Scale your cluster

MKE is designed for scaling horizontally as your applications grow in size and usage. You can add or remove nodes from the MKE cluster to make it scale to your needs.

Since MKE leverages the clustering functionality provided by Docker Engine, you use the docker swarm join command to add more nodes to your cluster. When joining new nodes, the MKE services automatically start running in that node.

When joining a node to a cluster you can specify its role: manager or worker.

  • Manager nodes

    Manager nodes are responsible for cluster management functionality and dispatching tasks to worker nodes. Having multiple manager nodes allows your cluster to be highly-available and tolerate node failures.

    Manager nodes also run all MKE components in a replicated way, so by adding additional manager nodes, you’re also making MKE highly available.

  • Worker nodes

    Worker nodes receive and execute your services and applications. Having multiple worker nodes allows you to scale the computing capacity of your cluster.

    When deploying Mirantis Secure Registry in your cluster, you deploy it to a worker node.

Join nodes to the cluster

To join nodes to the cluster, go to the MKE web UI and navigate to the Nodes page.

Click Add Node to add a new node.

  • Click Manager if you want to add the node as a manager.

  • Check Use a custom listen address option to specify the IP address of the host that you will be joining to the cluster.

  • Check the Use a custom advertise address option to specify the IP address that is advertised to all members of the cluster for API access.

Copy the displayed command, use ssh to log into the host that you want to join to the cluster, and run the docker swarm join command on the host.

To add a Windows node, click Windows and follow the instructions in Join Windows worker nodes to a cluster.

After you run the join command in the node, you can view the node in the MKE web UI.

Remove nodes from the cluster

  1. If the target node is a manager, you will need to first demote the node into a worker before proceeding with the removal:

    • From the MKE web UI, navigate to the Nodes page. Select the node you wish to remove and switch its role to Worker, wait until the operation completes, and confirm that the node is no longer a manager.

    • From the CLI, perform docker node ls and identify the nodeID or hostname of the target node. Then, run docker node demote <nodeID or hostname>.

  2. If the status of the worker node is Ready, you’ll need to manually force the node to leave the cluster. To do this, connect to the target node through SSH and run docker swarm leave --force directly against the local instance of MCR.

    Loss of quorum

    Do not perform this step if the node is still a manager, as this may cause loss of quorum.

  3. Now that the status of the node is reported as Down, you may remove the node:

    • From the MKE web UI, browse to the Nodes page and select the node. In the details pane, click Actions and select Remove. Click Confirm when you’re prompted.

    • From the CLI, perform docker node rm <nodeID or hostname>.

Pause and drain nodes

Once a node is part of the cluster you can change its role making a manager node into a worker and vice versa. You can also configure the node availability so that it is:

  • Active: the node can receive and execute tasks.

  • Paused: the node continues running existing tasks, but doesn’t receive new ones.

  • Drained: the node won’t receive new tasks. Existing tasks are stopped and replica tasks are launched in active nodes.

In the MKE web UI, browse to the Nodes page and select the node. In the details pane, click the Configure to open the Edit Node page.

If you’re load-balancing user requests to MKE across multiple manager nodes, when demoting those nodes into workers, don’t forget to remove them from your load-balancing pool.

Use the CLI to scale your cluster

You can also use the command line to do all of the above operations. To get the join token, run the following command on a manager node:

docker swarm join-token worker

If you want to add a new manager node instead of a worker node, use docker swarm join-token manager instead. If you want to use a custom listen address, add the --listen-addr arg:

docker swarm join \
    --token SWMTKN-1-2o5ra9t7022neymg4u15f3jjfh0qh3yof817nunoioxa9i7lsp-dkmt01ebwp2m0wce1u31h6lmj \
    --listen-addr \

Once your node is added, you can see it by running docker node ls on a manager:

docker node ls

To change the node’s availability, use:

docker node update --availability drain node2

You can set the availability to active, pause, or drain.

To remove the node, use:

docker node rm <node-hostname>