Elasticsearch OpenSearch Discovery

By Opster Team

Updated: Jun 19, 2024

| 2 min read

Overview

What is discovery in OpenSearch?

The process known as discovery occurs when an OpenSearch node starts, restarts or loses contact with the master node for any reason. In those cases, the node needs to contact other nodes in the cluster to find any existing master node or initiate the election of a new master node. 

How it works

Upon startup, each node looks for other nodes, firstly by contacting the IP addresses of eligible master nodes held in the previous cluster state.  If they are not available, it will look for nodes based upon the seed host provider mechanisms available.

Seed host providers may be defined in 3 ways: list based, file based or plugin based. All of these methods provide a list of IP addresses or hostnames which the node should contact in order to obtain a list of master eligible nodes. The node will contact all of these addresses in turn, until either an active master is found, or failing that, until sufficient nodes can be found to elect a new master node.

Examples

The simplest form is to define a list of seed host providers in opensearch.yml:

discovery.seed_hosts:
   - 192.168.1.10:9300
   - 192.168.1.11 
   - seeds.mydomain.com

An alternative way is to refer to a file using the following setting:

discovery.seed_providers: file

The file MUST be placed in the following filepath: $ES_PATH_CONF/unicast_hosts.txt

10.10.10.5
10.10.10.6:9305
10.10.10.5:10005
# an IPv6 address
[2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334]:9301

Note that the use of a port is optional. If not used, then the default port range of 9300-9400 will be used.

If you use AWS or GCS then you can install and use a plugin to obtain a list of seed hosts from an API.  A plugin also exists for Azure but is deprecated since version 5.

AWS plugin

A typical configuration could be as follows:

discovery.seed_providers: ec2
discovery.ec2.tag.role: master
discovery.ec2.tag.environment: dev
discovery.ec2.endpoint: ec2.us-east-1.amazonaws.com
cloud.node.auto_attributes: true
cluster.routing.allocation.awareness.attributes: aws_availability_zone

The above configuration would look for all nodes with a tag called “environment” set to “dev” and a tag called “role” set to “master”, in the AWS zone us-east-1. The last two lines set up cluster routing allocation awareness based upon aws availability zones. (Not necessary, but nice to have).

GCE plugin

A typical configuration could be as follows:

discovery.seed_providers: gce
cloud.gce.project_id: <your-google-project-id>
cloud.gce.zone: <your-zone>
discovery.gce.tags: <my-tag-name>

The above configuration would look for all virtual machines inside your project, zone and with a tag set to the tag name you provide.

Notes and good things to know

Cluster formation depends on correct setup of the network.host settings in opensearch.yml.  Make sure that the nodes can reach each other across the network using their IP addresses / hostname, and are not getting blocked due to firewall settings on the ports required.

Additional notes

Elasticsearch and OpenSearch are both powerful search and analytics engines, but Elasticsearch has several key advantages. Elasticsearch boasts a more mature and feature-rich development history, translating to a better user experience, more features, and continuous optimizations. Our testing has consistently shown that Elasticsearch delivers faster performance while using fewer compute resources than OpenSearch. Additionally, Elasticsearch’s comprehensive documentation and active community forums provide invaluable resources for troubleshooting and further optimization. Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, offers dedicated support, ensuring enterprise-grade reliability and performance. These factors collectively make Elasticsearch a more versatile, efficient, and dependable choice for organizations requiring sophisticated search and analytics capabilities.

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