Dynamic log routing based on Kubernetes labels using Fluent Bit

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Fluent Bit’s Wasm plugin lets you create powerful custom processing rules. Learn how it can be used to route logs to different destinations based on Kubernetes labels.

Sharad Regoti, with short dark hair and a beard, smiles at the camera while wearing a blue t-shirt.
Sharad Regoti | Guest Author

Sharad Regoti is a CKA & CKS certified software engineer based in Mumbai.

13 MINS READ

Fluent Bit + Wasm = Control

Fluent Bit is a widely-used open source project that enables you to collect logs, metrics, and traces from various sources, filter and transform them, and then forward them to multiple destinations. With over ten billion Docker pulls, Fluent Bit has established itself as a preferred choice for log processing, collecting, and shipping.

Fluent Bit’s pluggable architecture allows users to tailor Fluent Bit according to their specific logging requirements, whether it’s collecting logs from different sources, transforming log data, or shipping them to diverse destinations.

One of Fluent Bit’s newer additions is the Wasm plugin, which allows users to create their own custom filter using WebAssembly (Wasm) to process logs before routing them to their desired location. Wasm is a low-level, binary instruction format designed to be a portable target for the compilation of high-level languages like C, C++, Golang, and others, enabling deployment on the web and other environments. Its portability, language flexibility, and near-native execution speed make it a popular choice for developers.

In this post we’ll cover how Wasm can be used with Fluent Bit to extend Fluent Bit’s capabilities, enabling users to implement custom logic and functionalities. With the integration of Wasm, Fluent Bit can address a range of unique and sophisticated use cases.

We’ll also walk through a sample use case: dynamically routing logs based on Kubernetes labels.

Prerequisites

  • Kubernetes Cluster: We will deploy Fluent Bit in a Kubernetes cluster and ship logs of application containers inside Kubernetes. We will be using an EKS cluster, but any cluster will suffice.
  • Kubectl and Helm CLI: Installed on your local machine.
  • Golang (1.17 / 1.18): Wasm plugins will be written using Golang.
  • Tinygo (v0.24.0 or later): For building Wasm programs.
  • Familiarity with Fluent Bit concepts: If you’re unfamiliar with concepts such as inputs, outputs, parsers, and filters, please refer to the official documentation.

Understanding the use case

In enterprise environments, you often need to route application logs to multiple destinations based on some criteria. Fluent Bit routes logs based upon configuring tag and match fields for each plugin.

In order to route logs to multiple destinations, we need to configure the following:

  1. an input plugin to read logs from all application containers with a generic source tag.
  2. multiple output plugins (sending logs to different destinations) each with a specific match value.
  3. a filtering or transformation mechanism that examines the log record and modifies the source tag with an appropriate destination tag.
  4. a filter to add Kubernetes metadata to each log record. This metadata will be used to evaluate the destination tag.

In Fluent Bit, the filtering mechanism can be performed using the Rewrite Tag filter, which evaluates a log record against a regular expression. If the expression passes, then the source tag is modified.

But this filter operates only with regular expressions (regex). This restricts us from defining very intricate conditions. To illustrate, consider a Kubernetes Pod having the labels below:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: my-sample-pod
  labels:
    region: "ap-south-1"
    tenant: "private-a1"
    has-sensitive-data: "true"
...

We may have a requirement that if an application has label tenant equal to private-a1 and region equal to ap-south-1 and has-sensitive-data equal to true then we need to route these logs to S3 in ap-south-1 region.

Evaluating these conditions using regex would be extremely difficult.

However, with the Fluent Bit Wasm plugin, we can create a filter that facilitates retagging under multiple conditions. These conditions can incorporate logical and arithmetic operations, spanning several expressions — essentially, the capabilities we harness in conventional programming.

With the use case explained, let’s start by writing the Wasm program.

Writing the Wasm program

Fluent Bit has no additional requirements for executing Wasm plugins. We just need to write a program in a language that can compile to Wasm. We’ll be using Golang, but it could just as easily be done in any other language that Wasm supports.

Here is our Wasm filter written in Golang that supports our use case.

package main

import (
  "fmt"
  "unsafe"

  "github.com/valyala/fastjson"
)

//export go_filter
func go_filter(tag *uint8, tag_len uint, time_sec uint, time_nsec uint, record *uint8, record_len uint) *uint8 {
  // btag := unsafe.Slice(tag, tag_len) // Note, requires Go 1.17 (tinygo 0.20)
  // now := time.Unix(int64(time_sec), int64(time_nsec))
  brecord := unsafe.Slice(record, record_len)

  br := string(brecord)

  var p fastjson.Parser
  value, err := p.Parse(br)
  if err != nil {
    fmt.Println(err)
    return nil
  }
  obj, err := value.Object()
  if err != nil {
    fmt.Println(err)
    return nil
  }

  kubernetesObj := obj.Get("kubernetes")
  if kubernetesObj == nil {
    s := obj.String()
    s += string(rune(0)) // Note: explicit null terminator.
    rv := []byte(s)

    return &rv[0]
  }

  labelsObj := kubernetesObj.GetObject("labels")
  if labelsObj == nil {
    s := obj.String()
    s += string(rune(0)) // Note: explicit null terminator.
    rv := []byte(s)

    return &rv[0]
  }

  var ar fastjson.Arena
  var region, tenant, hasSensitiveData, newTag string

  if labelsObj.Get("region") != nil {
    region = labelsObj.Get("region").String()
  }
  if labelsObj.Get("tenant") != nil {
    tenant = labelsObj.Get("tenant").String()
  }
  if labelsObj.Get("has-sensitive-data") != nil {
    hasSensitiveData = labelsObj.Get("has-sensitive-data").String()
  }

  if region == "\"ap-south-1\"" && tenant == "\"private-a1\"" {
    newTag = "private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1"
    if hasSensitiveData == "\"true\"" {
      newTag = "private-a1-s3-ap-south-1"
    }
  } else if region == "\"ap-south-1\"" {
    newTag = "general-elastic-ap-south-1"
    if hasSensitiveData == "\"true\"" {
      newTag = "general-s3-ap-south-1"
    }
  } else {
    newTag = "general-elastic"
    if hasSensitiveData == "\"true\"" {
      newTag = "general-s3"
    }
  }

  obj.Set("new_tag", ar.NewString(newTag))
  s := obj.String()
  s += string(rune(0)) // Note: explicit null terminator.
  rv := []byte(s)

  return &rv[0]
}

func main() {}

 

Program explanation

The core logic is written in the function go_filter. This function name will also be used during Wasm plugin configuration.

The Wasm plugin must have the following function signature:

//export go_filter
func go_filter(tag *uint8, tag_len uint, time_sec uint, time_nsec uint, record *uint8, record_len uint) *uint8

Note: The comment //export go_filter on function is required, and it should be the same as the function name.

Using the function parameters we will have access to the original log record, tag, and timestamp. Here is an example log record:

{
    "log": "2023-10-02T06:52:52.843524746Z stdout F 122.30.117.241 - - [02/Oct/2023:06:52:23 +0000] GET /vortals HTTP/1.0 204 12615",
    "kubernetes": {
        "pod_name": "app-3-5f8ff8f8c6-xv5lw",
        "namespace_name": "default",
        "pod_id": "afddd062-c1d9-4333-b3d5-36abd61990eb",
        "labels": {
            "app": "app-3",
            "pod-template-hash": "5f8ff8f8c6"
        },
        "host": "ip-172-16-18-216.ap-south-1.compute.internal",
        "container_name": "app-3",
        "docker_id": "f8236c0b81a8926343d982cf94422d24fe882a4b19ec3db2b03482b1d30c8055",
        "container_hash": "docker.io/mingrammer/flog@sha256:44180f8610fab7d4c29ff233a79e19cf28bd425c1737aa59c72c1f66613fdf41",
        "container_image": "docker.io/mingrammer/flog:0.4.3"
    }
}

The Wasm plugin only allows for modifying the log record. However, to support our use case we have to modify the source tag based on some criteria. Therefore, instead of modifying the tag via the Wasm plugin, we’ll evaluate the tag value and insert a new_tag field in the original log. Using this new_tag, we utilize the Rewrite Tag filter for retagging based on simple equality checks.

Processing the record:

The function parameter record is of type byte slice — which presumably contains a JSON string — is converted to a Go string.

This string is then parsed using the fastjson package.

Kubernetes and labels:

The function checks if the parsed JSON has a kubernetes key. If not, the original JSON is returned.

If the kubernetes key exists, then it checks for a nested labels key.

Check and assign labels:

It looks for specific labels like region, tenant, and has-sensitive-data within the labels object.

Depending on the values of these labels, it determines a newTag.

Determine newTag:

If the region is ap-south-1 and the tenant is private-a1, it sets newTag to private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1. However, if the has-sensitive-data label is set to true, newTag will instead be private-a1-s3-ap-south-1.

If only the region is ap-south-1 without the specific tenant value, the logic is similar but uses the “general” prefix.

For any other region, the default is general-elastic, unless has-sensitive-data is true, in which case it becomes general-s3.

Modify and Return:

The determined newTag is added to the original JSON. The modified record will look like this:

The function then converts the modified JSON string back to a byte slice and returns a pointer to its first byte.

Note that there’s an explicit null terminator added to the end of the string before converting it back to a byte slice. This is necessary for compatibility with whatever system reads this output, perhaps a C/C++ framework.

The main function is empty because the primary function here (go_filter) is meant to be exported and used as a plugin.

For more info on writing Wasm plugins, follow the official documentation.

Instructions for compiling the Wasm program

Initialize a new Golang project using the below command:

mkdir go-filter && go mod init go-filter

Copy the above Golang program in a file called filter.go.

With our filter program written, let’s compile it using tinygo:

tinygo build -wasm-abi=generic -target=wasi -o filter.wasm filter.go

Configuring Fluent Bit To use the Wasm plugin

Ultimately, we are building a pipeline that is structured like this:

Diagram depicting dynamic log routing using Kubernetes labels with Fluent Bit, WebAssembly, and Kubernetes logos, showing a flow from input, filters adding Kubernetes metadata, custom WASM for fluentbit rewrite tag changes, to output.

Here’s the Fluent Bit configuration that enables the log processing pipeline depicted above:

[INPUT]
    Name  tail
    Tag   kube.*
    Path  /var/log/containers/*.log
    Exclude_Path  /var/log/containers/*default_fluent-bit*

[FILTER]
    Name   kubernetes
    Match  kube.*

[FILTER]
    Name wasm
    match kube.*
    Wasm_Path /fluent-bit/etc/filter.wasm
    Function_Name go_filter

[FILTER]
    Name   rewrite_tag
    Match  kube.*
    Rule   $new_tag private-a1-s3-ap-south-1 private-a1-s3-ap-south-1 false
    Rule   $new_tag private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1 private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1 false
    Rule   $new_tag general-s3-ap-south-1 general-s3-ap-south-1 false
    Rule   $new_tag general-elastic-ap-south-1 general-elastic-ap-south-1 false
    Rule   $new_tag general-s3 general-s3 false
    Rule   $new_tag general-elastic general-elastic false

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match kube.*

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match private-a1-s3-ap-south-1

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match general-s3-ap-south-1

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match general-elastic-ap-south-1

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match general-s3

[OUTPUT]
    Name  stdout
    Match general-elastic

Breaking down the configuration above, we define one input section:

  • Tail: This input section captures all container logs and tags them with kube.*.

The filter section applies three filters:

  1. Kubernetes Filter: This filter appends Kubernetes metadata to all logs aligned with the kube.* tag.
  2. Custom Wasm Filter: This section selects all the logs that match the tag kube.* and appends new_tag to it, whose value is evaluated as per the criterias we discussed above.
  3. Rewrite Tag Filter: This section selects all the logs that match the tag kube.* and applies a processing rule to them. The configuration value of Rule field is mapped to the format $KEY REGEX NEW_TAG KEEP
    1. $KEY: The key represents the name of the record key that holds the value that we want to use to match our regular expression. In our case, it is new_tag.
    2. Regex: We use simple equality regular expression. As Wasm plugin already evaluated the conditions.
    3. New Tag: If our regular expression matches the value of the defined key in the rule, we apply a new Tag for that specific record
    4. Keep: If a rule matches, the filter emits a copy of the record with the newly defined Tag. The keep property takes a boolean value to determine whether the original record with the old Tag should be preserved and continue in the pipeline or be discarded. In our case, we will be setting it to false

For more information about the rewrite_tag plugin, check the official documentation.

The output section of the configuration identifies multiple destinations.

We have configured seven plugins, each with a different match value. All of them use the stdout plugin, which sends data on Fluent Bit’s standard output. This is done for demonstration purposes only—in a practical scenario we would have sent it to S3, Elasticsearch, or some other destination.

Instructions for configuring Fluent Bit

Creating Kubernetes configmap:

For Fluent Bit to access the Wasm plugin, the plugin should be available as a file in the container. We will create a Kubernetes configmap, which contains the required Wasm file, and mount it to the Fluent Bit container as a file. Go to the directory where filter.wasm exists and execute the below command:

kubectl create configmap wasm-filter --from-file=filter.wasm  --namespace=default

Add the Fluent Bit Helm repo:

Use the command below to add the Fluent Bit Helm repository:

helm repo add fluent <https://fluent.github.io/helm-charts>

Override the default configuration:

Create a file called values.yaml with the following contents:

config:
    inputs: |
        [INPUT]
            Name  tail
            Tag   kube.*
            Path  /var/log/containers/*.log
            Exclude_Path  /var/log/containers/*default_fluent-bit*

    filters: |
        [FILTER]
            Name   kubernetes
            Match  kube.*
        [FILTER]
            Name wasm
            match kube.*
            Wasm_Path /fluent-bit/etc/wasm/config/filter.wasm
            Function_Name go_filter
        [FILTER]
            Name   rewrite_tag
            Match  kube.*
            Rule   $new_tag private-a1-s3-ap-south-1 private-a1-s3-ap-south-1 false
            Rule   $new_tag private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1 private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1 false
            Rule   $new_tag general-s3-ap-south-1 general-s3-ap-south-1 false
            Rule   $new_tag general-elastic-ap-south-1 general-elastic-ap-south-1 false
            Rule   $new_tag general-s3 general-s3 false
            Rule   $new_tag general-elastic general-elastic false

    outputs: |
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match kube.*
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match private-a1-s3-ap-south-1
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match private-a1-elastic-ap-south-1
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match general-s3-ap-south-1
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match general-elastic-ap-south-1
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match general-s3
        [OUTPUT]
            Name  stdout
            Match general-elastic
extraVolumes:
    - name: wasm-filter
      configMap:
          name: wasm-filter
extraVolumeMounts:
    - name: wasm-filter
      mountPath: /fluent-bit/etc/wasm/config

Deploy Fluent Bit

Use the command below:

helm upgrade -i fluent-bit fluent/fluent-bit --values values.yaml

Wait for the Fluent Bit pods to run

Ensure that the Fluent Bit pods reach the Running state.

kubectl get pods

Verify Fluent Bit logs

Use the command below to check Fluent Bit logs:

kubectl logs  -f

You should be able to view the modified tags as shown in the above below.

A screen displaying lines of code with a highlighted section in the middle. The text, including various parameters, timestamps, and log information, seems to involve the use of Fluentbit for log management.

Conclusion & learning more

In this post, we examined how to use Fluent Bit and Wasm to dynamically route logs using Kubernetes labels.

The Wasm plugin is just one option for processing data with Fluent Bit. If you are interested in exploring more about Fluent Bit’s ability to process and transform streaming data we recommend the following:

  • Fluent Bit: Advanced Processing” — This on-demand webinar provides an introduction to processing with Fluent Bit and demonstrates best practices and real-world examples for redaction, reduction, enrichment, and tagging of log data.
  • Creating custom processing rules for Fluent Bit with Lua” — In addition to support for Wasm, Fluent Bit also supports custom scripts written in Lua. This step-by-step tutorial walks you through several examples.

To learn even more about Fluent Bit, check out Fluent Bit Academy, your destination for best practices and how-tos on advanced processing, routing, and all things Fluent Bit.

About Fluent Bit and Chronosphere

With Chronosphere’s acquisition of Calyptia in 2024, Chronosphere became the primary corporate sponsor of Fluent Bit. Eduardo Silva — the original creator of Fluent Bit and co-founder of Calyptia — leads a team of Chronosphere engineers dedicated full-time to the project, ensuring its continuous development and improvement.

Fluent Bit is a graduated project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) under the umbrella of Fluentd, alongside other foundational technologies such as Kubernetes and Prometheus. Chronosphere is also a silver-level sponsor of the CNCF.

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