Metrics (Enterprise)

In this guide, you use the rate limiting service’s default Prometheus metrics to alert when rules are near breach or broken.

For Gloo Edge Enterprise, you will need to enable rate-limit metrics using the following helm values:

      enabled: true

Prior versions of Gloo Edge Enterprise published rate-limit metrics to port 16070, which isn’t scraped by the default prometheus installation included with Gloo Edge Enterprise.

Rate limit metrics

The available rate limit metrics are shown in the following table.

Metric Description Aggregation Tag The number of hits over the limit Sum descriptor The number of hits near the limit (near limit is > 80% allowed by rule) Sum descriptor The total number of hits Sum descriptor The number times a descriptor was ignored as it did not match the configuration Count N/A The number of errors encountered by the rate-limit server Count type

The descriptor tag (i.e., a prometheus label) corresponds to the rule being referenced.

In this way, you can monitor and alert based on rate-limit rules/breaches, and quickly determine which rule was triggered (and by how much).

Example metric configuration

Follow along with this guide to learn about basic Prometheus and Grafana features that you can use with the rate limiting metrics. If you are already familiar with Prometheus and Grafana, you won’t get much out of this tutorial.

The examples in this guide demonstrate how metric alerting can work, but are not intended for production. For example, the over_limit alert shows how an alert is triggered when a threshold is exceeded. Because the over_limit metric is a sum, it does not reset to zero after reaching the threshold. Therefore, the alert continues, which is not a production use case.


Let’s start by setting up the virtual service and settings resources to match the rule priority example.

Triggering limits

Run the following; you should get HTTP 429 Too Many Requests on the second request.

curl -H "x-type: Whatsapp" -H "x-number: 311" --head $(glooctl proxy url)
curl -H "x-type: Whatsapp" -H "x-number: 311" --head $(glooctl proxy url)

Now let’s take a look at the published metrics.

Port-forward the Gloo Edge Enterprise’s Prometheus installation to port 9090:

kubectl port-forward -n gloo-system deployment/glooe-prometheus-server 9090

And open the Prometheus UI at localhost:9090.

In the dropdown, you can select the rate-limit metric you’d like to investigate. Let’s investigate ratelimit_solo_io_over_limit.

Add a PromQL query (prometheus query language) for ratelimit_solo_io_over_limit, choose the appropriate time window, and execute. If you click the graph tab, you should see a spike in queries over limit (click to enlarge):

Prometheus Graph

Note that the metric is labeled with descriptor: customtype_Whatsapp. This is saying that our request was over the limit associated with the custom descriptor Whatsapp (Rule 2, limit all Whatsapp requests to 1/min). Note that I actually made 5 requests over the limit – if you followed this tutorial exactly you should see 1 request.


The prometheus alerting docs can be leveraged for customized setups.

Alternatively, we can take any of our PromQL queries (e.g., ratelimit_solo_io_over_limit) and create an alert for this in Gloo Edge’s Grafana installation.

Port-forward the Gloo Edge Enterprise’s Grafana installation to port 3000:

kubectl port-forward deployment/glooe-grafana 3000 -n gloo-system

And open the Prometheus UI at localhost:3000.

Enter the Grafana credentials (by default, admin/admin).

On the left side there is a bell, hover on it and select alerting -> notification channels. This should show the following:

Create Notification Channel

For the sake of example, choose email, and save. We have not configured SMTP for Grafana, so the alerts won’t actually get delivered.

Now let’s create a dashboard and alert for the metric you’d like to alert on.

Go to the main menu and select “create a dashboard”. Fill in the PromQL query and as follows:

Create Dashboard

In the alert page, you should see the email destination you created as a valid destination. Select it, and save your dashboard:

Alert Setup

Further Drill Down

Sometimes you’d like to further drill down into the offending requests, as well as requests that contributed to rate-limit rule breaches. If the default metrics aren’t enough, the next recommended course of action is to do some analysis of your access logs. To get started, you can check out our access logs example here.