Increase stateful app availability with Stateful HA Operator

Stateful High Availability (HA) Operator allows you to use GKE's built-in integration with regional Persistent Disk to automate and control the speed of StatefulSet Pod failover. During failover, the operator automatically handles detecting node failure, detaching a volume from a failed node, and ensuring safe volume attachment to the failover node.

Why use Stateful HA Operator

A common stateful architecture for achieving high availability uses regional Persistent Disks as the storage layer. These disks provide synchronous replication of data between two zones in a region. During node or zonal network failures, this architecture lets your workloads failover (by force-attaching) replicas to storage on another node in a different zone.

Stateful HA Operator lets you make the following optimizations:

  • Improve recovery time of single-replica applications: If you use only one replica, you can use Stateful HA Operator and swap out zonal storage for regional storage when your application is provisioned, to increase data durability and availability in the event of a node failure.
  • Reduce cross-zone networking costs: Replicating data across multiple zones can be costly for high throughput applications. You can use Stateful HA Operator to run your application in a single zone, while maintaining a failover path to an alternate zone that fits your application's SLA.


With a single-replica Stateful HA Operator architecture, GKE persists your data in two zones through regional Persistent Disk but data is only accessible while your application replica is healthy. During a failover, your application will be temporarily unavailable while your replica is rescheduling to a new healthy node. If your application has a very low recovery time objective (RTO), we recommend using a multi-replica approach.

Before you begin

Before you start, make sure you have performed the following tasks:

  • Enable the Google Kubernetes Engine API.
  • Enable Google Kubernetes Engine API
  • If you want to use the Google Cloud CLI for this task, install and then initialize the gcloud CLI. If you previously installed the gcloud CLI, get the latest version by running gcloud components update.


  • Your cluster control plane and nodes must be running GKE version 1.28 or later.
  • When you use Stateful HA Operator, it automatically configures your linked StatefulSet to use regional Persistent Disks. However, you are responsible for ensuring that Pods are configured to use these disks, and capable of running in all zones associated with the underlying storage.
  • Make sure your application runs on machine shapes that regional Persistent Disk supports: E2, N1, N2, N2D.
  • Make sure that the Compute Engine Persistent Disk CSI driver is enabled. The Persistent Disk CSI driver is enabled by default on new Autopilot and Standard clusters and cannot be disabled or edited when using Autopilot. If you need to manually add the Persistent Disk CSI driver from your cluster, see Enabling the Persistent Disk CSI driver on an existing cluster.
  • If you are using a custom StorageClass, configure the Persistent Disk CSI driver with the provisioner and these parameters:
    • availability-class: regional-hard-failover
    • replication-type: regional-pd

Set up and use Stateful HA Operator

Follow these steps to set up Stateful HA Operator for your stateful workloads:

  1. Enable the StatefulHA add-on.
  2. Install a HighAvailabilityApplication resource.
  3. Install a StatefulSet.
  4. Inspect the HighAvailabilityApplication resource.

Enable the StatefulHA add-on

To use the Stateful HA Operator, the StatefulHA add-on must be enabled on your cluster.

  • Autopilot clusters: GKE automatically enables the StatefulHA add-on at cluster creation. If your want to use Stateful HA Operator for an existing workload, re-deploy your workload on a new Autopilot cluster.

  • Standard clusters:

    • New cluster creation: Follow the gcloud CLI instructions to create a Standard cluster and add the following flag: --add-on=StatefulHA.
    • Existing Standard cluster: Follow the gcloud CLI instructions to update a Standard cluster's settings, and use the following flag to enable the add-on: --update-addons=StatefulHA=ENABLED`.

GKE automatically installs a StorageClass named standard-rwo-regional for you when the add-on is enabled.

Install a HighAvailabilityApplication resource

HighAvailabilityApplication is a Kubernetes resource that simplifies StatefulSet settings and increases Pod availability on GKE. Stateful HA Operator reconciles HighAvailabilityApplication resources on GKE.

In the HighAvailabilityApplication specification, you must set HighAvailabilityApplication.spec.resourceSelection.resourceKind to StatefulSet.

To learn how to confgure the HighAvailability resource, refer to the HighAvailabilityApplication reference documentation.

See the following example for PostgreSQL:

  1. Save the following manifest in a file named stateful-ha-example-resource.yaml:

    kind: HighAvailabilityApplication
      name: APP_NAME
      namespace: APP_NAMESPACE
        resourceKind: StatefulSet
          requireRegionalStorage: true
          forceDeleteStrategy: AfterNodeUnreachable
            afterNodeUnreachableSeconds: 20

    Replace the following:

    • APP_NAME: the name of an application in your cluster that you want to protect. This name must be shared by both the HighAvailabilityApplication and StatefulSet.
    • APP_NAMESPACE: the application namespace. This namespace must be shared by both the HighAvailabilityApplication and StatefulSet being protected.

    In this example:

    • HighAvailabilityApplication.spec.policy.storageSettings.requireRegionalSettings is set to true. This enforces regional storage.
    • HighAvailabilityApplication.spec.policy.failoverSettings is set to AfterNodeUnreachable. This determines how force delete is triggered on node failure.
    • HighAvailabilityApplication.spec.policy.failoverSettings.afterNodeUnreachable is set to 20. This is the timeout to force delete a Pod after the node it's running in is marked as unreachable.
  2. Create the resource. The HighAvailabilityApplication resource identifies a StatefulSet with a matching namespace and name.

    kubectl apply -f stateful-ha-example-resource.yaml

Install a StatefulSet

Install a StatefulSet. For example, you can install a PostgreSQL StatefulSet using Helm (Helm comes pre-installed with Cloud Shell):

helm install postgresql oci:// \
  --namespace=APP_NAMESPACE \
  --set fullnameOverride=APP_NAME

The HighAvailabilityApplication resource automatically modifies the StatefulSet's StorageClass to standard-rwo-regional, which uses regional Persistent Disk.

Inspect the HighAvailabilityApplication resource

Run the following command to verify that the example application has automated failover enabled:

kubectl describe highavailabilityapplication APP_NAME

The output should appear similar to the following:

  Last Transition Time:  2023-08-09T23:59:52Z
  Message:               Application is protected
  Observed Generation:   1
  Reason:                ApplicationProtected
  Status:                True
  Type:                  Protected