Service Ping Guide

Introduced in GitLab Ultimate 11.2, more statistics.

This guide describes Service Ping’s purpose and how it’s implemented.

For more information about Product Intelligence, see:

More links:

What is Service Ping?

Service Ping is a process in GitLab that collects and sends a weekly payload to GitLab Inc. The payload provides important high-level data that helps our product, support, and sales teams understand how GitLab is used. For example, the data helps to:

  • Compare counts month over month (or week over week) to get a rough sense for how an instance uses different product features.
  • Collect other facts that help us classify and understand GitLab installations.
  • Calculate our Stage Monthly Active Users (SMAU), which helps to measure the success of our stages and features.

Service Ping information is not anonymous. It’s linked to the instance’s hostname. However, it does not contain project names, usernames, or any other specific data.

Sending a Service Ping payload is optional and can be disabled on any self-managed instance. When Service Ping is enabled, GitLab gathers data from the other instances and can show your instance’s usage statistics to your users.

Terminology

We use the following terminology to describe the Service Ping components:

  • Service Ping: the process that collects and generates a JSON payload.
  • Service Data: the contents of the Service Ping JSON payload. This includes metrics.
  • Metrics: primarily made up of row counts for different tables in an instance’s database. Each metric has a corresponding metric definition in a YAML file.

Why should we enable Service Ping?

  • The main purpose of Service Ping is to build a better GitLab. Data about how GitLab is used is collected to better understand feature/stage adoption and usage, which helps us understand how GitLab is adding value and helps our team better understand the reasons why people use GitLab and with this knowledge we’re able to make better product decisions.
  • As a benefit of having Service Ping active, GitLab lets you analyze the users’ activities over time of your GitLab installation.
  • As a benefit of having Service Ping active, GitLab provides you with The DevOps Report,which gives you an overview of your entire instance’s adoption of Concurrent DevOps from planning to monitoring.
  • You get better, more proactive support. (assuming that our TAMs and support organization used the data to deliver more value)
  • You get insight and advice into how to get the most value out of your investment in GitLab. Wouldn’t you want to know that a number of features or values are not being adopted in your organization?
  • You get a report that illustrates how you compare against other similar organizations (anonymized), with specific advice and recommendations on how to improve your DevOps processes.
  • Service Ping is enabled by default. To disable it, see Disable Service Ping.
  • When Service Ping is enabled, you have the option to participate in our Registration Features Program and receive free paid features.

Registration Features Program

Introduced in GitLab 14.1.

Starting with GitLab version 14.1, free self-managed users running GitLab EE can receive paid features by registering with GitLab and sending us activity data via Service Ping. Features introduced here do not remove the feature from its paid tier. Users can continue to access the features in a paid tier without sharing usage data.

The paid feature available in this offering is Email from GitLab. Administrators can use this Premium feature to streamline their workflow by emailing all or some instance users directly from the Admin Area.

note
Registration is not yet required for participation, but will be added in a future milestone.

Limitations

  • Service Ping does not track frontend events things like page views, link clicks, or user sessions, and only focuses on aggregated backend events.
  • Because of these limitations we recommend instrumenting your products with Snowplow for more detailed analytics on GitLab.com and use Service Ping to track aggregated backend events on self-managed.

View the Service Ping payload

You can view the exact JSON payload sent to GitLab Inc. in the Admin Area. To view the payload:

  1. Sign in as a user with the Administrator role.
  2. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
  3. On the left sidebar, select Settings > Metrics and profiling.
  4. Expand the Usage statistics section.
  5. Select Preview payload.

For an example payload, see Example Service Ping payload.

Disable Service Ping

note
The method to disable Service Ping in the GitLab configuration file does not work in GitLab versions 9.3 to 13.12.3. See the troubleshooting section on how to disable it.

You can disable Service Ping either using the GitLab UI, or editing the GitLab configuration file.

Disable Service Ping using the UI

To disable Service Ping in the GitLab UI:

  1. Sign in as a user with the Administrator role.
  2. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
  3. On the left sidebar, select Settings > Metrics and profiling.
  4. Expand the Usage statistics section.
  5. Clear the Enable service ping checkbox.
  6. Select Save changes.

Disable Service Ping using the configuration file

To disable Service Ping and prevent it from being configured in the future through the Admin Area:

For installations using the Linux package:

  1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    gitlab_rails['usage_ping_enabled'] = false
    
  2. Reconfigure GitLab:

    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    

For installations from source:

  1. Edit /home/git/gitlab/config/gitlab.yml:

    production: &base
      # ...
      gitlab:
        # ...
        usage_ping_enabled: false
    
  2. Restart GitLab:

    sudo service gitlab restart
    

Service Ping request flow

The following example shows a basic request/response flow between a GitLab instance, the Versions Application, the License Application, Salesforce, the GitLab S3 Bucket, the GitLab Snowflake Data Warehouse, and Sisense:

sequenceDiagram participant GitLab Instance participant Versions Application participant Licenses Application participant Salesforce participant S3 Bucket participant Snowflake DW participant Sisense Dashboards GitLab Instance->>Versions Application: Send Service Ping loop Process usage data Versions Application->>Versions Application: Parse usage data Versions Application->>Versions Application: Write to database Versions Application->>Versions Application: Update license ping time end loop Process data for Salesforce Versions Application-xLicenses Application: Request Zuora subscription id Licenses Application-xVersions Application: Zuora subscription id Versions Application-xSalesforce: Request Zuora account id by Zuora subscription id Salesforce-xVersions Application: Zuora account id Versions Application-xSalesforce: Usage data for the Zuora account end Versions Application->>S3 Bucket: Export Versions database S3 Bucket->>Snowflake DW: Import data Snowflake DW->>Snowflake DW: Transform data using dbt Snowflake DW->>Sisense Dashboards: Data available for querying Versions Application->>GitLab Instance: DevOps Report (Conversational Development Index)

How Service Ping works

  1. The Service Ping cron job is set in Sidekiq to run weekly.
  2. When the cron job runs, it calls Gitlab::UsageData.to_json.
  3. Gitlab::UsageData.to_json cascades down to ~400+ other counter method calls.
  4. The response of all methods calls are merged together into a single JSON payload in Gitlab::UsageData.to_json.
  5. The JSON payload is then posted to the Versions application If a firewall exception is needed, the required URL depends on several things. If the hostname is version.gitlab.com, the protocol is TCP, and the port number is 443, the required URL is https://version.gitlab.com/.

On a Geo secondary site

We also collect metrics specific to Geo secondary sites to send with Service Ping.

  1. The Geo secondary service ping cron job is set in Sidekiq to run weekly.
  2. When the cron job runs, it calls SecondaryUsageData.update_metrics!. This collects the relevant metrics from Prometheus and stores the data in the Geo secondary tracking database for transmission to the primary site during a Geo node status update.
  3. Geo node status data is sent with the JSON payload in the process described above. The following is an example of the payload where each object in the array represents a Geo node:

    [
      {
        "repository_verification_enabled"=>true,
        "repositories_replication_enabled"=>true,
        "repositories_synced_count"=>24,
        "repositories_failed_count"=>0,
        "attachments_replication_enabled"=>true,
        "attachments_count"=>1,
        "attachments_synced_count"=>1,
        "attachments_failed_count"=>0,
        "git_fetch_event_count_weekly"=>nil,
        "git_push_event_count_weekly"=>nil,
        ... other geo node status fields
      }
    ]
    

Implementing Service Ping

See the implement Service Ping guide.

Example Service Ping payload

The following is example content of the Service Ping payload.

{
  "uuid": "0000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000",
  "hostname": "example.com",
  "version": "12.10.0-pre",
  "installation_type": "omnibus-gitlab",
  "active_user_count": 999,
  "recorded_at": "2020-04-17T07:43:54.162+00:00",
  "edition": "EEU",
  "license_md5": "00000000000000000000000000000000",
  "license_id": null,
  "historical_max_users": 999,
  "licensee": {
    "Name": "ABC, Inc.",
    "Email": "email@example.com",
    "Company": "ABC, Inc."
  },
  "license_user_count": 999,
  "license_starts_at": "2020-01-01",
  "license_expires_at": "2021-01-01",
  "license_plan": "ultimate",
  "license_add_ons": {
  },
  "license_trial": false,
  "counts": {
    "assignee_lists": 999,
    "boards": 999,
    "ci_builds": 999,
    ...
  },
  "container_registry_enabled": true,
  "dependency_proxy_enabled": false,
  "gitlab_shared_runners_enabled": true,
  "gravatar_enabled": true,
  "influxdb_metrics_enabled": true,
  "ldap_enabled": false,
  "mattermost_enabled": false,
  "omniauth_enabled": true,
  "prometheus_enabled": false,
  "prometheus_metrics_enabled": false,
  "reply_by_email_enabled": "incoming+%{key}@incoming.gitlab.com",
  "signup_enabled": true,
  "web_ide_clientside_preview_enabled": true,
  "projects_with_expiration_policy_disabled": 999,
  "projects_with_expiration_policy_enabled": 999,
  ...
  "elasticsearch_enabled": true,
  "license_trial_ends_on": null,
  "geo_enabled": false,
  "git": {
    "version": {
      "major": 2,
      "minor": 26,
      "patch": 1
    }
  },
  "gitaly": {
    "version": "12.10.0-rc1-93-g40980d40",
    "servers": 56,
    "clusters": 14,
    "filesystems": [
      "EXT_2_3_4"
    ]
  },
  "gitlab_pages": {
    "enabled": true,
    "version": "1.17.0"
  },
  "container_registry_server": {
    "vendor": "gitlab",
    "version": "2.9.1-gitlab"
  },
  "database": {
    "adapter": "postgresql",
    "version": "9.6.15",
    "pg_system_id": 6842684531675334351
  },
  "analytics_unique_visits": {
    "g_analytics_contribution": 999,
    ...
  },
  "usage_activity_by_stage": {
    "configure": {
      "project_clusters_enabled": 999,
      ...
    },
    "create": {
      "merge_requests": 999,
      ...
    },
    "manage": {
      "events": 999,
      ...
    },
    "monitor": {
      "clusters": 999,
      ...
    },
    "package": {
      "projects_with_packages": 999
    },
    "plan": {
      "issues": 999,
      ...
    },
    "release": {
      "deployments": 999,
      ...
    },
    "secure": {
      "user_container_scanning_jobs": 999,
      ...
    },
    "verify": {
      "ci_builds": 999,
      ...
    }
  },
  "usage_activity_by_stage_monthly": {
    "configure": {
      "project_clusters_enabled": 999,
      ...
    },
    "create": {
      "merge_requests": 999,
      ...
    },
    "manage": {
      "events": 999,
      ...
    },
    "monitor": {
      "clusters": 999,
      ...
    },
    "package": {
      "projects_with_packages": 999
    },
    "plan": {
      "issues": 999,
      ...
    },
    "release": {
      "deployments": 999,
      ...
    },
    "secure": {
      "user_container_scanning_jobs": 999,
      ...
    },
    "verify": {
      "ci_builds": 999,
      ...
    }
  },
  "topology": {
    "duration_s": 0.013836685999194742,
    "application_requests_per_hour": 4224,
    "query_apdex_weekly_average": 0.996,
    "failures": [],
    "nodes": [
      {
        "node_memory_total_bytes": 33269903360,
        "node_memory_utilization": 0.35,
        "node_cpus": 16,
        "node_cpu_utilization": 0.2,
        "node_uname_info": {
          "machine": "x86_64",
          "sysname": "Linux",
          "release": "4.19.76-linuxkit"
        },
        "node_services": [
          {
            "name": "web",
            "process_count": 16,
            "process_memory_pss": 233349888,
            "process_memory_rss": 788220927,
            "process_memory_uss": 195295487,
            "server": "puma"
          },
          {
            "name": "sidekiq",
            "process_count": 1,
            "process_memory_pss": 734080000,
            "process_memory_rss": 750051328,
            "process_memory_uss": 731533312
          },
          ...
        ],
        ...
      },
      ...
    ]
  }
}

Notable changes

In GitLab 13.5, pg_system_id was added to send the PostgreSQL system identifier.

Export Service Ping SQL queries and definitions

Two Rake tasks exist to export Service Ping definitions.

  • The Rake tasks export the raw SQL queries for count, distinct_count, sum.
  • The Rake tasks export the Redis counter class or the line of the Redis block for redis_usage_data.
  • The Rake tasks calculate the alt_usage_data metrics.

In the home directory of your local GitLab installation run the following Rake tasks for the YAML and JSON versions respectively:

# for YAML export
bin/rake gitlab:usage_data:dump_sql_in_yaml

# for JSON export
bin/rake gitlab:usage_data:dump_sql_in_json

# You may pipe the output into a file
bin/rake gitlab:usage_data:dump_sql_in_yaml > ~/Desktop/usage-metrics-2020-09-02.yaml

Generating and troubleshooting Service Ping

This activity is to be done via a detached screen session on a remote server.

Before you begin these steps, make sure the key is added to the SSH agent locally with the ssh-add command.

Triggering

  1. Connect to bastion with agent forwarding: $ ssh -A lb-bastion.gprd.gitlab.com
  2. Create named screen: $ screen -S <username>_usage_ping_<date>
  3. Connect to console host: $ ssh $USER-rails@console-01-sv-gprd.c.gitlab-production.internal
  4. Run SubmitUsagePingService.new.execute
  5. Detach from screen: ctrl + a, ctrl + d
  6. Exit from bastion: $ exit

Verification (After approx 30 hours)

  1. Reconnect to bastion: $ ssh -A lb-bastion.gprd.gitlab.com
  2. Find your screen session: $ screen -ls
  3. Attach to your screen session: $ screen -x 14226.mwawrzyniak_usage_ping_2021_01_22
  4. Check the last payload in raw_usage_data table: RawUsageData.last.payload
  5. Check the when the payload was sent: RawUsageData.last.sent_at

Troubleshooting

Cannot disable Service Ping using the configuration file

The method to disable Service Ping using the GitLab configuration file does not work in GitLab versions 9.3.0 to 13.12.3. To disable it, you need to use the Admin Area in the GitLab UI instead. For more information, see this issue.

GitLab functionality and application settings cannot override or circumvent restrictions at the network layer. If Service Ping is blocked by your firewall, you are not impacted by this bug.

Check if you are affected

You can check if you were affected by this bug by using the Admin Area or by checking the configuration file of your GitLab instance:

  • Using the Admin Area:

    1. On the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
    2. On the left sidebar, select Settings > Metrics and profiling.
    3. Expand Usage Statistics.
    4. Are you able to check or uncheck the checkbox to disable Service Ping?

      • If yes, your GitLab instance is not affected by this bug.
      • If you can’t check or uncheck the checkbox, you are affected by this bug. See the steps on how to fix this.
  • Checking your GitLab instance configuration file:

    To check whether you’re impacted by this bug, check your instance configuration settings. The configuration file in which Service Ping can be disabled depends on your installation and deployment method, but is typically one of the following:

    • /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb for Omnibus GitLab Linux Package and Docker.
    • charts.yaml for GitLab Helm and cloud-native Kubernetes deployments.
    • gitlab.yml for GitLab installations from source.

    To check the relevant configuration file for strings that indicate whether Service Ping is disabled, you can use grep:

    # Linux package
    grep "usage_ping_enabled'\] = false" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb
    
    # Kubernetes charts
    grep "enableUsagePing: false" values.yaml
    
    # From source
    grep "usage_ping_enabled'\] = false" gitlab/config.yml
    

    If you see any output after running the relevant command, your GitLab instance may be affected by the bug. Otherwise, your instance is not affected.

How to fix the “Cannot disable Service Ping” bug

To work around this bug, you have two options:

  • Update to GitLab 13.12.4 or newer to fix this bug.
  • If you can’t update to GitLab 13.12.4 or newer, enable Service Ping in the configuration file, then disable Service Ping in the UI. For example, if you’re using the Linux package:

    1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

      gitlab_rails['usage_ping_enabled'] = true
      
    2. Reconfigure GitLab:

      sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
      
    3. In GitLab, on the top bar, select Menu > Admin.
    4. On the left sidebar, select Settings > Metrics and profiling.
    5. Expand Usage Statistics.
    6. Clear the Enable service ping checkbox.
    7. Select Save Changes.