# Panic threshold¶

During load balancing, Envoy will generally only consider healthy hosts in an upstream cluster. However, if the percentage of healthy hosts in the cluster becomes too low, Envoy will disregard health status and balance amongst all hosts. This is known as the panic threshold. The default panic threshold is 50%. This is configurable via runtime as well as in the cluster configuration. The panic threshold is used to avoid a situation in which host failures cascade throughout the cluster as load increases.

Panic thresholds work in conjunction with priorities. If the number of healthy hosts in a given priority goes down, Envoy will try to shift some traffic to lower priorities. If it succeeds in finding enough healthy hosts in lower priorities, Envoy will disregard panic thresholds. In mathematical terms, if normalized total health across all priority levels is 100%, Envoy disregards panic thresholds and continues to distribute traffic load across priorities according to the algorithm described here. However, when normalized total health drops below 100%, Envoy assumes that there are not enough healthy hosts across all priority levels. It continues to distribute traffic load across priorities, but if a given priority level’s health is below the panic threshold, traffic will go to all hosts in that priority level regardless of their health.

The following examples explain the relationship between normalized total health and panic threshold. It is assumed that the default value of 50% is used for the panic threshold.

Assume a simple set-up with 2 priority levels, P=1 100% healthy. In this scenario normalized total health is always 100%, P=0 never enters panic mode, and Envoy is able to shift as much traffic as necessary to P=1.

P=0 healthy endpoints
Traffic
to P=0
P=0 in panic Traffic to P=1 P=1 in panic normalized total health
72% 100% NO 0% NO 100%
71% 99% NO 1% NO 100%
50% 70% NO 30% NO 100%
25% 35% NO 65% NO 100%
0% 0% NO 100% NO 100%

If P=1 becomes unhealthy, panic threshold continues to be disregarded until the sum of the health P=0 + P=1 goes below 100%. At this point Envoy starts checking panic threshold value for each priority.

P=0 healthy endpoints P=1 healthy endpoints Traffic to P=0 P=0 in panic Traffic to P=1 P=1 in panic normalized total health
72% 72% 100% NO 0% NO 100%
71% 71% 99% NO 1% NO 100%
50% 60% 50% NO 50% NO 100%
25% 100% 25% NO 75% NO 100%
25% 25% 50% YES 50% YES 70%
5% 65% 7% YES 93% NO 98%

Note that panic thresholds can be configured per-priority.