Orca: Zombie Executions

Aliases: orphaned execution

A zombie Execution is one that has a status in the database of RUNNING but there are no messages in Orca’s work queue or unacked set—the pipeline or task is not doing anything.


Logs will be emitted regularly for Executions that are currently running in Orca via the QueueProcessor class, which will look similar to the following example. If no logs have been emitted for over 10 minutes for a RUNNING Execution, it is very likely a zombie.

Received message RunTask(executionType=pipeline, executionId=01CT1ST3MBJ9ECPH5JM5HVJARE, application=myapplication, stageId=01CT1ST4P79Y3MPW6FC4H38N3A, taskId=8, taskType=class com.netflix.spinnaker.orca.clouddriver.tasks.instance.WaitForUpInstancesTask)

Metrics & Alerting

Orca can be configured to detect and emit metrics for zombie Executions. This setting is expensive with the RedisExecutionRepository and is disabled by default. You can enable this detection by setting queue.zombieCheck.enabled: true in your Orca configuration.

When enabled, any discovered zombies will be logged out, as well as emitted via a metric:

Found zombie executionType=pipeline application=myapplication executionName=myexample executionId=01CS076X85RX6MWBTQ0VGBF8VX

If you’ve enabled the zombie check, set an alert on the metric queue.zombies, triggering whenever there is a count greater than 0.


You can run this command to cancel a zombie execution via the Orca admin API:

POST /admin/queue/zombies/{executionId}:kill

There is also a blanket kill command, which takes a minimumActivity Duration query parameter (e.g. PT1H for 1 hour, the default). This command should be used with caution, as zombie detection can result in false positives. There is no risk in letting a zombie live, so be safe! It is not recommended to use a minimumActivity value less than 1 hour.

POST /admin/queue/zombies:kill?minimumActivity=PT1H

Known Causes

Zombie Executions can occur due to a loss of the Redis instance backing the Orca queue, or in prolonged unreliable networks. If you’re using the RedisExecutionRepository, it’s likely that when you lose the Redis backing the queue, you’re also losing all running Executions. However, while using the SQL backend for Orca, losing the Redis means you’re only losing the in-flight work queue state, not the state of the pipelines. In such a scenario, once Redis has been restored it will not have any messages to process and existing RUNNING Executions will sit unprocessed.