In Mesos, roles can be used to specify that certain resources are reserved for the use of one or more frameworks. Roles can be used to enable a variety of restrictions on how resources are offered to frameworks. Some use-cases for roles include:

  • arranging for all the resources on a particular agent to only be offered to a particular framework.
  • dividing a cluster between two organizations: resources reserved for use by organization A will only be offered to frameworks that have registered using organization A's role (see the reservation documentation).
  • ensuring that persistent volumes created by one framework are not offered to frameworks registered with a different role.
  • expressing that one group of frameworks should be considered "higher priority" (and offered more resources) than another group of frameworks.
  • setting a guaranteed resource allocation for one or more frameworks belonging to a role (see the quota documentation).

Roles and access control

There are two ways to control which roles a framework is allowed to register as. First, ACLs can be used to specify which framework principals can register as which roles. For more information, see the authorization documentation.

Second, a role whitelist can be configured by passing the --roles flag to the Mesos master at startup. This flag specifies a comma-separated list of role names. If the whitelist is specified, only roles that appear in the whitelist can be used. To change the whitelist, the Mesos master must be restarted. Note that in a high-availability deployment of Mesos, you should take care to ensure that all Mesos masters are configured with the same whitelist.

In Mesos 0.26 and earlier, you should typically configure both ACLs and the whitelist, because in these versions of Mesos, any role that does not appear in the whitelist cannot be used.

In Mesos 0.27, this behavior has changed: if --roles is not specified, the whitelist permits any role name to be used. Hence, in Mesos 0.27, the recommended practice is to only use ACLs to define which roles can be used; the --roles command-line flag is deprecated.

Associating frameworks with roles

A framework can optionally specify the role it would like to use when it registers with the master.

As a developer, you can specify the role your framework will use via the role field of the FrameworkInfo message.

As a user, you can typically specify which role a framework will use when you start the framework. How to do this depends on the user interface of the framework you're using; for example, Marathon takes a --mesos_role command-line flag.

Multiple frameworks in the same role

Multiple frameworks can use the same role. This can be useful: for example, one framework can create a persistent volume and write data to it. Once the task that writes data to the persistent volume has finished, the volume will be offered to other frameworks in the same role; this might give a second ("consumer") framework the opportunity to launch a task that reads the data produced by the first ("producer") framework.

However, configuring multiple frameworks to use the same role should be done with caution, because all the frameworks will have access to any resources that have been reserved for that role. For example, if a framework stores sensitive information on a persistent volume, that volume might be offered to a different framework in the same role. Similarly, if one framework creates a persistent volume, another framework in the same role might "steal" the volume and use it to launch a task of its own. In general, multiple frameworks sharing the same role should be prepared to collaborate with one another to ensure that role-specific resources are used appropriately.

Associating resources with roles

A resource is assigned to a role using a reservation. Resources can either be reserved statically (when the agent that hosts the resource is started) or dynamically: frameworks and operators can specify that a certain resource should subsequently be reserved for use by a given role. For more information, see the reservation documentation.

The default role

The role named * is special. Resources that are assigned to the * role are considered "unreserved"; similarly, when a framework registers without providing a role, it is assigned to the * role. By default, all the resources at an agent node are initially assigned to the * role (this can be changed via the --default_role command-line flag when starting the agent).

The * role behaves differently from non-default roles. For example, dynamic reservations can be used to reassign resources from the * role to a specific role, but not from one specific role to another specific role (without first unreserving the resource, e.g., using the /unreserve operator HTTP endpoint). Similarly, persistent volumes cannot be created on unreserved resources.

Invalid role

A role name must be a valid directory name, so it cannot:

  • Be an empty string
  • Be . or ..
  • Start with -
  • Contain any slash, backspace, or whitespace character

Roles and resource allocation

By default, the Mesos master uses Dominant Resource Fairness (DRF) to allocate resources. In particular, this implementation of DRF first identifies which role is furthest below its fair share of the role's dominant resource. Each of the frameworks in that role are then offered additional resources in turn.

The resource allocation process can be customized by assigning weights to roles: a role with a weight of 2 will be allocated twice the fair share of a role with a weight of 1. By default, every role has a weight of 1. Weights can be configured using the /weights operator endpoint, or else using the deprecated --weights command-line flag when starting the Mesos master.

Role vs. Principal

A principal identifies an entity that interacts with Mesos; principals are similar to user names. For example, frameworks supply a principal when they register with the Mesos master, and operators provide a principal when using the operator HTTP endpoints. An entity may be required to authenticate with its principal in order to prove its identity, and the principal may be used to authorize actions performed by an entity, such as resource reservation and persistent volume creation/destruction.

Roles, on the other hand, are used exclusively to associate resources with frameworks in various ways, as covered above.