AWS Open Source Blog

Manage Your Open Distro for Elasticsearch Alerting Monitors With odfe-monitor-cli

When you use Open Distro for Elasticsearch Alerting, you create monitors in Kibana. Setting up monitors with a UI is fast and convenient, making it easy to get started. If monitoring is a major workload for your cluster, though, you may have hundreds or even thousands of monitors to create, update, and tune over time. Setting so many monitors using the Kibana UI would be time-consuming and tedious. Fortunately, the Alerting plugin has a REST API that makes it easier for you to manage your monitors from the command line.

If you’re new to the alerting features in Open Distro for Elasticsearch, take a look at some prior posts, where we covered the basics of setting up a monitor in Kibana and alerting on Open Distro for Elasticsearch Security audit logs.

The Alerting plugin’s REST API lets you perform CRUD and other operations on your monitors. odfe-monitor-cli uses this API for its requests, but lets you save your monitors in YAML files. You can build an automated pipeline to deploy monitors to your cluster and use that pipeline to deploy the same monitors to multiple clusters that support development, testing, and production. You can maintain your monitors in a source control system for sharing, versioning, and review. The CLI helps you guard against drift by reading monitors from your cluster and diffing them against your YAML files.

This blog post explains how to manage your monitors using YAML files through odfe-monitor-cli, available on GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license.


odfe-monitor-cli currently uses HTTP basic authentication. Make sure basic authentication is enabled on your cluster.

Install odfe-monitor-cli

The install process is a single command:

curl -sfL | bash -s -- -b /usr/local/bin

Note: See the odfe-monitor-cli README for other installation methods and instructions on how to build from source.

Once installation is successful, verify that it works as expected:

$ odfe-monitor-cli
This application will help you to manage the Opendistro alerting monitors using YAML files.

  odfe-monitor-cli [command]

Create and sync destinations

You define destinations in Open Distro for Elasticsearch Alerting to specify where messages (Slack, Chime, or custom) should be sent. odfe-monitor-cli doesn’t support managing destinations yet, so you need to use the Kibana UI to create them.

First, navigate to https://localhost:5601 to access Kibana. Log in, and select the Alerting tab. Select Destinations, and create a destination.


Open Distro for Elasticsearch's Alerting Destination definition pane. Setting up a destination for alerts.

On your computer, create a new directory, odfe-monitor-cli.This directory will hold the monitors you create, and any monitors or destinations you sync from your cluster.

$ mkdir odfe-monitor-cli
$ cd odfe-monitor-cli
$ odfe-monitor-cli sync --destinations #Sync remote destination

The final command in that sequence fetches all remote destinations and writes them to a new file, destinations.yml. The file contains a map of destination names and IDs. You’ll use the destination name later when you create a monitor. If you view the file using cat destinations.yml, it should look like this:

#destinations.yml file content
sample_destination: _6wzIGsBoP5_pydBFBzc

If you already have existing monitors on your cluster and would like to preserve them, you can sync those, as well. If not, skip this step. This command fetches all remote monitors to monitors.yml:

odfe-monitor-cli sync --monitors #Sync existing remote monitors

You can add additional directories under your root directory and break your monitors into multiple YAML files, organizing them however you see fit. When you use odfe-monitor-cli to send changes to your cluster, it walks the entire directory structure under the current directory, finding all .yml files. Use the --rootDir option to change the root directory to traverse.

Create a new monitor

Use a text editor to create a new file error-count-alert.yml. Copy and paste the yml below to that file, and change destinationId to the name of an existing destination. You can place your file anywhere in or below the odfe-monitor-cli directory.

- name: 'Sample Alerting monitor'
      interval: 10
      unit: MINUTES
  enabled: true
    - search:
          - log* # Change this as per monitor, this is just an example
        query: # This block should be valid Elasticsearch query
          size: 0
            match_all: {
              boost: 1.0
    - name: '500'
      severity: '2'
      condition: | #This is how you can create multiline
        // Performs some crude custom scoring and returns true if that score exceeds a certain value
        int score = 0;
        for (int i = 0; i < ctx.results[0].hits.hits.length; i++) {
          // Weighs 500 errors 10 times as heavily as 503 errors
          if (ctx.results[0].hits.hits[i]._source.http_status_code == "500") {
            score += 10;
          } else if (ctx.results[0].hits.hits[i]._source.http_status_code == "503") {
            score += 1;
        if (score > 99) {
          return true;
        } else {
          return true;
        - name: Sample Action
          destinationId: sample_destination #This destination should be available in destinations.yaml file otherwise it will throw an error.
          subject: 'There is an error'
          message: |
            Monitor {{}} just entered an alert state. Please investigate the issue.
            - Trigger: {{}}
            - Severity: {{ctx.trigger.severity}}
            - Period start: {{ctx.periodStart}}
            - Period end: {{ctx.periodEnd}}

odfe-monitor-cli provides a diff command that retrieves monitors from your cluster and walks your local directory structure to show you any differences between your cluster’s monitors and your local monitors. You can use the diff command to validate that no one has changed the monitors in your cluster. For now, call the diff command to verify that it finds the new monitor you just created.

$ odfe-monitor-cli diff
 These monitors are currently missing in alerting
name: 'Sample Alerting monitor'
type: 'monitor'

After verifying the diff, you could get any new or changed monitors reviewed by peers, or approved by your management or security department.

You use the push command to send your local changes to your Open Distro for Elasticsearch cluster. When you use push, odfe-monitor-cli calls the Run Monitor API to verify your monitor configurations and ensure that there are no errors. If any error occurs, odfe-monitor-cli displays the error with details. You can fix them and re-run the push command until you get a clean run.

By default, the push command runs in dry run mode, simply diffing and checking the syntax of any additions. Because it doesn’t publish anything to the cluster, it won’t publish any accidental changes. Use the --submit option to send your changes to your cluster when you’re ready:

$ odfe-monitor-cli push --submit

The push command does the following:

  • Runs and validates modified and new monitors.
  • Creates new monitors and updates existing monitors when the --submit flag is provided.
    : Pushing changes with --submit overrides any changes you have made to existing monitors on your cluster (via Kibana or any other way).
  • Does not delete any monitors. Provide --delete along with --submit to delete all untracked monitors. Be careful! You can’t un-delete monitors.


This post introduced you to odfe-monitor-cli, a command-line interface for managing monitors on your Open Distro for Elasticsearch cluster. odfe-monitor-cli makes it easy to store your monitors in version control and deploy these monitors to your Open Distro for Elasticsearch cluster. You can validate that your monitors work as intended and share monitors between environments.

Have an issue or question? Want to contribute? Check out the Open Distro for Elasticsearch forums. You can file issues here. We welcome your participation on the project! See you on the forums and code repos!

Mihir Soni

Mihir Soni

Mihir Soni (@sonimihir) is an Engineer at Amazon Web Services based in Seattle, WA. His projects center around the Kibana space for the AES team. He is also an open source enthusiast. He has been also core contributor for Ubuntu Mobile OS core applications. Mihir holds a Masters degree in Computer Engineering from the DA-IICT, India.