type: "counter"
  jobs: [
      name: "sensor",
      exec: "/bin/",
      timeout: "5s",
      when: {
        interval: "5s"

The fields are as follows:

  • port is the port the telemetry service will advertise to the discovery service. (Default value is 9090.)
  • interfaces is an optional single or array of interface specifications. If given, the IP of the service will be obtained from the first interface specification that matches. (Default value is ["eth0:inet"])
  • tags is an optional array of tags. If the discovery service supports it (Consul does), the service will register itself with these tags.
  • metrics is an optional array of collector configurations (see below). If no sensors are provided, then the telemetry endpoint will still be exposed and will show only telemetry about ContainerPilot internals.

Collector configuration

The metrics field is a list of user-defined metrics that the telemetry service will use to configure Prometheus collectors.

  • namespace, subsystem, and name are the names that the Prometheus client library will use to construct the name for the telemetry. These three names are concatenated with underscores _ to become the final name that is scraped recorded by Prometheus. In the example above the metric recorded would be named my_namespace_my_subsystem_my_event_count. You can leave off the namespace and subsystem values and put everything into the name field if desired; the option to provide these other fields is simply for convenience of those who might be generating ContainerPilot configurations programmatically. Please see the Prometheus documents on naming for best practices on how to name your telemetry.
  • help is the help text that will be associated with the metric recorded by Prometheus. This is useful for debugging by giving a more verbose description.
  • type is the type of collector Prometheus will use (one of counter, gauge, histogram or summary). See below for details.

Sensor configuration

The collectors can record metrics sent via the HTTP control socket. If your application can't use this endpoint on its own, you can use a periodic job to record the metric value and call containerpilot -putmetric. An example of a good job script might be:

# check free memory
val=$(free | awk -F' +' '/Mem/{print $3}')
./containerpilot -putmetric "free_memory=$val"

Collector types

ContainerPilot supports all four of the metric types available in the Prometheus API. Briefly these are:


A cumulative metric that represents a single numerical value that only ever goes up. A typical use case for a counter is a count of the number of of certain events. The value returned by the sensor will be added to the counter for that metric.


A metric that represents a single numerical value that can arbitrarily go up and down. A typical use case for a gauge might be a measurement of the current memory usage. The value returned by the sensor script will be set as the new value for the gauge metric.


A count of observations in "buckets", along with the sum of all observed values. A typical use case might be request durations or response sizes. When the Prometheus server scrapes this telemetry endpoint, it will receive a list of buckets and their counts. For example:

namespace_subsystem_response_bucket{le="1"} 0
namespace_subsystem_response_bucket{le="2.5"} 0
namespace_subsystem_response_bucket{le="5"} 1
namespace_subsystem_response_bucket{le="10"} 2
namespace_subsystem_response_bucket{le="+Inf"} 2

This indicates that the collector has seen 2 events in total. One event had a value less than 5 (le="5"), whereas a second was less than 10.


A summary is similar to a histogram, but while it also provides a total count of observations and a sum of all observed values, it calculates quantiles over a sliding time window. For example:

namespace_subsystem_response_seconds_summary{quantile="0.5"} 0.3
namespace_subsystem_response_seconds_summary{quantile="0.9"} 0.5
namespace_subsystem_response_seconds_summary{quantile="0.99"} 2

This indicates that the 50th percentile response time is 0.3 seconds, the 90th percentile is 0.5 seconds, and the 99th percentile is 2 seconds.

Please see the Prometheus docs on histograms for best practices on when you should choose histograms vs summaries.