Home Web Development Microservices with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud - Second Edition

Microservices with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud - Second Edition

By Magnus Larsson
books-svg-icon Book
eBook $39.99
Print $48.99
Subscription $15.99 $10 p/m for three months
$10 p/m for first 3 months. $15.99 p/m after that. Cancel Anytime!
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 7000+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with eBook + Subscription?
Download this book in EPUB and PDF formats, plus a monthly download credit
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with eBook?
Download this book in EPUB and PDF formats
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Read whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better reading experience
What do you get with video?
Download this video in MP4 format
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Watch whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better learning experience
What do you get with video?
Stream this video
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Watch whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better learning experience
What do you get with Audiobook?
Download a zip folder consisting of audio files (in MP3 Format) along with supplementary PDF
What do you get with Exam Trainer?
Flashcards, Mock exams, Exam Tips, Practice Questions
Access these resources with our interactive certification platform
Mobile compatible-Practice whenever, wherever, however you want
BUY NOW $10 p/m for first 3 months. $15.99 p/m after that. Cancel Anytime!
eBook $39.99
Print $48.99
Subscription $15.99 $10 p/m for three months
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 7000+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with eBook + Subscription?
Download this book in EPUB and PDF formats, plus a monthly download credit
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with a Packt Subscription?
This book & 6500+ ebooks & video courses on 1000+ technologies
60+ curated reading lists for various learning paths
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Early Access to eBooks as they are being written
Personalised content suggestions
Customised display settings for better reading experience
50+ new titles added every month on new and emerging tech
Playlists, Notes and Bookmarks to easily manage your learning
Mobile App with offline access
What do you get with eBook?
Download this book in EPUB and PDF formats
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Read whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better reading experience
What do you get with video?
Download this video in MP4 format
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Watch whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better learning experience
What do you get with video?
Stream this video
Access this title in our online reader
DRM FREE - Watch whenever, wherever and however you want
Online reader with customised display settings for better learning experience
What do you get with Audiobook?
Download a zip folder consisting of audio files (in MP3 Format) along with supplementary PDF
What do you get with Exam Trainer?
Flashcards, Mock exams, Exam Tips, Practice Questions
Access these resources with our interactive certification platform
Mobile compatible-Practice whenever, wherever, however you want
About this book
Want to build and deploy microservices, but don’t know where to start? Welcome to Microservices with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud. This edition features the most recent versions of Spring, Java, Kubernetes, and Istio, demonstrating faster and simpler handling of Spring Boot, local Kubernetes clusters, and Istio installation. The expanded scope includes native compilation of Spring-based microservices, support for Mac and Windows with WSL2, and an introduction to Helm 3 for packaging and deployment. A revamped security chapter now follows the OAuth 2.1 specification and makes use of the newly launched Spring Authorization Server from the Spring team. You’ll start with a set of simple cooperating microservices, then add persistence and resilience, make your microservices reactive, and document their APIs using OpenAPI. Next, you’ll learn how fundamental design patterns are applied to add important functionality, such as service discovery with Netflix Eureka and edge servers with Spring Cloud Gateway. You’ll deploy your microservices using Kubernetes and adopt Istio, then explore centralized log management using the Elasticsearch, Fluentd, and Kibana (EFK) stack, and then monitor microservices using Prometheus and Grafana. By the end of this book, you'll be building scalable and robust microservices using Spring Boot and Spring Cloud.
Publication date:
July 2021
Publisher
Packt
Pages
774
ISBN
9781801072977

 

PART II

Leveraging Spring Cloud to Manage Microservices

In this part, you'll gain an understanding of how Spring Cloud can be used to manage the challenges faced when developing microservices (that is, building a distributed system).

This part includes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud
  • Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka
  • Chapter 10, Using Spring Cloud Gateway to Hide Microservices behind an Edge Server
  • Chapter 11, Securing Access to APIs
  • Chapter 12, Centralized Configuration
  • Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j
  • Chapter 14, Understanding Distributed Tracing
 

Introduction to Spring Cloud

So far, we have seen how we can use Spring Boot to build microservices with well-documented APIs, along with Spring WebFlux and springdoc-openapi; persist data in MongoDB and SQL databases using Spring Data for MongoDB and JPA; build reactive microservices either as non-blocking APIs using Project Reactor or as event-driven asynchronous services using Spring Cloud Stream with RabbitMQ or Kafka, together with Docker; and manage and test a system landscape consisting of microservices, databases, and messaging systems.

Now, it's time to see how we can use Spring Cloud to make our services production-ready; that is scalable, robust, configurable, secure, and resilient.

In this chapter, we will introduce you to how Spring Cloud can be used to implement the following design patterns from Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Design patterns for microservices section:

  • Service discovery
  • Edge server
  • Centralized configuration
  • Circuit breaker
  • Distributed tracing

Technical requirements

This chapter does not contain any source code, and so no tools need to be installed.

The evolution of Spring Cloud

In its initial 1.0 release in March 2015, Spring Cloud was mainly a wrapper around tools from Netflix OSS, which are as follows:

  • Netflix Eureka, a discovery server
  • Netflix Ribbon, a client-side load balancer
  • Netflix Zuul, an edge server
  • Netflix Hystrix, a circuit breaker

The initial release of Spring Cloud also contained a configuration server and integration with Spring Security that provided OAuth 2.0 protected APIs. In May 2016, the Brixton release (v1.1) of Spring Cloud was made generally available. With the Brixton release, Spring Cloud got support for distributed tracing based on Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin, which originated from Twitter. These initial Spring Cloud components could be used to implement the preceding design patterns. For more details, see https://spring.io/blog/2015/03/04/spring-cloud-1-0-0-available-now and https://spring.io/blog/2016/05/11/spring-cloud-brixton-release-is-available.

Since its inception, Spring Cloud has grown considerably over the years and has added support for the following, among others:

  • Service discovery and centralized configuration based on HashiCorp Consul and Apache Zookeeper
  • Event-driven microservices using Spring Cloud Stream
  • Cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform

See https://spring.io/projects/spring-cloud for a complete list of tools.

Since the release of Spring Cloud Greenwich (v2.1) in January 2019, some of the Netflix tools mentioned previously have been placed in maintenance mode in Spring Cloud.

The reason for this is a mixture of Netflix no longer adding new features to some of the tools and Spring Cloud adding better alternatives. The following replacements are recommended by the Spring Cloud project:

Current component

Replaced by

Netflix Hystrix

Resilience4j

Netflix Hystrix Dashboard/Netflix Turbine

Micrometer and monitoring system

Netflix Ribbon

Spring Cloud LoadBalancer

Netflix Zuul

Spring Cloud Gateway

For more details, see:

With the release of Spring Cloud Ilford (v2020.0.0) in December 2020, the only remaining Netflix component in Spring Cloud is Netflix Eureka.

In this book, we will use the replacement alternatives to implement the design patterns mentioned previously. The following table maps each design pattern to the software components that will be used to implement it:

Design pattern

Software component

Service discovery

Netflix Eureka and Spring Cloud LoadBalancer

Edge server

Spring Cloud Gateway and Spring Security OAuth

Centralized configuration

Spring Cloud Configuration Server

Circuit breaker

Resilience4j

Distributed tracing

Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin

Now, let's go through the design patterns and introduce the software components that will be used to implement them!

Using Netflix Eureka for service discovery

Service discovery is probably the most important support function required to make a landscape of cooperating microservices production ready. As we already described in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Service discovery section, a service discovery service (or a discovery service as an abbreviation) can be used to keep track of existing microservices and their instances.

The first discovery service that Spring Cloud supported was Netflix Eureka.

We will use this in Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka, along with a load balancer based on Spring Cloud LoadBalancer.

We will see how easy it is to register microservices with Netflix Eureka when using Spring Cloud. We will also learn how a client can send HTTP requests, such as a call to a RESTful API, to one of the instances registered in Netflix Eureka. In addition, the chapter will cover how to scale up the number of instances of a microservice, and how requests to a microservice will be load-balanced over its available instances (based on, by default, round-robin scheduling).

The following screenshot demonstrates the web UI from Eureka, where we can see what microservices we have registered:

Figure 8.1: Viewing microservices currently registered with Eureka

From the preceding screenshot, we can see that the review service has three instances available, while the other three services only have one instance each.

With Netflix Eureka introduced, let's introduce how Spring Cloud can help to protect a microservices system landscape using an edge server.

Using Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server

Another very important support function is an edge server. As we already described in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Edge server section, it can be used to secure a microservice landscape, which involves hiding private services from external usage and protecting public services when they're used by external clients.

Initially, Spring Cloud used Netflix Zuul v1 as its edge server. Since the Spring Cloud Greenwich release, it's recommended to use Spring Cloud Gateway instead. Spring Cloud Gateway comes with similar support for critical features, such as URL path-based routing and the protection of endpoints via the use of OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect (OIDC).

One important difference between Netflix Zuul v1 and Spring Cloud Gateway is that Spring Cloud Gateway is based on non-blocking APIs that use Spring 5, Project Reactor, and Spring Boot 2, while Netflix Zuul v1 is based on blocking APIs. This means that Spring Cloud Gateway should be able to handle larger numbers of concurrent requests than Netflix Zuul v1, which is important for an edge server that all external traffic goes through.

The following diagram shows how all requests from external clients go through Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server. Based on URL paths, it routes requests to the intended microservice:

Figure 8.2: Requests being routed through an edge server

In the preceding diagram, we can see how the edge server will send external requests that have a URL path that starts with /product-composite/ to the Product Composite microservice. The core services Product, Recommendation, and Review are not reachable from external clients.

In Chapter 10, Using Spring Cloud Gateway to Hide Microservices Behind an Edge Server, we will look at how to set up Spring Cloud Gateway with our microservices.

In Chapter 11, Securing Access to APIs, we will see how we can use Spring Cloud Gateway together with Spring Security OAuth2 to protect access to the edge server using OAuth 2.0 and OIDC. We will also see how Spring Cloud Gateway can propagate identity information of the caller down to our microservices, for example, the username or email address of the caller.

With Spring Cloud Gateway introduced, let's see how Spring Cloud can help to manage the configuration of a system landscape of microservices.

Using Spring Cloud Config for centralized configuration

To manage the configuration of a system landscape of microservices, Spring Cloud contains Spring Cloud Config, which provides the centralized management of configuration files according to the requirements described in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Central configuration section.

Spring Cloud Config supports storing configuration files in a number of different backends, such as the following:

  • A Git repository, for example, on GitHub or Bitbucket
  • A local filesystem
  • HashiCorp Vault
  • A JDBC database

Spring Cloud Config allows us to handle configuration in a hierarchical structure; for example, we can place common parts of the configuration in a common file and microservice-specific settings in separate configuration files.

Spring Cloud Config also supports detecting changes in the configuration and pushing notifications to the affected microservices. It uses Spring Cloud Bus to transport the notifications. Spring Cloud Bus is an abstraction on top of Spring Cloud Stream that we are already familiar with; that is, it supports the use of either RabbitMQ or Kafka as the messaging system for transporting notifications out of the box.

The following diagram illustrates the cooperation between Spring Cloud Config, its clients, a Git repository, and Spring Cloud Bus:

Figure 8.3: How Spring Cloud Config fits into the microservice landscape

The diagram shows the following:

  1. When the microservices start up, they ask the configuration server for its configuration.
  2. The configuration server gets the configuration from, in this case, a Git repository.
  3. Optionally, the Git repository can be configured to send notifications to the configuration server when Git commits are pushed to the Git repository.
  4. The configuration server will publish change events using Spring Cloud Bus. The microservices that are affected by the change will react and retrieve its updated configuration from the configuration server.

Finally, Spring Cloud Config also supports the encryption of sensitive information in the configuration, such as credentials.

We will learn about Spring Cloud Config in Chapter 12, Centralized Configuration.

With Spring Cloud Config introduced, let's see how Spring Cloud can help make microservices more resilient to failures that happen from time to time in a system landscape.

Using Resilience4j for improved resilience

In a fairly large-scaled system landscape of cooperating microservices, we must assume that there is something going wrong all of the time. Failures must be seen as a normal state, and the system landscape must be designed to handle it!

Initially, Spring Cloud came with Netflix Hystrix, a well-proven circuit breaker. But as already mentioned above, since the Spring Cloud Greenwich release, it is recommended to replace Netflix Hystrix with Resilience4j. Resilience4j is an open source-based fault tolerance library. It comes with a larger range of fault tolerance mechanisms compared to Netflix Hystrix:

  • Circuit breaker is used to prevent a chain of failure reaction if a remote service stops responding.
  • Rate limiter is used to limit the number of requests to a service during a specified time period.
  • Bulkhead is used to limit the number of concurrent requests to a service.
  • Retries are used to handle random errors that might happen from time to time.
  • Time limiter is used to avoid waiting too long for a response from a slow or not responding service.

You can discover more about Resilience4j at https://github.com/resilience4j/resilience4j.

In Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j, we will focus on the circuit breaker in Resilience4j. It follows the classic design of a circuit breaker, as illustrated in the following state diagram:

Figure 8.4: Circuit breaker state diagram

Let's take a look at the state diagram in more detail:

  1. A circuit breaker starts as Closed, allowing requests to be processed.
  2. As long as the requests are processed successfully, it stays in the Closed state.
  3. If failures start to happen, a counter starts to count up.
  4. If a threshold of failures is reached within a specified period of time, the circuit breaker will trip, that is, go to the Open state, not allowing further requests to be processed. Both the threshold of failures and the period of time are configurable.
  5. Instead, a request will Fast Fail, meaning it will return immediately with an exception.
  6. After a configurable period of time, the circuit breaker will enter a Half Open state and allow one request to go through, as a probe, to see whether the failure has been resolved.
  7. If the probe request fails, the circuit breaker goes back to the Open state.
  8. If the probe request succeeds, the circuit breaker goes to the initial Closed state, allowing new requests to be processed.

Sample usage of the circuit breaker in Resilience4j

Let's assume we have a REST service, called myService, that is protected by a circuit breaker using Resilience4j.

If the service starts to produce internal errors, for example, because it can't reach a service it depends on, we might get a response from the service such as 500 Internal Server Error. After a number of configurable attempts, the circuit will open and we will get a fast failure that returns an error message such as CircuitBreaker 'myService' is open. When the error is resolved and we make a new attempt (after the configurable wait time), the circuit breaker will allow a new attempt as a probe. If the call succeeds, the circuit breaker will be closed again; that is, operating normally.

When using Resilience4j together with Spring Boot, we will be able to monitor the state of the circuit breakers in a microservice using its Spring Boot Actuator health endpoint. We can, for example, use curl to see the state of the circuit breaker, myService:

curl $HOST:$PORT/actuator/health -s | jq .components.circuitBreakers

If it operates normally, that is, the circuit is closed, it will respond with something such as the following:

Figure 8.5: Closed circuit response

If something is wrong and the circuit is open, it will respond with something such as the following:

Figure 8.6: Open circuit response

With Resilience4j introduced, we have seen an example of how the circuit breaker can be used to handle errors for a REST client. Let's wrap up this chapter with an introduction to how Spring Cloud can be used for distributed tracing.

Using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin for distributed tracing

To understand what is going on in a distributed system such as a system landscape of cooperating microservices, it is crucial to be able to track and visualize how requests and messages flow between microservices when processing an external call to the system landscape.

Refer to Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Distributed tracing section, for more information on this subject.

Spring Cloud comes with Spring Cloud Sleuth, which can mark requests and messages/events that are part of the same processing flow with a common correlation ID.

Spring Cloud Sleuth can also decorate log records with correlation IDs to make it easier to track log records from different microservices that come from the same processing flow. Zipkin is a distributed tracing system (http://zipkin.io) that Spring Cloud Sleuth can send tracing data to for storage and visualization. Later on, in Chapter 19, Centralized Logging with the EFK Stack, we will learn how to find and visualize log records from one and the same processing flow using the correlation ID.

The infrastructure for handling distributed tracing information in Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin is based on Google Dapper (https://ai.google/research/pubs/pub36356). In Dapper, the tracing information from a complete workflow is called a trace tree, and subparts of the tree, such as the basic units of work, are called spans. Spans can, in turn, consist of sub-spans, which form the trace tree. A correlation ID is called TraceId, and a span is identified by its own unique SpanId, along with the TraceId of the trace tree it belongs to.

A short history lesson regarding the evolution of standards (or at least commons efforts on establishing open de facto standards) for implementing distributed tracing:

Google published the paper on Dapper back in 2010, after using it internally since 2005.

In 2016, the OpenTracing project joined CNCF. OpenTracing is heavily influenced by Dapper and provides vendor-neutral APIs and language-specific libraries for instrumenting distributed tracing.

In 2019, the OpenTracing project merged with the OpenCensus project, forming a new CNCF project, OpenTelemetry. The OpenCensus project delivers a set of libraries for collecting metrics and distributed traces.

Suggested URLs for further reading:

For the scope of this book, we will use the direct integration between Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin.

Spring Cloud Sleuth can send requests to Zipkin either synchronously over HTTP or asynchronously using either RabbitMQ or Kafka. To avoid creating runtime dependencies on the Zipkin server from our microservices, we prefer sending trace information to Zipkin asynchronously using either RabbitMQ or Kafka. This is illustrated by the following diagram:

Figure 8.7: Sending trace information to Zipkin asynchronously

In Chapter 14, Understanding Distributed Tracing, we will see how we can use Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin to trace the processing that goes on in our microservice landscape. The following is a screenshot from the Zipkin UI, which visualizes the trace tree that was created as a result of processing the creation of an aggregated product:

Figure 8.8: Trace tree in Zipkin

From the preceding screenshot, we can see that an HTTP POST request is sent to the product-composite service through the gateway (our edge server) and it responds by publishing create events to the topics for products, recommendations, and reviews. These events are consumed by the three core microservices in parallel and asynchronously, meaning that the product-composite service does not wait for the core microservices to complete their work. The data in the create events are stored in each microservice's database. A number of very short-lived spans named unknown are also shown in the preceding screenshot. They represent the interaction with the message broker, either publishing or consuming an event.

With Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin for distributed tracing being introduced, we have seen an example of distributed tracing of the processing of an external synchronous HTTP request that includes asynchronous passing of events between the involved microservices.

Summary

In this chapter, we have seen how Spring Cloud has evolved from being rather Netflix OSS-centric to having a much larger scope as of today. We also introduced how components from the latest release of Spring Cloud Greenwich can be used to implement some of the design patterns we described in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Design patterns for microservices section. These design patterns are required to make a landscape of cooperating microservices production ready.

Head over to the next chapter to see how we can implement service discovery using Netflix Eureka and Spring Cloud LoadBalancer!

Questions

  1. What is the purpose of Netflix Eureka?
  2. What are the main features of Spring Cloud Gateway?
  3. What backends are supported by Spring Cloud Config?
  4. What are the capabilities that Resilience4j provides?
  5. What are the concepts of trace tree and span used for in distributed tracing, and what is the paper called that defined them?
 

Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka

In this chapter, we will learn how to use Netflix Eureka as a discovery service for microservices based on Spring Boot. To allow our microservices to communicate with Netflix Eureka, we will use the Spring Cloud module for Netflix Eureka clients. Before we delve into the details, we will elaborate on why a discovery service is needed and why a DNS server isn't sufficient.

The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • Introduction to service discovery
  • Setting up a Netflix Eureka server
  • Connecting microservices to a Netflix Eureka server
  • Setting up the configuration for development use
  • Trying out Netflix Eureka as a discovery service

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter09.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to add Netflix Eureka as a discovery service to the microservices landscape, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, that is, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter07 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter09.

Introducing service discovery

Service discovery is probably the most important support function required to make a landscape of cooperating microservices production-ready. Netflix Eureka was the first discovery server supported by Spring Cloud.

We are strictly speaking about a service for service discovery, but instead of referring to it as a service discovery service, it will simply be referred to as a discovery service. When referring to an actual implementation of service discovery, like Netflix Eureka, the term discovery server will be used.

We will see how easy it is to register microservices with Netflix Eureka when using Spring Cloud. We will also learn how a client can use Spring Cloud LoadBalancer to send HTTP requests to one of the instances registered in Netflix Eureka. Finally, we will try scaling the microservices up and down, together with running some disruptive tests to see how Netflix Eureka can handle different types of fault scenarios.

Before we jump into the implementation details, we will look at the following topics:

  • The problem with DNS-based service discovery
  • Challenges with service discovery
  • Service discovery with Netflix Eureka in Spring Cloud

The problem with DNS-based service discovery

Why can't we simply start new instances of a microservice and rely on round-robin DNS?

The idea behind round-robin DNS is that each instance of a microservice registers its IP address under the same name in a DNS server. When a client asks for IP addresses for the DNS name, the DNS server will return a list of IP addresses for the registered instances. The client can use this list of IP addresses to send requests to the microservice instances in a round-robin fashion, using the IP addresses one after another.

Let's try it out and see what happens! Follow these steps:

  1. Assuming that you have followed the instructions from Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices, start the system landscape and insert some test data with the following command:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter07
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    
  2. Scale up the review microservice to two instances:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=2
    
  3. Ask the composite product service for the IP addresses it finds for the review microservice:
    docker-compose exec product-composite getent hosts review
    

    Expect an answer like the following:

    Figure 9.1: Review microservice IP addresses

    Great, the composite product service sees two IP addresses – in my case, 172.19.0.8 and 172.19.0.9 – one for each instance of the review microservice!

  4. If you want to, you can verify that these are the correct IP addresses by using the following commands. The commands ask each instance of the review microservice for its IP address:
    docker-compose exec --index=1 review cat /etc/hosts
    docker-compose exec --index=2 review cat /etc/hosts
    

    The last line in the output from each command should contain one of the IP addresses, as shown in the preceding code. For example:

    Figure 9.2: IP address output

  5. Now, let's try out a couple of calls to the product-composite service and see whether it uses both instances of the review microservice:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses.rev
    

    Unfortunately, we will only get responses from one of the microservice instances, as in this example:

Figure 9.3: Response from one review instance only

That was disappointing!

Okay, so what is going on here?

A DNS client asks a DNS server to resolve a DNS name and receives a list of IP addresses. Next, the DNS client tries out the received IP addresses one by one until it finds one that works, in most cases the first one in the list. A DNS client typically holds on to a working IP address; it does not apply a round-robin approach per request. Added to this, neither a typical DNS server implementation nor the DNS protocol itself is well suited for handling volatile microservice instances that come and go all the time. Because of this, even though DNS-based round robin is appealing in theory, it is not very practical to use for service discovery of microservice instances.

Before we move on and learn how to handle service discovery in a better way, let's shut down the system landscape:

docker-compose down

Challenges with service discovery

So, we need something a bit more powerful than a plain DNS to keep track of available microservice instances!

We must take the following into consideration when we're keeping track of many small moving parts, that is, microservice instances:

  • New instances can start up at any point in time
  • Existing instances can stop responding and eventually crash at any point in time
  • Some of the failing instances might be okay after a while and should start to receive traffic again, while others will not and should be removed from the service registry
  • Some microservice instances might take some time to start up; that is, just because they can receive HTTP requests doesn't mean that traffic should be routed to them
  • Unintended network partitioning and other network-related errors can occur at any time

Building a robust and resilient discovery server is not an easy task, to say the least. Let's see how we can use Netflix Eureka to handle these challenges!

Service discovery with Netflix Eureka in Spring Cloud

Netflix Eureka implements client-side service discovery, meaning that the clients run software that talks to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, to get information about the available microservice instances. This is illustrated in the following diagram:

Figure 9.4: Discovery server diagram

The process is as follows:

  1. Whenever a microservice instance starts up – for example, the Review service – it registers itself to one of the Eureka servers.
  2. On a regular basis, each microservice instance sends a heartbeat message to the Eureka server, telling it that the microservice instance is okay and is ready to receive requests.
  3. Clients – for example, the Product Composite service – use a client library that regularly asks the Eureka service for information about available services.
  4. When the client needs to send a request to another microservice, it already has a list of available instances in its client library and can pick one of them without asking the discovery server. Typically, available instances are chosen in a round-robin fashion; that is, they are called one after another before the first one is called once more.

In Chapter 17, Implementing Kubernetes Features to Simplify the System Landscape, we will look at an alternative approach to providing a discovery service using a server-side service concept in Kubernetes.

Spring Cloud comes with an abstraction of how to communicate with a discovery service such as Netflix Eureka and provides an interface called DiscoveryClient. This can be used to interact with a discovery service to get information regarding available services and instances. Implementations of the DiscoveryClient interface are also capable of automatically registering a Spring Boot application with the discovery server.

Spring Boot can find implementations of the DiscoveryClient interface automatically during startup, so we only need to bring in a dependency on the corresponding implementation to connect to a discovery server. In the case of Netflix Eureka, the dependency that's used by our microservices is spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-client.

Spring Cloud also has DiscoveryClient implementations that support the use of either Apache ZooKeeper or HashiCorp Consul as a discovery server.

Spring Cloud also comes with an abstraction – the LoadBalancerClient interface – for clients that want to make requests through a load balancer to registered instances in the discovery service. The standard reactive HTTP client, WebClient, can be configured to use the LoadBalancerClient implementation. By adding the @LoadBalanced annotation to a @Bean declaration that returns a WebClient.Builder object, a LoadBalancerClient implementation will be injected into the Builder instance as an ExchangeFilterFunction. Later in this chapter, in the Connecting microservices to a Netflix Eureka server section, we will look at some source code examples of how this can be used.

In summary, Spring Cloud makes it very easy to use Netflix Eureka as a discovery service. With this introduction to service discovery, and its challenges, and how Netflix Eureka can be used together with Spring Cloud, we are ready to learn how to set up a Netflix Eureka server.

Setting up a Netflix Eureka server

In this section, we will learn how to set up a Netflix Eureka server for service discovery. Setting up a Netflix Eureka server using Spring Cloud is really easy – just follow these steps:

  1. Create a Spring Boot project using Spring Initializr, as described in Chapter 3, Creating a Set of Cooperating Microservices, in the Using Spring Initializr to generate skeleton code section.
  2. Add a dependency to spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-server.
  3. Add the @EnableEurekaServer annotation to the application class.
  4. Add a Dockerfile, similar to the Dockerfiles that are used for our microservices, with the exception that we export the default Eureka port, 8761, instead of the default port for our microservices, 8080.
  5. Add the Eureka server to our three Docker Compose files, that is, docker-compose.yml, docker-compose-partitions.yml, and docker-compose-kafka.yml, like this:
    eureka:
      build: spring-cloud/eureka-server
      mem_limit: 512m
      ports:
        - "8761:8761"
    
  6. Finally, add some configuration. Please see the Setting up configuration for development use section in this chapter, where we will go through the configuration for both the Eureka server and our microservices.

That's all it takes!

You can find the source code for the Eureka server in the $BOOK_HOME/Chapter09/spring-cloud/eureka-server folder.

Now we have set up a Netflix Eureka server for service discovery, we are ready to learn how to connect microservices to it.

Connecting microservices to a Netflix Eureka server

In this section, we will learn how to connect microservice instances to a Netflix Eureka server. We will learn both how microservices instances register themselves to the Eureka server during their startup and how clients can use the Eureka server to find the microservice instances they want to call.

To be able to register a microservice instance in the Eureka server, we need to do the following:

  1. Add a dependency to spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-client in the build file, build.gradle:
    Implementation 'org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-client'
    
  2. When running tests on a single microservice, we don't want to depend on having the Eureka server up and running. Therefore, we will disable the use of Netflix Eureka in all Spring Boot tests, that is, JUnit tests annotated with @SpringBootTest. This can be done by adding the eureka.client.enabled property and setting it to false in the annotation, like so:
    @SpringBootTest(webEnvironment=RANDOM_PORT, properties = {"eureka.client.enabled=false"})
    
  3. Finally, add some configuration. Please go to the Setting up configuration for development use section, where we will go through the configuration for both the Eureka server and our microservices.

There is one property in the configuration that is extra important: spring.application.name. It is used to give each microservice a virtual hostname, a name used by the Eureka service to identify each microservice. Eureka clients will use this virtual hostname in the URLs that are used to make HTTP calls to the microservice, as we will see as we proceed.

To be able to look up available microservices instances through the Eureka server in the product-composite microservice, we also need to do the following:

  1. Add a Spring bean in the main application class, ProductCompositeServiceApplication, that creates a load balancer-aware WebClient-builder:
    @Bean
    @LoadBalanced
    public WebClient.Builder loadBalancedWebClientBuilder() {
        return WebClient.builder();
    }
    

    For more information on how to use a WebClient instance as a load balancer client, see https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-commons/docs/current/reference/html/#webclinet-loadbalancer-client.

  2. The WebClient-builder bean can be used by the integration class, ProductCompositeIntegration, by injecting it into the constructor:
    private WebClient webClient;
    
    @Autowired
    public ProductCompositeIntegration(
      WebClient.Builder webClientBuilder, 
      ...
    ) {
      this.webClient = webClientBuilder.build();
      ...
    }
    

    The constructor uses the injected builder to create the webClient.

    Once a WebClient is built, it is immutable. This means that it can be reused by concurrent requests without risking them stepping on each other's toes.

  3. We can now get rid of our hardcoded configuration of available microservices in application.yml. It looks like this:
    app:
      product-service:
        host: localhost
        port: 7001
      recommendation-service:
        host: localhost
        port: 7002
      review-service:
        host: localhost
        port: 7003
    
  4. The corresponding code in the integration class, ProductCompositeIntegration, that handled the hardcoded configuration is simplified and replaced by a declaration of the base URLs to the APIs of the core microservices. This is shown in the following code:
    private static final String PRODUCT_SERVICE_URL = "http://product";
    private static final String RECOMMENDATION_SERVICE_URL = "http://recommendation";
    private static final String REVIEW_SERVICE_URL = "http://review";
    

    The hostnames in the preceding URLs are not actual DNS names. Instead, they are the virtual hostnames that are used by the microservices when they register themselves to the Eureka server, in other words, the values of the spring.application.name property.

Now we've seen how to connect microservice instances to a Netflix Eureka server, we can move on and learn how to configure the Eureka server and the microservice instances that connect to it.

Setting up the configuration for development use

Now, it's time for the trickiest part of setting up Netflix Eureka as a discovery service: setting up a working configuration for both the Eureka server and its clients, our microservice instances.

Netflix Eureka is a highly configurable discovery server that can be set up for a number of different use cases, and it provides robust, resilient, and fault-tolerant runtime characteristics. One downside of this flexibility and robustness is that it has an almost overwhelming number of configuration options. Fortunately, Netflix Eureka comes with good default values for most of the configurable parameters – at least when it comes to using them in a production environment.

When it comes to using Netflix Eureka during development, the default values cause long startup times. For example, it can take a long time for a client to make an initial successful call to a microservices instance that is registered in the Eureka server.

Up to two minutes of wait time can be experienced when using the default configuration values. This wait time is added to the time it takes for the Eureka service and the microservices to start up. The reason for this wait time is that the involved processes need to synchronize registration information with each other. The microservices instances need to register with the Eureka server, and the client needs to gather information from the Eureka server. This communication is mainly based on heartbeats, which happen every 30 seconds by default. A couple of caches are also involved, which slows down the propagation of updates.

We will use a configuration that minimizes this wait time, which is useful during development. For use in production environments, the default values should be used as a starting point!

We will only use one Netflix Eureka server instance, which is okay in a development environment. In a production environment, you should always use two or more instances to ensure high availability for the Netflix Eureka server.

Let's start to learn what types of configuration parameters we need to know about.

Eureka configuration parameters

The configuration parameters for Eureka are divided into three groups:

  • Parameters for the Eureka server, prefixed with eureka.server.
  • Parameters for Eureka clients, prefixed with eureka.client. This is for clients who want to communicate with a Eureka server.
  • Parameters for Eureka instances, prefixed with eureka.instance. This is for the microservices instances that want to register themselves in the Eureka server.

Some of the available parameters are described in the Spring Cloud Netflix documentation: https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-netflix/docs/current/reference/html/.

For an extensive list of available parameters, I recommend reading the source code:

  • For Eureka server parameters, look at the org.springframework.cloud.netflix.eureka.server.EurekaServerConfigBean class for default values and the com.netflix.eureka.EurekaServerConfig interface for the relevant documentation
  • For Eureka client parameters, look at the org.springframework.cloud.netflix.eureka.EurekaClientConfigBean class for the default values and documentation
  • For Eureka instance parameters, look at the org.springframework.cloud.netflix.eureka.EurekaInstanceConfigBean class for default values and documentation

Let's start to learn about configuration parameters for the Eureka server.

Configuring the Eureka server

To configure the Eureka server for use in a development environment, the following configuration can be used:

server:
  port: 8761

eureka:
  instance:
    hostname: localhost
  client:
    registerWithEureka: false
    fetchRegistry: false
    serviceUrl:
      defaultZone: http://${eureka.instance.hostname}:${server.port}/eureka/
 
  server:
    waitTimeInMsWhenSyncEmpty: 0
    response-cache-update-interval-ms: 5000

The first part of the configuration, for a Eureka instance and client, is a standard configuration for a standalone Eureka server. For details, see the Spring Cloud documentation that we referred to previously. The last two parameters used for the Eureka server, waitTimeInMsWhenSyncEmpty and response-cache-update-interval-ms, are used to minimize the startup time.

With the Eureka server configured, we are ready to see how clients to the Eureka server, that is, the microservice instances, can be configured.

Configuring clients to the Eureka server

To be able to connect to the Eureka server, the microservices have the following configuration:

eureka:
  client:
    serviceUrl:
      defaultZone: http://localhost:8761/eureka/
    initialInstanceInfoReplicationIntervalSeconds: 5
    registryFetchIntervalSeconds: 5
  instance:
    leaseRenewalIntervalInSeconds: 5
    leaseExpirationDurationInSeconds: 5

---
spring.config.activate.on-profile: docker

eureka.client.serviceUrl.defaultZone: http://eureka:8761/eureka/

The eureka.client.serviceUrl.defaultZone parameter is used to find the Eureka server, using the hostname localhost when running without Docker and the hostname eureka when running as containers in Docker. The other parameters are used to minimize the startup time and the time it takes to deregister a microservice instance that is stopped.

Now, we have everything in place that's required to actually try out the discovery service using the Netflix Eureka server together with our microservices.

Trying out the discovery service

With all of the details in place, we are ready to try out Netflix Eureka:

  1. First, build the Docker images with the following commands:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter09
    ./gradlew build && docker-compose build
    
  2. Next, start the system landscape and run the usual tests with the following command:
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    

    Expect output similar to what we have seen in previous chapters:

Figure 9.5: Successful test output

With the system landscape up and running, we can start by testing how to scale up the number of instances for one of the microservices.

Scaling up

Run the following commands to try out scaling up a service:

  1. Launch two extra review microservice instances:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=3
    

    With the preceding command, we ask Docker Compose to run three instances of the review service. Since one instance is already running, two new instances will be started up.

  2. Once the new instances are up and running, browse to http://localhost:8761/ and expect something like the following:

    Figure 9.6: Viewing instances registered with Eureka

    Verify that you can see three review instances in the Netflix Eureka web UI, as shown in the preceding screenshot.

  3. One way of knowing when the new instances are up and running is to run this command:
    docker-compose logs review | grep Started 
    

    Expect output that looks as follows:

    Figure 9.7: New review instances

  4. We can also use a REST API that the Eureka service exposes. To get a list of instance IDs, we can issue a curl command, like this:
    curl -H "accept:application/json" localhost:8761/eureka/apps -s | jq -r .applications.application[].instance[].instanceId
    

    Expect a response that looks similar to the following:

    Figure 9.8: List of microservice instance IDs

  5. If you look into the test script, test-em-all.bash, you will find new tests that verify that we can reach Eureka's REST API and that it reports 4 instances:
    # Verify access to Eureka and that all four microservices are # registered in Eureka
    assertCurl 200 "curl -H "accept:application/json" $HOST:8761/eureka/apps -s"
    assertEqual 4 $(echo $RESPONSE | jq ".applications.application | length")
    
  6. Now that we have all of the instances up and running, let's try out the client-side load balancer by making some requests and focusing on the address of the review service in the responses, as follows:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses.rev
    

    Expect responses similar to the following:

    Figure 9.9: Review service addresses

    Note that the address of the review service changes in each response; the load balancer uses round-robin logic to call the available review instances, one at a time!

  7. We can also take a look into the review instance's log records with the following command:
    docker-compose logs review | grep getReviews
    

    You will see output that looks similar to the following:

Figure 9.10: Review instance log records

In the preceding output, we can see how the three review microservice instances, review_1, review_2, and review_3, in turn, have responded to the requests.

We can also try to scale down the instances, which we will do next.

Scaling down

Let's also see what happens if we lose one instance of the review microservice. Run the following commands:

  1. We can simulate one instance stopping unexpectedly by running the following command:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=2
    
  2. After the shutdown of the review instance, there is a short time period during which calls to the API might fail. This is caused by the time it takes for information regarding the lost instance to propagate to the client, the product-composite service. During this time frame, the client-side load balancer might choose the instance that no longer exists. To prevent this from occurring, resilience mechanisms such as timeouts and retries can be used. In Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j, we will see how this can be applied. For now, let's specify a timeout on our curl command, using the -m 2 option to specify that we will wait no longer than 2 seconds for a response:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -m 2
    

    If a timeout occurs, that is, the client-side load balancer tries to call an instance that no longer exists, the following response is expected from curl:

    Figure 9.11: Response from curl if a timeout occurs

  3. Besides that, we should expect normal responses from the two remaining instances; that is, the serviceAddresses.rev field should contain the addresses of the two instances, as in the following:

Figure 9.12: Normal responses from remaining instances

In the preceding sample output, we can see that two different container names and IP addresses are reported. This means that the requests have been served by the two remaining microservice instances.

After trying out the scaling down of microservice instances, we can try out something that is a bit more disruptive: stopping the Eureka server and seeing what happens when the discovery server is temporarily unavailable.

Disruptive tests with the Eureka server

Let's bring some disorder to our Eureka server and see how the system landscape manages it!

To start with, what happens if we crash the Eureka server?

As long as clients have read the information regarding available microservice instances from the Eureka server before it is stopped, the clients will be fine since they cache the information locally. However, new instances will not be made available to clients, and they will not be notified if any running instances are terminated. So, calls to instances that are no longer running will cause failures.

Let's try this out!

Stopping the Eureka server

To simulate a Eureka server crash, follow these steps:

  1. First, stop the Eureka server and keep the two review instances up and running:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=2 --scale eureka=0
    
  2. Try a couple of calls to the API and extract the service address of the review service:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses.rev
    
  3. The response will – just like before we stopped the Eureka server – contain the addresses of the two review instances, like so:

Figure 9.13: Response with two review instance addresses

This shows that the client can make calls to existing instances, even though the Eureka server is no longer running.

Stopping a review instance

To further investigate what the effects are of a crashed Eureka server, let's also simulate the crash of one of the remaining review microservice instances:

  1. Terminate one of the two review instances with the following command:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=1 --scale eureka=0
    

    The client, that is, the product-composite service, will not be notified that one of the review instances has disappeared since no Eureka server is running. Due to this, it still thinks that there are two instances up and running. Every second call to the client will cause it to call a review instance that no longer exists, resulting in the response from the client not containing any information from the review service. The service address of the review service will be empty.

  2. Try out the same curl command as before to verify that the service address of the review service will be empty every second time:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses.rev
    

    This can be prevented, as described previously, by using resilience mechanisms such as timeouts and retries.

Starting up an extra instance of the product service

As a final test of the effects of a crashed Eureka server, let's see what happens if we start up a new instance of the product microservice. Perform the following steps:

  1. Let's try starting a new instance of the product service:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=1 --scale eureka=0 --scale product=2
    
  2. Call the API a couple of times and extract the address of the product service with the following command:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses.pro
    

    Since no Eureka server is running, the client will not be notified of the new product instance, and so all calls will go to the first instance, as in the following example:

Figure 9.14: Address of the first product instance only

We have seen some of the most important aspects of not having a Netflix Eureka server up and running. Let's conclude the section on disruptive tests by starting up the Netflix Eureka server again and seeing how the system landscape handles self-healing, that is, resilience.

Starting up the Eureka server again

In this section, we will wrap up the disruptive tests by starting up the Eureka server again. We will also verify that the system landscape self-heals, which means the new instance of the product microservice gets registered with the Netflix Eureka server and the client gets updated by the Eureka server. Perform the following steps:

  1. Start the Eureka server with the following command:
    docker-compose up -d --scale review=1 --scale eureka=1 --scale product=2
    
  2. Make the following call a couple of times to extract the addresses of the product and the review service:
    curl localhost:8080/product-composite/1 -s | jq -r .serviceAddresses
    

    Verify that the following happens:

    • All calls go to the remaining review instance, demonstrating that the client has detected that the second review instance is gone
    • Calls to the product service are load-balanced over the two product instances, demonstrating the client has detected that there are two product instances available

    The response should contain the same address for the review instance and two different addresses for the two product instances, as shown in the following two examples:

    Figure 9.15: Product and review addresses

    This is the second response:

    Figure 9.16: Product and review addresses

    The IP addresses 192.168.128.3 and 192.168.128.7 belong to the two product instances. 192.168.128.9 is the IP address of the single remaining review instance.

    To summarize, the Eureka server provides a very robust and resilient implementation of a discovery service. If even higher availability is desired, multiple Eureka servers can be launched and configured to communicate with each other. Details on how to set up multiple Eureka servers can be found in the Spring Cloud documentation: https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-netflix/docs/current/reference/html/#spring-cloud-eureka-server-peer-awareness.

  3. Finally, shut down the system landscape with this command:
    docker-compose down
    

This completes the tests of the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, where we have learned how to scale up and scale down microservice instances and what happens if a Netflix Eureka server crashes and later on comes back online.

Summary

In this chapter, we learned how to use Netflix Eureka for service discovery. First, we looked into the shortcomings of a simple DNS-based service discovery solution and the challenges that a robust and resilient service discovery solution must be able to handle.

Netflix Eureka is a very capable service discovery solution that provides robust, resilient, and fault-tolerant runtime characteristics. However, it can be challenging to configure correctly, especially for a smooth developer experience. With Spring Cloud, it becomes easy to set up a Netflix Eureka server and adapt Spring Boot-based microservices, both so that they can register themselves to Eureka during startup and, when acting as a client to other microservices, keep track of available microservice instances.

With a discovery server in place, it's time to see how we can handle external traffic using Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server. Head over to the next chapter to find out how!

Questions

  1. What is required to turn a Spring Boot application created with Spring Initializr into a fully fledged Netflix Eureka server?
  2. What is required to make a Spring Boot-based microservice register itself automatically as a startup with Netflix Eureka?
  3. What is required to make it possible for a Spring Boot-based microservice to call another microservice that is registered in a Netflix Eureka server?
  4. Let's assume that you have a Netflix Eureka server up and running, along with one instance of microservice A and two instances of microservice B. All microservice instances register themselves with the Netflix Eureka server. Microservice A makes HTTP requests to microservice B based on the information it gets from the Eureka server. What will happen if, in turn, the following happens:
    • The Netflix Eureka server crashes
    • One of the instances of microservice B crashes
    • A new instance of microservice A starts up
    • A new instance of microservice B starts up
    • The Netflix Eureka server starts up again
 

Using Spring Cloud Gateway to Hide Microservices behind an Edge Server

In this chapter, we will learn how to use Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server, to control what APIs are exposed from our microservices-based system landscape. We will see how microservices that have public APIs are made accessible from the outside through the edge server, while microservices that have private APIs are only accessible from the inside of the microservice landscape. In our system landscape, this means that the product composite service and the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, will be exposed through the edge server. The three core services, product, recommendation, and review, will be hidden from the outside.

The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • Adding an edge server to our system landscape
  • Setting up Spring Cloud Gateway, including configuring routing rules
  • Trying out the edge server

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install the tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book, see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to add Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server to the microservices landscape, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter09 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10.

Adding an edge server to our system landscape

In this section, we will see how the edge server is added to the system landscape and how it affects the way external clients access the public APIs that the microservices expose. All incoming requests will now be routed through the edge server, as illustrated by the following diagram:

Figure 10.1: Adding an edge server

As we can see from the preceding diagram, external clients send all their requests to the edge server. The edge server can route the incoming requests based on the URL path. For example, requests with a URL that starts with /product-composite/ are routed to the product composite microservice, and a request with a URL that starts with /eureka/ is routed to the discovery server based on Netflix Eureka.

To make the discovery service work with Netflix Eureka, we don't need to expose it through the edge server. The internal services will communicate directly with Netflix Eureka. The reasons for exposing it are to make its web page and API accessible to an operator that needs to check the status of Netflix Eureka, and to see what instances are currently registered in the discovery service.

In Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka, we exposed both the product-composite service and the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, to the outside. When we introduce the edge server in this chapter, this will no longer be the case. This is implemented by removing the following port declarations for the two services in the Docker Compose files:

  product-composite:
    build: microservices/product-composite-service
    ports:
      - "8080:8080"

  eureka:
    build: spring-cloud/eureka-server
    ports:
      - "8761:8761"

With the edge server introduced, we will learn how to set up an edge server based on Spring Cloud Gateway in the next section.

Setting up Spring Cloud Gateway

Setting up Spring Cloud Gateway as an edge server is straightforward and can be done with the following steps:

  1. Create a Spring Boot project using Spring Initializr as described in Chapter 3, Creating a Set of Cooperating Microservices – refer to the Using Spring Initializr to generate skeleton code section.
  2. Add a dependency on spring-cloud-starter-gateway.
  3. To be able to locate microservice instances through Netflix Eureka, also add the spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-client dependency.
  4. Add the edge server project to the common build file, settings.gradle:
    include ':spring-cloud:gateway'
    
  5. Add a Dockerfile with the same content as for the microservices; see Dockerfile content in the folder $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10/microservices.
  6. Add the edge server to our three Docker Compose files:
    gateway:
      environment:
        - SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=docker
      build: spring-cloud/gateway
      mem_limit: 512m
      ports:
        - "8080:8080"
    

    From the preceding code, we can see that the edge server exposes port 8080 to the outside of the Docker engine. To control how much memory is required, a memory limit of 512 MB is applied to the edge server, in the same way as we have done for the other microservices.

  7. Since the edge server will handle all incoming traffic, we will move the composite health check from the product composite service to the edge server. This is described in the Adding a composite health check section next.
  8. Add configuration for routing rules and more. Since there is a lot to configure, it is handled in a separate section below, Configuring a Spring Cloud Gateway.

You can find the source code for the Spring Cloud Gateway in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10/spring-cloud/gateway.

Adding a composite health check

With an edge server in place, external health check requests also have to go through the edge server. Therefore, the composite health check that checks the status of all microservices has been moved from the product-composite service to the edge server. See Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices – refer to the Adding a health API section for implementation details for the composite health check.

The following has been added to the edge server:

  1. The HealthCheckConfiguration class has been added, which declares the reactive health contributor:
      @Bean
      ReactiveHealthContributor healthcheckMicroservices() {
    
        final Map<String, ReactiveHealthIndicator> registry = 
          new LinkedHashMap<>();
    
        registry.put("product",           () -> 
          getHealth("http://product"));
        registry.put("recommendation",    () -> 
          getHealth("http://recommendation"));
        registry.put("review",            () -> 
          getHealth("http://review"));
        registry.put("product-composite", () -> 
          getHealth("http://product-composite"));
    
        return CompositeReactiveHealthContributor.fromMap(registry);
      }
    
      private Mono<Health> getHealth(String baseUrl) {
        String url = baseUrl + "/actuator/health";
        LOG.debug("Setting up a call to the Health API on URL: {}", 
          url);
        return webClient.get().uri(url).retrieve()
          .bodyToMono(String.class)
          .map(s -> new Health.Builder().up().build())
          .onErrorResume(ex -> 
          Mono.just(new Health.Builder().down(ex).build()))
          .log(LOG.getName(), FINE);
      }
    

    From the preceding code, we can see that a health check for the product-composite service has been added, instead of the health check used in Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices!

  2. The main application class, GatewayApplication, declares a WebClient.Builder bean to be used by the implementation of the health indicator as follows:
      @Bean
      @LoadBalanced
      public WebClient.Builder loadBalancedWebClientBuilder() {
        return WebClient.builder();
      }
    

    From the preceding source code, we see that WebClient.builder is annotated with @LoadBalanced, which makes it aware of microservice instances registered in the discovery server, Netflix Eureka. Refer to the Service discovery with Netflix Eureka in Spring Cloud section in Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka, for details.

With a composite health check in place for the edge server, we are ready to look at the configuration that needs to be set up for the Spring Cloud Gateway.

Configuring a Spring Cloud Gateway

When it comes to configuring a Spring Cloud Gateway, the most important thing is setting up the routing rules. We also need to set up a few other things in the configuration:

  1. Since Spring Cloud Gateway will use Netflix Eureka to find the microservices it will route traffic to, it must be configured as a Eureka client in the same way as described in Chapter 9, Adding Service Discovery Using Netflix Eureka – refer to the Configuring clients to the Eureka server section.
  2. Configure Spring Boot Actuator for development usage as described in Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices – refer to the Adding a health API section:
    management.endpoint.health.show-details: "ALWAYS"
    management.endpoints.web.exposure.include: "*"
    
  3. Configure log levels so that we can see log messages from interesting parts of the internal processing in the Spring Cloud Gateway, for example, how it decides where to route incoming requests to:
    logging:
      level:
        root: INFO
        org.springframework.cloud.gateway.route.
            RouteDefinitionRouteLocator: INFO
        org.springframework.cloud.gateway: TRACE
    

For the full source code, refer to the configuration file, src/main/resources/application.yml.

Routing rules

Setting up routing rules can be done in two ways: programmatically, using a Java DSL, or by configuration. Using a Java DSL to set up routing rules programmatically can be useful in cases where the rules are stored in external storage, such as a database, or are given at runtime, for example, via a RESTful API or a message sent to the gateway. In more static use cases, I find it more convenient to declare the routes in the configuration file, src/main/resources/application.yml. Separating the routing rules from the Java code makes it possible to update the routing rules without having to deploy a new version of the microservice.

A route is defined by the following:

  1. Predicates, which select a route based on information in the incoming HTTP request
  2. Filters, which can modify both the request and/or the response
  3. A destination URI, which describes where to send a request
  4. An ID, that is, the name of the route

For a full list of available predicates and filters, refer to the reference documentation: https://cloud.spring.io/spring-cloud-gateway/single/spring-cloud-gateway.html.

Routing requests to the product-composite API

If we, for example, want to route incoming requests where the URL path starts with /product-composite/ to our product-composite service, we can specify a routing rule like this:

spring.cloud.gateway.routes:
- id: product-composite
  uri: lb://product-composite
  predicates:
  - Path=/product-composite/**

Some points to note from the preceding code:

  • id: product-composite: The name of the route is product-composite.
  • uri: lb://product-composite: If the route is selected by its predicates, the request will be routed to the service that is named product-composite in the discovery service, Netflix Eureka. The protocol lb:// is used to direct Spring Cloud Gateway to use the client-side load balancer to look up the destination in the discovery service.
  • predicates: - Path=/product-composite/** is used to specify what requests this route should match. ** matches zero or more elements in the path.

To be able to route requests to the Swagger UI set up in Chapter 5, Adding an API Description Using OpenAPI, an extra route to the product-composite service is added:

- id: product-composite-swagger-ui
  uri: lb://product-composite
  predicates:
  - Path=/openapi/**

Requests sent to the edge server with a URI starting with /openapi/ will be directed to the product-composite service.

When the Swagger UI is presented behind an edge server, it must be able to present an OpenAPI specification of the API that contains the correct server URL – the URL of the edge server instead of the URL of the product-composite service itself. To enable the product-composite service to produce a correct server URL in the OpenAPI specification, the following configuration has been added to the product-composite service:

 server.forward-headers-strategy: framework

For details, see https://springdoc.org/index.html#how-can-i-deploy-springdoc-openapi-ui-behind-a-reverse-proxy.

To verify that the correct server URL is set in the OpenAPI specification, the following test has been added to the test script, test-em-all.bash:

  assertCurl 200 "curl -s  http://$HOST:$PORT/
    openapi/v3/api-docs"
  assertEqual "http://$HOST:$PORT" "$(echo $RESPONSE 
    | jq -r .servers[].url)"
Routing requests to the Eureka server's API and web page

Eureka exposes both an API and a web page for its clients. To provide a clean separation between the API and the web page in Eureka, we will set up routes as follows:

  • Requests sent to the edge server with the path starting with /eureka/api/ should be handled as a call to the Eureka API
  • Requests sent to the edge server with the path starting with /eureka/web/ should be handled as a call to the Eureka web page

API requests will be routed to http://${app.eureka-server}:8761/eureka. The routing rule for the Eureka API looks like this:

- id: eureka-api
  uri: http://${app.eureka-server}:8761
  predicates:
  - Path=/eureka/api/{segment}
  filters:
  - SetPath=/eureka/{segment}

The {segment} part in the Path value matches zero or more elements in the path and will be used to replace the {segment} part in the SetPath value.

Web page requests will be routed to http://${app.eureka-server}:8761. The web page will load several web resources, such as .js, .css, and .png files. These requests will be routed to http://${app.eureka-server}:8761/eureka. The routing rules for the Eureka web page look like this:

- id: eureka-web-start
  uri: http://${app.eureka-server}:8761
  predicates:
  - Path=/eureka/web
  filters:
  - SetPath=/

- id: eureka-web-other
  uri: http://${app.eureka-server}:8761
  predicates:
  - Path=/eureka/**

From the preceding configuration, we can take the following notes. The ${app.eureka-server} property is resolved by Spring's property mechanism depending on what Spring profile is activated:

  1. When running the services on the same host without using Docker, for example, for debugging purposes, the property will be translated to localhost using the default profile.
  2. When running the services as Docker containers, the Netflix Eureka server will run in a container with the DNS name eureka. Therefore, the property will be translated into eureka using the docker profile.

The relevant parts in the application.yml file that define this translation look like this:

app.eureka-server: localhost
---
spring.config.activate.on-profile: docker
app.eureka-server: eureka
Routing requests with predicates and filters

To learn a bit more about the routing capabilities in Spring Cloud Gateway, we will try out host-based routing, where Spring Cloud Gateway uses the hostname of the incoming request to determine where to route the request. We will use one of my favorite websites for testing HTTP codes: http://httpstat.us/.

A call to http://httpstat.us/${CODE} simply returns a response with the ${CODE} HTTP code and a response body also containing the HTTP code and a corresponding descriptive text. For example, see the following curl command:

curl http://httpstat.us/200 -i

This will return the HTTP code 200, and a response body with the text 200 OK.

Let's assume that we want to route calls to http://${hostname}:8080/headerrouting as follows:

  • Calls to the i.feel.lucky host should return 200 OK
  • Calls to the im.a.teapot host should return 418 I'm a teapot
  • Calls to all other hostnames should return 501 Not Implemented

To implement these routing rules in Spring Cloud Gateway, we can use the Host route predicate to select requests with specific hostnames, and the SetPath filter to set the desired HTTP code in the request path. This can be done as follows:

  1. To make calls to http://i.feel.lucky:8080/headerrouting return 200 OK, we can set up the following route:
    - id: host_route_200
      uri: http://httpstat.us
      predicates:
      - Host=i.feel.lucky:8080
      - Path=/headerrouting/**
      filters:
      - SetPath=/200
    
  2. To make calls to http://im.a.teapot:8080/headerrouting return 418 I'm a teapot, we can set up the following route:
    - id: host_route_418
      uri: http://httpstat.us
      predicates:
      - Host=im.a.teapot:8080
      - Path=/headerrouting/**
      filters:
      - SetPath=/418
    
  3. Finally, to make calls to all other hostnames return 501 Not Implemented, we can set up the following route:
    - id: host_route_501
      uri: http://httpstat.us
      predicates:
      - Path=/headerrouting/**
      filters:
      - SetPath=/501
    

Okay, that was quite a bit of configuration, so now let's try it out!

Trying out the edge server

To try out the edge server, we perform the following steps:

  1. First, build the Docker images with the following commands:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10
    ./gradlew clean build && docker-compose build
    
  2. Next, start the system landscape in Docker and run the usual tests with the following command:
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    
  3. Expect output similar to what we have seen in previous chapters:

    Figure 10.2: Output from test-em-all.bash

  4. From the log output, note the second to last test result, http://localhost:8080. That is the output from the test that verifies that the server URL in Swagger UI's OpenAPI specification is correctly rewritten to be the URL of the edge server.

With the system landscape including the edge server up and running, let's explore the following topics:

  • Examining what is exposed by the edge server outside of the system landscape running in the Docker engine
  • Trying out some of the most frequently used routing rules as follows:
    • Use URL-based routing to call our APIs through the edge server
    • Use URL-based routing to call the Swagger UI through the edge server
    • Use URL-based routing to call Netflix Eureka through the edge server, both using its API and web-based UI
    • Use header-based routing to see how we can route requests based on the hostname in the request

Examining what is exposed outside the Docker engine

To understand what the edge server exposes to the outside of the system landscape, perform the following steps:

  1. Use the docker-compose ps command to see which ports are exposed by our services:
    docker-compose ps gateway eureka product-composite product recommendation review
    
  2. As we can see in the following output, only the edge server (named gateway) exposes its port (8080) outside the Docker engine:

    Figure 10.3: Output from docker-compose ps

  3. If we want to see what routes the edge server has set up, we can use the /actuator/gateway/routes API. The response from this API is rather verbose. To limit the response to information we are interested in, we can apply a jq filter. In the following example, the id of the route and the uri the request will be routed to are selected:
    curl localhost:8080/actuator/gateway/routes -s | jq '.[] | {"\(.route_id)": "\(.uri)"}' | grep -v '{\|}'
    
  4. This command will respond with the following:

Figure 10.4: Spring Cloud Gateway routing rules

This gives us a good overview of the actual routes configured in the edge server. Now, let's try out the routes!

Trying out the routing rules

In this section, we will try out the edge server and the routes it exposes to the outside of the system landscape. Let's start by calling the product composite API and its Swagger UI. Next, we'll call the Eureka API and visit its web page. Finally, we'll conclude by testing the routes that are based on hostnames.

Calling the product composite API through the edge server

Let's perform the following steps to call the product composite API through the edge server:

  1. To be able to see what is going on in the edge server, we can follow its log output:
    docker-compose logs -f --tail=0 gateway
    
  2. Now, in a separate terminal window, make the call to the product composite API through the edge server:
    curl http://localhost:8080/product-composite/1
    
  3. Expect the normal type of response from the product composite API:

    Figure 10.5: Output from retrieving the composite product with Product ID 1

  4. We should be able to find the following information in the log output:

    Figure 10.6: Log output from the edge server

  5. From the log output, we can see the pattern matching based on the predicate we specified in the configuration, and we can see which microservice instance the edge server selected from the available instances in the discovery server – in this case, it forwards the request to http://b8013440aea0:8080/product-composite/1.

Calling the Swagger UI through the edge server

To verify that we can reach the Swagger UI introduced in Chapter 5, Adding an API Description Using OpenAPI, through the edge server, open the URL http://localhost:8080/openapi/swagger-ui.html in a web browser. The resulting Swagger UI page should look like this:

Figure 10.7: The Swagger UI through the edge server, gateway

Note the server URL: http://localhost:8080; this means that the product-composite API's own URL, http://product-service:8080/ has been replaced in the OpenAPI specification returned by the Swagger UI.

If you want to, you can proceed and actually try out the product-composite API in the Swagger UI as we did back in Chapter 5, Adding an API Description Using OpenAPI!

Calling Eureka through the edge server

To call Eureka through an edge server, perform the following steps:

  1. First, call the Eureka API through the edge server to see what instances are currently registered in the discovery server:
    curl -H "accept:application/json"\ 
    localhost:8080/eureka/api/apps -s | \
    jq -r .applications.application[].instance[].instanceId
    
  2. Expect a response along the lines of the following:

    Figure 10.8: Eureka listing the edge server, gateway, in REST call

    Note that the edge server (named gateway) is also present in the response.

  3. Next, open the Eureka web page in a web browser using the URL http://localhost:8080/eureka/web:

    Figure 10.9: Eureka listing the edge server, gateway, in the web UI

  4. From the preceding screenshot, we can see the Eureka web page reporting the same available instances as the API response in the previous step.

Routing based on the host header

Let's wrap up by testing the route configuration based on the hostname used in the requests!

Normally, the hostname in the request is set automatically in the Host header by the HTTP client. When testing the edge server locally, the hostname will be localhost – that is not so useful when testing hostname-based routing. But we can cheat by specifying another hostname in the Host header in the call to the API. Let's see how this can be done:

  1. To call for the i.feel.lucky hostname, use this code:
    curl http://localhost:8080/headerrouting -H "Host: i.feel.lucky:8080"
    
  2. Expect the response 200 OK.
  3. For the hostname im.a.teapot, use the following command:
    curl http://localhost:8080/headerrouting -H "Host: im.a.teapot:8080"
    
  4. Expect the response 418 I'm a teapot.
  5. Finally, if not specifying any Host header, use localhost as the Host header:
    curl http://localhost:8080/headerrouting
    
  6. Expect the response 501 Not Implemented.

We can also use i.feel.lucky and im.a.teapot as real hostnames in the requests if we add them to the file /etc/hosts and specify that they should be translated into the same IP address as localhost, that is, 127.0.0.1. Run the following command to add a row to the /etc/hosts file with the required information:

sudo bash -c "echo '127.0.0.1 i.feel.lucky im.a.teapot' >> /etc/hosts"

We can now perform the same routing based on the hostname, but without specifying the Host header. Try it out by running the following commands:

curl http://i.feel.lucky:8080/headerrouting
curl http://im.a.teapot:8080/headerrouting

Expect the same responses as previously, 200 OK and 418 I'm a teapot.

Wrap up the tests by shutting down the system landscape with the following command:

docker-compose down

Also, clean up the /etc/hosts file from the DNS name translation we added for the hostnames, i.feel.lucky and im.a.teapot. Edit the /etc/hosts file and remove the line we added:

127.0.0.1 i.feel.lucky im.a.teapot

These tests of the routing capabilities in the edge server end the chapter.

Summary

In this chapter, we have seen how Spring Cloud Gateway can be used as an edge server to control what services are allowed to be called from outside of the system landscape. Based on predicates, filters, and destination URIs, we can define routing rules in a very flexible way. If we want to, we can configure Spring Cloud Gateway to use a discovery service such as Netflix Eureka to look up the target microservice instances.

One important question still unanswered is how we prevent unauthorized access to the APIs exposed by the edge server and how we can prevent third parties from intercepting traffic.

In the next chapter, we will see how we can secure access to the edge server using standard security mechanisms such as HTTPS, OAuth, and OpenID Connect.

Questions

  1. What are the elements used to build a routing rule in Spring Cloud Gateway called?
  2. What are they used for?
  3. How can we instruct Spring Cloud Gateway to locate microservice instances through a discovery service such as Netflix Eureka?
  4. In a Docker environment, how can we ensure that external HTTP requests to the Docker engine can only reach the edge server?
  5. How do we change the routing rules so that the edge server accepts calls to the product-composite service on the http://$HOST:$PORT/api/product URL instead of the currently used http://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite?
 

Securing Access to APIs

In this chapter, we will see how we can secure access to the APIs and web pages exposed by the edge server introduced in the previous chapter. We will learn how to use HTTPS to protect against eavesdropping on external access to our APIs, and how to use OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect to authenticate and authorize users and client applications to access our APIs. Finally, we will use HTTP Basic authentication to secure access to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka.

The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • An introduction to the OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect standards
  • A general discussion on how to secure the system landscape
  • Protecting external communication with HTTPS
  • Securing access to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka
  • Adding a local authorization server to our system landscape
  • Authenticating and authorizing API access using OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect
  • Testing with the local authorization server
  • Testing with an external OpenID Connect provider, Auth0

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install the tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book, see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to secure access to the APIs in the microservice landscape, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 10, Using Spring Cloud Gateway to Hide Microservices behind an Edge Server. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter10 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11.

Introduction to OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect

Before introducing OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect, let's clarify what we mean by authentication and authorization. Authentication means identifying a user by validating credentials supplied by the user, such as a username and password. Authorization is about giving access to various parts of, in our case, an API to an authenticated user.

OAuth 2.0 is an open standard for authorization delegation, and OpenID Connect is an add-on to OAuth 2.0 that enables client applications to verify the identity of users based on the authentication performed by the authorization server. Let's look briefly at OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect separately to get an initial understanding of their purposes!

Introducing OAuth 2.0

OAuth 2.0 is a widely accepted open standard for authorization that enables a user to give consent for a third-party client application to access protected resources in the name of the user. Giving a third-party client application the right to act in the name of a user, for example, calling an API, is known as authorization delegation.

So, what does this mean?

Let's start by sorting out the concepts used:

  • Resource owner: The end user.
  • Client: The third-party client application, for example, a web app or a native mobile app, that wants to call some protected APIs in the name of the end user.
  • Resource server: The server that exposes the APIs that we want to protect.
  • Authorization server: The authorization server issues tokens to the client after the resource owner, that is, the end user, has been authenticated. The management of user information and the authentication of users are typically delegated, behind the scenes, to an Identity Provider (IdP).

A client is registered in the authorization server and is given a client ID and a client secret. The client secret must be protected by the client, like a password. A client also gets registered with a set of allowed redirect URIs that the authorization server will use after a user has been authenticated to send authorization codes and tokens that have been issued back to the client application.

The following is an example by way of illustration. Let's say that a user accesses a third-party client application and the client application wants to call a protected API to serve the user. To be allowed to access these APIs, the client application needs a way to tell the APIs that it is acting in the name of the user. To avoid solutions where the user must share their credentials with the client application for authentication, an access token is issued by an authorization server that gives the client application limited access to a selected set of APIs in the name of the user.

This means that the user never has to reveal their credentials to the client application. The user can also give consent to the client application to access specific APIs on behalf of the user. An access token represents a time-constrained set of access rights, expressed as scopes in OAuth 2.0 terms. A refresh token can also be issued to a client application by the authorization server. A refresh token can be used by the client application to obtain new access tokens without having to involve the user.

The OAuth 2.0 specification defines four authorization grant flows for issuing access tokens, explained as follows:

  • Authorization code grant flow: This is the safest, but also the most complex, grant flow. This grant flow requires that the user interacts with the authorization server using a web browser for authentication and giving consent to the client application, as illustrated by the following diagram:

    Figure 11.1: OAuth 2.0 – authorization code grant flow

    Here's what's going on in this diagram:

    1. The client application initiates the grant flow by sending the user to the authorization server in the web browser.
    2. The authorization server will authenticate the user and ask for the user's consent.
    3. The authorization server will redirect the user back to the client application with an authorization code. The authorization server will use a redirect URI specified by the client in step 1 to know where to send the authorization code. Since the authorization code is passed back to the client application using the web browser, that is, to an unsecure environment where malicious JavaScript code can potentially pick up the authorization code, it is only allowed to be used once and only during a short time period.
    4. To exchange the authorization code for an access token, the client application is expected to call the authorization server again. The client application must present its client ID and client secret together with the authorization code for the authorization server. Since the client secret is sensitive and must be protected, this call must be executed from server-side code.
    5. The authorization server issues an access token and sends it back to the client application. The authorization server can also, optionally, issue and return a refresh token.
    6. Using the access token, the client can send a request to the protected API exposed by the resource server.
    7. The resource server validates the access token and serves the request in the event of a successful validation. Steps 6 and 7 can be repeated as long as the access token is valid. When the lifetime of the access token has expired, the client can use their refresh token to acquire a new access token.
  • Implicit grant flow: This flow is also web browser-based but intended for client applications that are not able to keep a client secret protected, for example, a single-page web application. The web browser gets an access token back from the authorization server instead of an authorization code. Since the implicit grant flow is less secure than the authorization code grant flow, the client can't request a refresh token.
  • Resource owner password credentials grant flow: If a client application can't interact with a web browser, it can fall back on this grant flow. In this grant flow, the user must share their credentials with the client application and the client application will use these credentials to acquire an access token.
  • Client credentials grant flow: In the case where a client application needs to call an API unrelated to a specific user, it can use this grant flow to acquire an access token using its own client ID and client secret.

The full specification can be found here: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6749. There are also a number of additional specifications that detail various aspects of OAuth 2.0; for an overview, refer to https://www.oauth.com/oauth2-servers/map-oauth-2-0-specs/. One additional specification that is worth some extra attention is RFC 7636 – Proof Key for Code Exchange by OAuth Public Clients (PKCE), https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7636. This specification describes how an otherwise unsecure public client, such as a mobile native app or desktop application, can utilize the authorization code grant flow in a secure way by adding an extra layer of security.

The OAuth 2.0 specification was published in 2012, and over the years a lot of lessons have been learned about what works and what does not. In 2019, work began to establish OAuth 2.1, consolidating all the best practices and experiences from using OAuth 2.0. A draft version can be found here: https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-oauth-v2-1-01.

In my opinion, the most important improvements in OAuth 2.1 are:

  • PKCE is integrated in the authorization code grant flow. Use of PKCE will be required by public clients to improve their security, as described above. For confidential clients, where the authorization server can verify their credentials, the use of PKCE is not required, only recommended.
  • The implicit grant flow is deprecated and omitted from the specification, due to its less secure nature.
  • The resource owner password credentials grant flow is also deprecated and omitted from the specification, for the same reasons.

Given the direction in the upcoming OAuth 2.1 specification, we will only use the authorization code grant flow and the client credentials grant flow in this book.

When it comes to automating tests against APIs that are protected by OAuth 2.0, the client credentials grant flow is very handy since it doesn't require manual interaction using a web browser. We will use this grant flow later on in this chapter with our test script; see the Changes in the test script section.

Introducing OpenID Connect

OpenID Connect (abbreviated to OIDC) is, as has already been mentioned, an add-on to OAuth 2.0 that enables client applications to verify the identity of users. OIDC adds an extra token, an ID token, that the client application gets back from the authorization server after a completed grant flow.

The ID token is encoded as a JSON Web Token (JWT) and contains a number of claims, such as the ID and email address of the user. The ID token is digitally signed using JSON web signatures. This makes it possible for a client application to trust the information in the ID token by validating its digital signature using public keys from the authorization server.

Optionally, access tokens can also be encoded and signed in the same way as ID tokens, but it is not mandatory according to the specification. Also important, OIDC defines a discovery endpoint, which is a standardized way to establish URLs to important endpoints, such as requesting authorization codes and tokens or getting the public keys to verify a digitally signed JWT. Finally, it also defines a user-info endpoint, which can be used to get extra information about an authenticated user given an access token for that user.

For an overview of the available specifications, see https://openid.net/developers/specs/.

In this book, we will only use authorization servers that comply with the OpenID Connect specification. This will simplify the configuration of resource servers by the use of their discovery endpoints. We will also use the optional support for digitally signed JWT access tokens to simplify how resource servers can verify the authenticity of the access tokens. See the Changes in both the edge server and the product-composite service section below.

This concludes our introduction to the OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect standards. Later on in this chapter, we will learn more about how to use these standards. In the next section, we will get a high-level view of how the system landscape will be secured.

Securing the system landscape

To secure the system landscape as described in the introduction to this chapter, we will perform the following steps:

  • Encrypt external requests and responses to and from our external API using HTTPS to protect against eavesdropping
  • Authenticate and authorize users and client applications that access our APIs using OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect
  • Secure access to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, using HTTP basic authentication

We will only apply HTTPS for external communication to our edge server, using plain HTTP for communication inside our system landscape.

In the chapter on service meshes (Chapter 18, Using a Service Mesh to Improve Observability and Management) that will appear later in this book, we will see how we can get help from a service mesh product to automatically provision HTTPS to secure communication inside a system landscape.

For test purposes, we will add a local OAuth 2.0 authorization server to our system landscape. All external communication with the authorization server will be routed through the edge server. The edge server and the product-composite service will act as OAuth 2.0 resource servers; that is, they will require a valid OAuth 2.0 access token to allow access.

To minimize the overhead of validating access tokens, we will assume that they are encoded as signed JWTs and that the authorization server exposes an endpoint that the resource servers can use to access the public keys, also known as a JSON Web Key Set or jwk-set for short, required to validate the signing.

The system landscape will look like the following:

Figure 11.2: Adding an authorization server to the system landscape

From the preceding diagram, we can note that:

  1. HTTPS is used for external communication, while plain text HTTP is used inside the system landscape
  2. The local OAuth 2.0 authorization server will be accessed externally through the edge server
  3. Both the edge server and the product-composite microservice will validate access tokens as signed JWTs
  4. The edge server and the product-composite microservice will get the authorization server's public keys from its jwk-set endpoint and use them to validate the signature of the JWT-based access tokens

Note that we will focus on securing access to APIs over HTTP, not on covering general best practices for securing web applications, for example, managing web application security risks pointed out by the OWASP Top Ten Project. Refer to https://owasp.org/www-project-top-ten/ for more information.

With this overview of how the system landscape will be secured, let's start to see how we can protect external communication from eavesdropping using HTTPS.

Protecting external communication with HTTPS

In this section, we will learn how to prevent eavesdropping on external communication, for example, from the internet, via the public APIs exposed by the edge server. We will use HTTPS to encrypt communication. To use HTTPS, we need to do the following:

  • Create a certificate: We will create our own self-signed certificate, sufficient for development purposes
  • Configure the edge server: It has to be configured to accept only HTTPS-based external traffic using the certificate

The self-signed certificate is created with the following command:

keytool -genkeypair -alias localhost -keyalg RSA -keysize 2048 -storetype PKCS12 -keystore edge.p12 -validity 3650

The source code comes with a sample certificate file, so you don't need to run this command to run the following examples.

The command will ask for a number of parameters. When asked for a password, I entered password. For the rest of the parameters, I simply entered an empty value to accept the default value. The certificate file created, edge.p12, is placed in the gateway projects folder, src/main/resources/keystore. This means that the certificate file will be placed in the .jar file when it is built and will be available on the classpath at runtime at keystore/edge.p12.

Providing certificates using the classpath is sufficient during development, but not applicable to other environments, for example, a production environment. See the Replacing a self-signed certificate at runtime section below for how we can replace this certificate with an external certificate at runtime!

To configure the edge server to use the certificate and HTTPS, the following is added to application.yml in the gateway project:

server.port: 8443

server.ssl:
 key-store-type: PKCS12
 key-store: classpath:keystore/edge.p12
 key-store-password: password
 key-alias: localhost

Some notes from the preceding source code:

  • The path to the certificate is specified in the server.ssl.key-store parameter, and is set to classpath:keystore/edge.p12. This means that the certificate will be picked up on the classpath from the location keystore/edge.p12.
  • The password for the certificate is specified in the server.ssl.key-store-password parameter.
  • To indicate that the edge server talks HTTPS and not HTTP, we also change the port from 8080 to 8443 in the server.port parameter.

In addition to these changes in the edge server, changes are also required in the following files to reflect the changes to the port and HTTP protocol, replacing HTTP with HTTPS and 8080 with 8443:

  • The three Docker Compose files, docker-compose*.yml
  • The test script, test-em-all.bash

Providing certificates using the classpath is, as already mentioned previously, only sufficient during development. Let's see how we can replace this certificate with an external certificate at runtime.

Replacing a self-signed certificate at runtime

Placing a self-signed certificate in the .jar file is only useful for development. For a working solution in runtime environments, for example, for test or production, it must be possible to use certificates signed by authorized CAs (short for Certificate Authorities).

It must also be possible to specify the certificates to be used during runtime without the need to rebuild the .jar files and, when using Docker, the Docker image that contains the .jar file. When using Docker Compose to manage the Docker container, we can map a volume in the Docker container to a certificate that resides on the Docker host. We can also set up environment variables for the Docker container that points to the external certificate in the Docker volume.

In Chapter 15, Introduction to Kubernetes, we will learn about Kubernetes, where we will see more powerful solutions for how to handle secrets, such as certificates, that are suitable for running Docker containers in a cluster; that is, where containers are scheduled on a group of Docker hosts and not on a single Docker host.

The changes described in this topic have not been applied to the source code in the book's GitHub repository; you need to make them yourself to see them in action!

To replace the certificate packaged in the .jar file, perform the following steps:

  1. Create a second certificate and set the password to testtest, when asked for it:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11
    mkdir keystore
    keytool -genkeypair -alias localhost -keyalg RSA -keysize 2048 -storetype PKCS12 -keystore keystore/edge-test.p12 -validity 3650
    
  2. Update the Docker Compose file, docker-compose.yml, with environment variables for the location, the password for the new certificate, and a volume that maps to the folder where the new certificate is placed. The configuration of the edge server will look like the following after the change:
    gateway:
      environment:
        - SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=docker
        - SERVER_SSL_KEY_STORE=file:/keystore/edge-test.p12
        - SERVER_SSL_KEY_STORE_PASSWORD=testtest
      volumes:
        - $PWD/keystore:/keystore
      build: spring-cloud/gateway
      mem_limit: 512m
      ports:
        - "8443:8443"
    
  3. If the edge server is up and running, it needs to be restarted with the following commands:
    docker-compose up -d --scale gateway=0
    docker-compose up -d --scale gateway=1
    

    The command docker-compose restart gateway might look like a good candidate for restarting the gateway service, but it actually does not take changes in docker-compose.yml into consideration. Hence, it is not a useful command in this case.

    The new certificate is now in use!

This concludes the section on how to protect external communication with HTTPS. In the next section, we will learn how to secure access to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, using HTTP Basic authentication.

Securing access to the discovery server

Previously, we learned how to protect external communication with HTTPS. Now we will use HTTP Basic authentication to restrict access to the APIs and web pages on the discovery server, Netflix Eureka. This means that we will require a user to supply a username and password to get access. Changes are required both on the Eureka server and in the Eureka clients, described as follows.

Changes in the Eureka server

To protect the Eureka server, the following changes have been applied in the source code:

  1. In build.gradle, a dependency has been added for Spring Security:
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-security'
    
  2. Security configuration has been added to the SecurityConfig class:
    1. The user is defined as follows:
      public void configure(AuthenticationManagerBuilder auth) throws Exception {
        auth.inMemoryAuthentication()
         .passwordEncoder(NoOpPasswordEncoder.getInstance())
         .withUser(username).password(password)
         .authorities("USER");
      }
      
    2. The username and password are injected into the constructor from the configuration file:
      @Autowired
      public SecurityConfig(
        @Value("${app.eureka-username}") String username,
        @Value("${app.eureka-password}") String password
      ) {
        this.username = username;
        this.password = password;
      }
      
    3. All APIs and web pages are protected using HTTP Basic authentication by means of the following definition:
      protected void configure(HttpSecurity http) throws Exception {
        http
          .authorizeRequests()
            .anyRequest().authenticated()
            .and()
            .httpBasic();
      }
      
  3. Credentials for the user are set up in the configuration file, application.yml:
    app:
     eureka-username: u
     eureka-password: p
    
  4. Finally, the test class, EurekaServerApplicationTests, uses the credentials from the configuration file when testing the APIs of the Eureka server:
    @Value("${app.eureka-username}")
    private String username;
     
    @Value("${app.eureka-password}")
    private String password;
     
    @Autowired
    public void setTestRestTemplate(TestRestTemplate testRestTemplate) {
       this.testRestTemplate = testRestTemplate.withBasicAuth(username, password);
    }
    

The above are the steps required for restricting access to the APIs and web pages of the discovery server, Netflix Eureka. It will now use HTTP Basic authentication and require a user to supply a username and password to get access. The last step is to configure Netflix Eureka clients so that they pass credentials when accessing the Netflix Eureka server.

Changes in Eureka clients

For Eureka clients, the credentials can be specified in the connection URL for the Eureka server. This is specified in each client's configuration file, application.yml, as follows:

app:
  eureka-username: u
  eureka-password: p
 
eureka:
  client:
     serviceUrl:
       defaultZone: "http://${app.eureka-username}:${app.eureka-
                     password}@${app.eureka-server}:8761/eureka/"

This concludes the section on how to restrict access to the Netflix Eureka server. In the section Testing the protected discovery server, we will run tests to verify that the access is protected. In the next section, we will learn how to add a local authorization server to the system landscape.

Adding a local authorization server

To be able to run tests locally and fully automated with APIs that are secured using OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect, we will add an authorization server that is compliant with these specifications to our system landscape. Spring Security unfortunately does not provide an authorization server out of the box. But in April 2020, a community-driven project, Spring Authorization Server, led by the Spring Security team, was announced with the goal to deliver an authorization server. For more information, see https://spring.io/blog/2020/04/15/announcing-the-spring-authorization-server.

The Spring Authorization Server supports both the use of the OpenID Connect discovery endpoint and digital signing of access tokens. It also provides an endpoint that can be accessed using the discovery information to get keys for verifying the digital signature of a token. With support for these features, it can be used as the authorization server in local and automated tests that verify that the system landscape works as expected.

The authorization server in this book is based on the sample authorization server provided by the Spring Authorization Server project; see https://github.com/spring-projects-experimental/spring-authorization-server/tree/master/samples/boot/oauth2-integration/authorizationserver.

The following changes have been applied to the sample project:

  • The build file has been updated to follow the structure of the other projects' build files in this book.
  • The port is set to 9999.
  • A Dockerfile has been added with the same structure as for the other projects in this book.
  • The authorization server has been integrated with Eureka for service discovery in the same way as the other projects in this book.
  • Public access has been added to the actuator's endpoints.

    WARNING: As already warned about in Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices, allowing public access to the actuator's endpoints is very helpful during development, but it can be a security issue to reveal too much information in actuator endpoints in production systems. Therefore, plan for minimizing the information exposed by the actuator endpoints in production!

  • Unit tests have been added that verify access to the most critical endpoints according to the OpenID Connect specification.
  • The username and password for the single registered user are set to "u" and "p" respectively.
  • Two OAuth clients are registered, reader and writer, where the reader client is granted a product:read scope and the writer client is granted both a product:read and product:write scope. Both clients are configured to have the client secret set to secret.
  • Allowed redirect URIs for the clients are set to https://my.redirect.uri and https://localhost:8443/webjars/swagger-ui/oauth2-redirect.html. The first URL will be used in the tests described below and the second URL is used by the Swagger UI component.

The source code for the authorization server is available in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11/spring-cloud/authorization-server.

To incorporate the authorization server in the system landscape, changes to the following files have been applied:

  • The server has been added to the common build file, settings.gradle
  • The server has been added to the three Docker Compose files, docker-compose*.yml
  • The edge server, spring-cloud/gateway:
    • A health check has been added for the authorization server in HealthCheckConfiguration.
    • Routes to the authorization server for the URIs starting with /oauth, /login, and /error have been added in the configuration file application.yml. These URIs are used to issue tokens for clients, authenticate users, and show error messages.
    • Since these three URIs need to be unprotected by the edge server, they are configured in the new class SecurityConfig to permit all requests.

Due to a regression in Spring Security 5.5, which is used by Spring Boot 2.5, the Spring Authorization Server can't be used with Spring Boot 2.5 at the time of writing this chapter. Instead, Spring Boot 2.4.4 and Spring Cloud 2020.0.2 are used. For details, see:

With an understanding of how a local authorization server is added to the system landscape, let's move on and see how to use OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect to authenticate and authorize access to APIs.

Protecting APIs using OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect

With the authorization server in place, we can enhance the edge server and the product-composite service to become OAuth 2.0 resource servers, so that they will require a valid access token to allow access. The edge server will be configured to accept any access token it can validate using the digital signature provided by the authorization server. The product-composite service will also require the access token to contain valid OAuth 2.0 scopes:

  • The product:read scope will be required for accessing the read-only APIs
  • The product:write scope will be required for accessing the create and delete APIs

The product-composite service will also be enhanced with configuration that allows its Swagger UI component to interact with the authorization server to issue an access token. This will allow users of the Swagger UI web page to test the protected API.

We also need to enhance the test script, test-em-all.bash, so that it acquires access tokens and uses them when it performs the tests.

Changes in both the edge server and the product-composite service

The following changes have been applied in the source code to both the edge server and the product-composite service:

  • Spring Security dependencies have been added to build.gradle to support OAuth 2.0 resource servers:
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-security'
    implementation 'org.springframework.security:spring-security-oauth2-resource-server'
    implementation 'org.springframework.security:spring-security-oauth2-jose'
    
  • Security configurations have been added to new SecurityConfig classes in both projects:
    @EnableWebFluxSecurity
    public class SecurityConfig {
     
      @Bean
      SecurityWebFilterChain springSecurityFilterChain(
          ServerHttpSecurity http) {
        http
          .authorizeExchange()
            .pathMatchers("/actuator/**").permitAll()
            .anyExchange().authenticated()
            .and()
          .oauth2ResourceServer()
            .jwt();
        return http.build();
      }
    }
    

    Explanations for the preceding source code are as follows:

    • The annotation @EnableWebFluxSecurity enables Spring Security support for APIs based on Spring WebFlux.
    • .pathMatchers("/actuator/**").permitAll() is used to allow unrestricted access to URLs that should be unprotected, for example, the actuator endpoints in this case. Refer to the source code for URLs that are treated as unprotected. Be careful about which URLs are exposed unprotected. For example, the actuator endpoints should be protected before going to production.
    • .anyExchange().authenticated() ensures that the user is authenticated before being allowed access to all other URLs.
    • .oauth2ResourceServer().jwt() specifies that authorization will be based on OAuth 2.0 access tokens encoded as JWTs.
  • The authorization server's OIDC discovery endpoint has been registered in the configuration file, application.yml:
    app.auth-server: localhost
    
    spring.security.oauth2.resourceserver.jwt.issuer-uri: http://${app.auth-server}:9999
    
    ---
    spring.config.activate.on-profile: docker
    
    app.auth-server: auth-server
    

Later on in this chapter, when the system landscape is started up, you can test the discovery endpoint. You can, for example, find the endpoint that returns the keys required for verifying the digital signature of a token using the command:

docker-compose exec auth-server curl localhost:9999/.well-known/openid-configuration -s | jq -r .jwks_uri

We also need to make some changes that only apply to the product-composite service.

Changes in the product-composite service only

In addition to the common changes applied in the previous section, the following changes have also been applied to the product-composite service:

  • The security configuration in the SecurityConfig class has been refined by requiring OAuth 2.0 scopes in the access token in order to allow access:
    .pathMatchers(POST, "/product-composite/**")
      .hasAuthority("SCOPE_product:write")
    .pathMatchers(DELETE, "/product-composite/**")
      .hasAuthority("SCOPE_product:write")
    .pathMatchers(GET, "/product-composite/**")
      .hasAuthority("SCOPE_product:read")
    

    By convention, OAuth 2.0 scopes need to be prefixed with SCOPE_ when checked for authority using Spring Security.

  • A method, logAuthorizationInfo(), has been added to log relevant parts from the JWT-encoded access token upon each call to the API. The access token can be acquired using the standard Spring Security, SecurityContext, which, in a reactive environment, can be acquired using the static helper method, ReactiveSecurityContextHolder.getContext(). Refer to the ProductCompositeServiceImpl class for details.
  • The use of OAuth has been disabled when running Spring-based integration tests. To prevent the OAuth machinery from kicking in when we are running integration tests, we disable it as follows:
    • A security configuration, TestSecurityConfig, is added to be used during tests. It permits access to all resources:
      http.csrf().disable().authorizeExchange().anyExchange().permitAll();
      
    • In each Spring integration test class, we configure TestSecurityConfig to override the existing security configuration with the following:
      @SpringBootTest( 
        classes = {TestSecurityConfig.class},
        properties = {"spring.main.allow-bean-definition-
          overriding=true"})
      

Changes to allow Swagger UI to acquire access tokens

To allow access to the protected APIs from the Swagger UI component, the following changes have been applied in the product-composite service:

  • The web pages exposed by the Swagger UI component have been configured to be publicly available. The following line has been added to the SecurityConfig class:
    .pathMatchers("/openapi/**").permitAll()
    .pathMatchers("/webjars/**").permitAll()
    
  • The OpenAPI Specification of the API has been enhanced to require that the security schema security_auth is applied.

    The following line has been added to the definition of the interface ProductCompositeService in the API project:

    @SecurityRequirement(name = "security_auth")
    
  • To define the semantics of the security schema security_auth, the class OpenApiConfig has been added to the product-composite project. It looks like this:
    @SecurityScheme(
      name = "security_auth", type = SecuritySchemeType.OAUTH2,
      flows = @OAuthFlows(
        authorizationCode = @OAuthFlow(
          authorizationUrl = "${springdoc.oAuthFlow.
            authorizationUrl}",
          tokenUrl = "${springdoc.oAuthFlow.tokenUrl}", 
          scopes = {
            @OAuthScope(name = "product:read", description =
              "read scope"),
            @OAuthScope(name = "product:write", description = 
              "write scope")
          }
    )))
    public class OpenApiConfig {}
    

    From the preceding class definition, we can see:

    1. The security schema will be based on OAuth 2.0
    2. The authorization code grant flow will be used
    3. The required URLs for acquiring an authorization code and access tokens will be supplied by the configuration using the parameters springdoc.oAuthFlow.authorizationUrl and springdoc.oAuthFlow.tokenUrl
    4. A list of scopes (product:read and product:write) that Swagger UI will require to be able to call the APIs
  • Finally, some configuration is added to application.yml:
      swagger-ui:
        oauth2-redirect-url: https://localhost:8443/ webjars/swagger-ui/oauth2-redirect.html
        oauth:
          clientId: writer
          clientSecret: secret
          useBasicAuthenticationWithAccessCodeGrant: true
      oAuthFlow:
        authorizationUrl: https://localhost:8443/oauth2/authorize
        tokenUrl: https://localhost:8443/oauth2/token
    

    From the preceding configuration, we can see:

    1. The redirect URL that Swagger UI will use to acquire the authorization code.
    2. Its client ID and client secret.
    3. It will use HTTP Basic Authentication when identifying itself for the authorization server.
    4. The values of the authorizationUrl and tokenUrl parameters, used by the OpenApiConfig class described above. Note that these URLs are used by the web browser and not by the product-composite service itself. So they must be resolvable from the web browser.

To allow unprotected access to the Swagger UI web pages, the edge server has also been configured to allow unrestricted access to URLs that are routed to the Swagger UI component. The following is added to the edge server's SecurityConfig class:

.pathMatchers("/openapi/**").permitAll()
.pathMatchers("/webjars/**").permitAll()

With these changes in place, both the edge server and the product-composite service can act as OAuth 2.0 resource servers, and the Swagger UI component can act as an OAuth client. The last step we need to take to introduce the usage of OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect is to update the test script, so it acquires access tokens and uses them when running the tests.

Changes in the test script

To start with, we need to acquire an access token before we can call any of the APIs, except the health API. This is done, as already mentioned above, using the OAuth 2.0 client credentials flow. To be able to call the create and delete APIs, we acquire an access token as the writer client, as follows:

ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://writer:secret@$HOST:$PORT/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .access_token -r)

From the preceding command, we can see that it uses HTTP Basic authentication, passing its client ID and client secret as writer:secret@ before the hostname.

To verify that the scope-based authorization works, two tests have been added to the test script:

# Verify that a request without access token fails on 401, Unauthorized
assertCurl 401 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS -s"

# Verify that the reader client with only read scope can call the read API but not delete API
READER_ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://reader:secret@$HOST:$PORT/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .access_token -r)
READER_AUTH="-H \"Authorization: Bearer $READER_ACCESS_TOKEN\""

assertCurl 200 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS $READER_AUTH -s"
assertCurl 403 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS $READER_AUTH -X DELETE -s"

The test script uses the reader client's credentials to acquire an access token:

  • The first test calls an API without supplying an access token. The API is expected to return the 401 Unauthorized HTTP status.
  • The second test verifies that the reader client can call a read-only API.
  • The last test calls an updating API using the reader client, which is only granted a read scope. A request sent to the delete API is expected to return the 403 Forbidden HTTP status.

For the full source code, see test-em-all.bash.

With the test script updated to acquire and use OAuth 2.0 access tokens, we are ready to try it out in the next section!

Testing with the local authorization server

In this section we will try out the secured system landscape; that is, we will test all the security components together. We will use the local authorization server to issue access tokens. The following tests will be performed:

  1. First, we build from source and run the test script to ensure that everything fits together.
  2. Next, we will test the protected discovery server's API and web page.
  3. After that, we will learn how to acquire access tokens using OAuth 2.0 client credentials and authorization code grant flows.
  4. With the issued access tokens, we will test the protected APIs. We will also verify that an access token issued for a reader client can't be used to call an updating API.
  5. Finally, we will also verify that Swagger UI can issue access tokens and call the APIs.

Building and running the automated tests

To build and run automated tests, we perform the following steps:

  1. First, build the Docker images from source with the following commands:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11
    ./gradlew build && docker-compose build
    
  2. Next, start the system landscape in Docker and run the usual tests with the following command:
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    

Note the new negative tests at the end that verify that we get a 401 Unauthorized code back when not authenticated, and 403 Forbidden when not authorized.

Testing the protected discovery server

With the protected discovery server, Eureka, up and running, we have to supply valid credentials to be able to access its APIs and web pages.

For example, asking the Eureka server for registered instances can be done by means of the following curl command, where we supply the username and password directly in the URL:

curl -H "accept:application/json" https://u:p@localhost:8443/eureka/api/apps -ks | jq -r .applications.application[].instance[].instanceId

A sample response is as follows:

Figure 11.3: Services registered in Eureka using an API call

When accessing the web page on https://localhost:8443/eureka/web, we first have to accept an unsecure connection, since our certificate is self-signed, and next we have to supply valid credentials, as specified in the configuration file (u as username and p as password):

Figure 11.4: Eureka requires authentication

Following a successful login, we will see the familiar web page from the Eureka server:

Figure 11.5: Services registered in Eureka using the web page

After ensuring that access to the Eureka server is protected, we will learn how to issue OAuth access tokens.

Acquiring access tokens

Now we are ready to acquire access tokens using grant flows defined by OAuth 2.0. We will first try out the client credentials grant flow, followed by the authorization code grant flow.

Acquiring access tokens using the client credentials grant flow

To get an access token for the writer client, that is, with both the product:read and product:write scopes, issue the following command:

curl -k https://writer:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .

The client identifies itself using HTTP Basic authentication, passing its client ID, writer, and its client secret, secret.

A sample response is as follows:

Figure 11.6: Sample token response

From the screenshot we can see that we got the following information in the response:

  • The access token itself.
  • The scopes granted to the token. The writer client is granted both the product:write and product:read scope. It is also granted the openid scope, allowing access to information regarding the user's ID, such as an email address.
  • The type of token we got; Bearer means that the bearer of this token should be given access according to the scopes granted to the token.
  • The number of seconds that the access token is valid for, 299 seconds in this case.

To get an access token for the reader client, that is, with only the product:read scope, simply replace writer with reader in the preceding command, resulting in:

curl -k https://reader:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .

Acquiring access tokens using the authorization code grant flow

To acquire an access token using the authorization code grant flow, we need to involve a web browser. This grant flow is a bit more complicated in order to make it secure in an environment that is partly unsecure (the web browser).

In the first unsecure step, we will use the web browser to acquire an authorization code that can be used only once, to be exchanged for an access token. The authorization code will be passed from the web browser to a secure layer, for example, server-side code, which can make a new request to the authorization server to exchange the authorization code for an access token. In this secure exchange, the server has to supply a client secret to verify its identity.

Perform the following steps to execute the authorization code grant flow:

  1. To get an authorization code for the reader client, use the following URL in a web browser that accepts the use of self-signed certificates, for example, Chrome: https://localhost:8443/oauth2/authorize?response_type=code&client_id=reader&redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri&scope=product:read&state=35725.
  2. When asked to log in by the web browser, use the credentials specified in the configuration of the authorization server, u and p:

    Figure 11.7: Trying out the authorization code grant flow

  3. Next, we will be asked to give the reader client consent to call the APIs in our name:

    Figure 11.8: Authorization code grant flow consent page

  4. After clicking on the Submit Consent button, we will get the following response:

    Figure 11.9: Authorization code grant flow redirect page

  5. This might, at a first glance, look a bit disappointing. The URL that the authorization server sent back to the web browser is based on the redirect URI specified by the client in the initial request. Copy the URL into a text editor and you will find something similar to the following:

    https://my.redirect.uri/?code=Yyr...X0Q&state=35725

    Great! We can find the authorization code in the redirect URL in the code request parameter. Extract the authorization code from the code parameter and define an environment variable, CODE, with its value:

    CODE=Yyr...X0Q
    
  6. Next, pretend you are the backend server that exchanges the authorization code with an access token using the following curl command:
    curl -k https://reader:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token \
     -d grant_type=authorization_code \
     -d client_id=reader \
     -d redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri \
     -d code=$CODE -s | jq .
    

    A sample response is as follows:

    Figure 11.10: Authorization code grant flow access token

    From the screenshot, we can see that we got similar information in the response as we got from the client credentials flow, with the following exceptions:

    • Since we used a more secure grant flow, we also got a refresh token issued
    • Since we asked for an access token for the reader client, we only got a product:read scope, no product:write scope
  7. To get an authorization code for the writer client, use the following URL: https://localhost:8443/oauth2/authorize?response_type=code&client_id=writer&redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri&scope=product:read+product:write&state=72489.
  8. To exchange the code for an access token for the writer client, run the following command:
    curl -k https://writer:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token \
      -d grant_type=authorization_code \
      -d client_id=writer \
      -d redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri \
      -d code=$CODE -s | jq .
    

    Verify that the response now also contains the product:write scope!

Calling protected APIs using access tokens

Now, let's use the access tokens we have acquired to call the protected APIs.

An OAuth 2.0 access token is expected to be sent as a standard HTTP authorization header, where the access token is prefixed with Bearer.

Run the following commands to call the protected APIs:

  1. First, call an API to retrieve a composite product without a valid access token:
    ACCESS_TOKEN=an-invalid-token
    curl https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -i  
    

    It should return the following response:

    Figure 11.11: Invalid token results in a 401 Unauthorized response

    The error message clearly states that the access token is invalid!

  2. Next, try using the API to retrieve a composite product using one of the access tokens acquired for the reader client from the previous section:
    ACCESS_TOKEN={a-reader-access-token}
    curl https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -i 
    

    Now we will get the 200 OK status code and the expected response body will be returned:

    Figure 11.12: Valid access token results in a 200 OK response

  3. If we try to access an updating API, for example, the delete API, with an access token acquired for the reader client, the call will fail:
    ACCESS_TOKEN={a-reader-access-token}
    curl https://localhost:8443/product-composite/999 -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -X DELETE -i  
    

    It will fail with a response similar to the following:

    Figure 11.13: Insufficient scope results in a 403 Forbidden result

    From the error response, it is clear that we are forbidden to call the API since the request requires higher privileges than what our access token is granted.

  4. If we repeat the call to the delete API, but with an access token acquired for the writer client, the call will succeed with 200 OK in the response.

    The delete operation should return 200 even if the product with the specified product ID does not exist in the underlying database, since the delete operation is idempotent, as described in Chapter 6, Adding Persistence. Refer to the Adding new APIs section.

    If you look into the log output using the docker-compose logs -f product-composite command, you should be able to find authorization information such as the following:

    Figure 11.14: Authorization info in the log output

    This information was extracted in the product-composite service from the JWT-encoded access token; the product-composite service did not need to communicate with the authorization server to get this information!

With these tests, we have seen how to acquire an access token with the client credentials and authorization code grant flows. We have also seen how scopes can be used to limit what a client can do with a specific access token, for example, only use it for reading operations.

Testing Swagger UI with OAuth 2.0

In this section, we will learn how to use the Swagger UI component to access the protected API. The configuration described in the Changes in the product-composite service only section above allows us to issue an access token for Swagger UI and use it when calling the APIs from Swagger UI.

To try it out, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Swagger UI start page by going to the following URL in a web browser: https://localhost:8443/openapi/swagger-ui.html.
  2. On the start page we can now see a new button, next to the Servers drop-down list, with the text Authorize.
  3. Click on the Authorize button to initiate an authorization code grant flow.
  4. Swagger UI will present a list of scopes that it will ask the authorization server to get access to. Select all scopes by clicking on the link with the text select all and then clicking on the Authorize button:

    Figure 11.15: Swagger UI asking for OAuth scopes

    You will then be redirected to the authorization server. If you are not already logged in from the web browser used, the authorization server will ask for your credentials as in the Acquiring access tokens using the authorization code grant flow section.

  5. Log in with username u and password p.
  6. Next, the authorization server will ask for your consent. Select both scopes and click on the Submit Consent button.
  7. Swagger UI will complete the authorization process by showing information about the completed grant flow. Click on the Close button to get back to the start page:

    Figure 11.16: Swagger UI summarizing the OAuth grant flow

  8. Now you can try out the APIs in the same way as described in Chapter 5, Adding an API Description Using OpenAPI. Swagger UI will add the access token to the requests. If you look closely in the curl command reported below the Responses header, you can find the access token.

This completes the tests we will perform with the local authorization server. In the next section, we will replace it with an external OpenID Connect-compliant provider.

Testing with an external OpenID Connect provider

So, the OAuth dance works fine with an authorization server we control ourselves. But what happens if we replace it with a certified OpenID Connect provider? In theory, it should work out of the box. Let's find out, shall we?

For a list of certified implementations of OpenID Connect, refer to https://openid.net/developers/certified/. We will use Auth0, https://auth0.com/, for our tests with an external OpenID provider. To be able to use Auth0 instead of our own authorization server, we will go through the following topics:

  • Setting up an account with a reader and writer client and a user in Auth0
  • Applying the changes required to use Auth0 as an OpenID provider
  • Running the test script to verify that it is working
  • Acquiring access tokens using the following grant flows:
    • Client credentials grant flow
    • Authorization code grant flow
  • Calling protected APIs using the access tokens acquired from the grant flows
  • Using the user info endpoint to get more information about a user

Let us go through each of them in the following sections.

Setting up and configuring an account in Auth0

Most of the configuration required in Auth0 will be taken care of by a script that uses Auth0's management API. But we must perform a few manual steps up to the point where Auth0 has created a client ID and client secret we can use to access the management API. Auth0's service is multi-tenant, allowing us to create our own domain of OAuth objects in terms of clients, resource owners, and resource servers.

Perform the following manual steps to sign up for a free account in Auth0 and create a client that we can use to access the management API:

  1. Open the URL https://auth0.com in your browser.
  2. Click on the Sign up button:
    1. Sign up with an email of your choice.
    2. After a successful sign-up, you will be asked to create a tenant domain. Enter the name of the tenant of your choice, in my case: dev-ml.eu.auth0.com.
    3. Fill in information about your account as requested.
    4. Also, look in your mailbox for an email with the subject Please Verify Your Auth0 Account and use the instructions in the email to verify your account.
  3. Following sign-up, you will be directed to your dashboard with a Getting Started page.
  4. In the menu to the left, click on Applications to get it expanded, then click on APIs to find the management API, Auth0 Management API. This API was created for you during the creation of your tenant. We will use this API to create the required definitions in the tenant.
  5. Click on Auth0 Management API and select the Test tab.
  6. A big button with the text CREATE & AUTHORIZE TEST APPLICATION will appear. Click on it to get a client created that can be used to access the management API.
  7. Once created, a page is displayed with the header Asking Auth0 for tokens from my application. As a final step, we need to give the created client permission to use the management APIs.
  8. Click on the tab Machine to Machine Applications, next to the Test tab.
  9. Here we will find the test client, Auth0 Management API (Test Application), and we can see that it is authorized to use the management API. If we click on the down arrow next to the Authorized toggle button, a large number of available privileges are revealed.
  10. Click on the All choice and then on the UPDATE button. The screen should look similar to the following screenshot:

    Figure 11.17: Auth0 management API client permissions

  11. Press on the CONTINUE button after understanding that you now have a very powerful client with access to all management APIs within your tenant.
  12. Now, we just need to collect the client ID and client secret of the created client. The easiest way to do that is to select Applications in the menu to the left (under the main menu choice Applications) and then select the application named Auth0 Management API (Test Application). A screen similar to the following should be displayed:

    Figure 11.18: Auth0 management API client application information

  13. Open the file $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11/auth0/env.bash and copy the following values from the screen above:
    1. Domain into the value of the variable TENANT
    2. Client ID into the value of the variable MGM_CLIENT_ID
    3. Client Secret into the value of the variable MGM_CLIENT_SECRET
  14. Complete the values required in the env.bash file by specifying an email address and password, in the variables USER_EMAIL and USER_PASSWORD, of a test user that the script will create for us.

Specifying a password for a user like this is not considered best practice from a security perspective. Auth0 supports enrolling users who will be able to set the password themselves, but it is more involved to set up. For more information, see https://auth0.com/docs/connections/database/password-change. Since this is only used for test purposes, specifying a password like this is OK.

We can now run the script that will create the following definitions for us:

  • Two applications, reader and writer, clients in OAuth terminology
  • The product-composite API, a resource server in OAuth terminology, with the OAuth scopes product:read and product:write
  • A user, a resource owner in OAuth terminology, that we will use to test the authorization code grant flow
  • Finally, we will grant the reader application the scope product:read, and the writer application the scopes product:read and product:write

Run the following commands:

cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11/auth0
./setup-tenant.bash

Expect the following output (details removed from the output below):

Figure 11.19: Output from setup-tenant.bash the first time it is executed

Save a copy of the export commands printed at the end of the output; we will use them multiple times later on in this chapter.

Also, look in your mailbox for the email specified for the test user. You will receive a mail with the subject Verify your email. Use the instructions in the email to verify the test user's email address.

Note that the script is idempotent, meaning it can be run multiple times without corrupting the configuration. If running the script again, it should respond with:

Figure 11.20: Output from setup-tenant.bash the next time it is executed

It can be very handy to be able to run the script again, for example, to get access to the reader's and writer's client ID and client secret.

If you need to remove the objects created by setup-tenant.bash, you can run the script reset-tenant.bash.

With an Auth0 account created and configured, we can move on and apply the necessary configuration changes in the system landscape.

Applying the required changes to use Auth0 as an OpenID provider

In this section, we will learn what configuration changes are required to be able to replace the local authorization server with Auth0. We only need to change the configuration for the two services that act as OAuth resource servers, the product-composite and gateway services. We also need to change our test script a bit, so that it acquires the access tokens from Auth0 instead of acquiring them from our local authorization server. Let's start with the OAuth resource servers, the product-composite and gateway services.

The changes described in this topic have not been applied to the source code in the book's Git repository; you need to make them yourself to see them in action!

Changing the configuration in the OAuth resource servers

As already described, when using an OpenID Connect provider, we only have to configure the base URI to the standardized discovery endpoint in the OAuth resource servers.

In the product-composite and gateway projects, update the OIDC discovery endpoint to point to Auth0 instead of to our local authorization server. Make the following change to the application.yml file in both projects:

  1. Locate the property spring.security.oauth2.resourceserver.jwt.issuer-uri.
  2. Replace its value with https://${TENANT}/, where ${TENANT} should be replaced with your tenant domain name; in my case, it is dev-ml.eu.auth0.com. Do not forget the trailing /!

In my case, the configuration of the OIDC discovery endpoint will look like this:

spring.security.oauth2.resourceserver.jwt.issuer-uri: https://dev-ml.eu.auth0.com/

If you are curious, you can see what's in the discovery document by running the following command:

curl https://${TENANT}/.well-known/openid-configuration -s | jq

Rebuild the product-composite and gateway services as follows:

cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11
./gradlew build && docker-compose up -d --build product-composite gateway

With the product-composite and gateway services updated, we can move on and also update the test script.

Changing the test script so it acquires access tokens from Auth0

We also need to update the test script so it acquires access tokens from the Auth0 OIDC provider. This is done by performing the following changes in test-em-all.bash:

  1. Find the following command:
    ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://writer:secret@$HOST:$PORT/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .access_token -r)
    

    Replace it with these commands:

    export TENANT=...
    export WRITER_CLIENT_ID=...
    export WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET=...
    
    ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -X POST https://$TENANT/oauth/token \
      -d grant_type=client_credentials \
      -d audience=https://localhost:8443/product-composite \
      -d scope=product:read+product:write \
      -d client_id=$WRITER_CLIENT_ID \
      -d client_secret=$WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET -s | jq -r .access_token)
    

    Note from the preceding command that Auth0 requires us to specify the intended audience of the requested access token, as an extra layer of security. The audience is the API we plan to call using the access token. Given that an API implementation verifies the audience field, this would prevent the situation where someone tries to use an access token issued for another purpose to get access to an API.

  2. Set the values for the environment variables TENANT, WRITER_CLIENT_ID, and WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET in the preceding commands with the values returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

    As mentioned above, you can run the script again to acquire these values without risking any negative side effects!

  3. Next, find the following command:
    READER_ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://reader:secret@$HOST:$PORT/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq .access_token -r)
    

    Replace it with this command:

    export READER_CLIENT_ID=...
    export READER_CLIENT_SECRET=...
    
    READER_ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -X POST https://$TENANT/oauth/token \
      -d grant_type=client_credentials \
      -d audience=https://localhost:8443/product-composite \
      -d scope=product:read \
      -d client_id=$READER_CLIENT_ID \
      -d client_secret=$READER_CLIENT_SECRET -s | jq -r .access_token)
    

    Note that we only request the product:read scope and not the product:write scope here.

  4. Set the values for the environment variables READER_CLIENT_ID and READER_CLIENT_SECRET in the preceding commands with the values returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

Now the access tokens are issued by Auth0 instead of our local authorization server, and our API implementations can verify the access tokens using information from Auth0's discovery service configured in the application.yml files. The API implementations can, as before, use the scopes in the access tokens to authorize the client to perform the call to the API, or not.

With this, we have all the required changes in place. Let's run some tests to verify that we can acquire access tokens from Auth0.

Running the test script with Auth0 as the OpenID Connect provider

Now, we are ready to give Auth0 a try!

Run the usual tests, but this time using Auth0 as the OpenID Connect provider, with the following command:

./test-em-all.bash

In the logs, you will be able to find authorization information from the access tokens issued by Auth0. Run the command:

docker-compose logs product-composite | grep "Authorization info"

Expect the following outputs from the command:

  1. From calls using an access token with both the product:read and product:write scopes, we will see both scopes listed as follows:

    Figure 11.21: Authorization information for the writer client from Auth0 in the log output

  2. From calls using an access token with only the product:read scope, we will see that only that scope is listed as follows:

    Figure 11.22: Authorization information for the reader client from Auth0 in the log output

    As we can see from the log output, we now also get information regarding the intended audience for this access token. To strengthen security, we could add a test to our service that verifies that its URL, https://localhost:8443/product-composite in this case, is part of the audience list. This would, as mentioned earlier, prevent the situation where someone tries to use an access token issued for another purpose than to get access to our API.

With the automated tests working together with Auth0, we can move on and learn how to acquire access tokens using the different types of grant flow. Let's start with the client credentials grant flow.

Acquiring access tokens using the client credentials grant flow

If you want to acquire an access token from Auth0 yourself, you can do so by running the following command, using the client credentials grant flow:

export TENANT=...
export WRITER_CLIENT_ID=...
export WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET=...
curl -X POST https://$TENANT/oauth/token \
  -d grant_type=client_credentials \
  -d audience=https://localhost:8443/product-composite \
  -d scope=product:read+product:write \
  -d client_id=$WRITER_CLIENT_ID \
  -d client_secret=$WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET

Set the values for the environment variables TENANT, WRITER_CLIENT_ID, and WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET in the preceding commands with the values returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

Following the instructions in the Calling protected APIs using access tokens section, you should be able to call the APIs using the acquired access token.

Acquiring access tokens using the authorization code grant flow

In this section, we will learn how to acquire an access token from Auth0 using the authorization code grant flow. As already described above, we first need to acquire an authorization code using a web browser. Next, we can use server-side code to exchange the authorization code for an access token.

Perform the following steps to execute the authorization code grant flow with Auth0:

  1. To get an authorization code for the default app client, use the following URL in the web browser: https://${TENANT}/authorize?audience=https://localhost:8443/product-composite&scope=openid email product:read product:write&response_type=code&client_id=${WRITER_CLIENT_ID}&redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri&state=845361.

    Replace ${TENANT} and ${WRITER_CLIENT_ID} in the preceding URL with the tenant domain name and writer client ID returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

    Auth0 should present the following login screen:

    Figure 11.23: Authorization code grant flow with Auth0, login screen

  2. Following a successful login, Auth0 will ask you to give the client application your consent:

    Figure 11.24: Authorization code grant flow with Auth0, consent screen

    The authorization code is now in the URL in the browser, just like when we tried out the authorization code grant flow with our local authorization server:

    Figure 11.25: Authorization code grant flow with Auth0, access token

  3. Extract the code and run the following command to get the access token:
    CODE=...
    export TENANT=...
    export WRITER_CLIENT_ID=...
    export WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET=...
    curl -X POST https://$TENANT/oauth/token \
     -d grant_type=authorization_code \
     -d client_id=$WRITER_CLIENT_ID \
     -d client_secret=$WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET  \
     -d code=$CODE \
     -d redirect_uri=https://my.redirect.uri -s | jq .
    

    Set the values for the environment variables TENANT, WRITER_CLIENT_ID, and WRITER_CLIENT_SECRET in the preceding commands to the values returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

Now that we have learned how to acquire access tokens using both grant flows, we are ready to try calling the external API using an access token acquired from Auth0 in the next section.

Calling protected APIs using the Auth0 access tokens

We can use access tokens issued by Auth0 to call our APIs, just like when we used access tokens issued by our local authorization server.

For a read-only API, execute the following command:

ACCESS_TOKEN=...
curl https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -i  

For an updating API, execute the following command:

ACCESS_TOKEN=...
curl https://localhost:8443/product-composite/999 -k -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -X DELETE -i 

Since we have requested both scopes, product:read and product:write, both the preceding API calls are expected to return 200 OK.

Getting extra information about the user

From the log output in Figures 11.21 and 11.22 in the section Running the test script with Auth0 as the OpenID Connect provider, we could not see any information about the user that initiated the API request. If you want your API implementation to know a bit more about the user, it can call Auth0's userinfo_endpoint. The URL of the user-info endpoint can be found in the response of a request to the OIDC discovery endpoint as described in the section Changing the configuration in the OAuth resource servers. To get user info related to an access token, make the following request:

Export TENANT=...
curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" https://$TENANT/userinfo -s | jq

Set the values for the TENANT environment variable in the preceding commands to the values returned by the setup-tenant.bash script.

Note that this command only applies to access tokens issued using the authorization code grant flow. Access tokens issued using the client credentials grant flow don't contain any user information and will result in an error response if tried.

A sample response is as follows:

Figure 11.26: Requesting extra user information from Auth0

This endpoint can also be used to verify that the user hasn't revoked the access token in Auth0.

Wrap up the tests by shutting down the system landscape with the following command:

docker-compose down

This concludes the section where we have learned how to replace the local OAuth 2.0 authorization server with an external alternative. We have also seen how to reconfigure the microservice landscape to validate access tokens using an external OIDC provider.

Summary

In this chapter, we have learned how to use Spring Security to protect our APIs.

We have seen how easy it is to enable HTTPS to prevent eavesdropping by third parties using Spring Security. With Spring Security, we have also learned that it is straightforward to restrict access to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka, using HTTP Basic authentication. Finally, we have seen how we can use Spring Security to simplify the use of OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect to allow third-party client applications to access our APIs in the name of a user, but without requiring that the user share credentials with the client applications. We have learned both how to set up a local OAuth 2.0 authorization server based on Spring Security and also how to change the configuration so that an external OpenID Connect provider, Auth0, can be used instead.

One concern, however, is how to manage the configuration required. Each microservice instance must be provided with its own configuration, making it hard to get a good overview of the current configuration. Updating configuration that concerns multiple microservices will also be challenging. Added to the scattered configuration is the fact that some of the configuration we have seen so far contains sensitive information, such as credentials or certificates. It seems like we need a better way to handle the configuration for a number of cooperating microservices and also a solution for how to handle sensitive parts of the configuration.

In the next chapter, we will explore the Spring Cloud Config Server and see how it can be used to handle these types of problems.

Questions

  1. What are the benefits and shortcomings of using self-signed certificates?
  2. What is the purpose of OAuth 2.0 authorization codes?
  3. What is the purpose of OAuth 2.0 scopes?
  4. What does it mean when a token is a JWT?
  5. How can we trust the information that is stored in a JWT?
  6. Is it suitable to use the OAuth 2.0 authorization code grant flow with a native mobile app?
  7. What does OpenID Connect add to OAuth 2.0?
 

Centralized Configuration

In this chapter, we will learn how to use the Spring Cloud Configuration server to centralize managing the configuration of our microservices. As already described in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, an increasing number of microservices typically come with an increasing number of configuration files that need to be managed and updated.

With the Spring Cloud Configuration server, we can place the configuration files for all our microservices in a central configuration repository that will make it much easier to handle them. Our microservices will be updated to retrieve their configuration from the configuration server at startup.

The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • Introduction to the Spring Cloud Configuration server
  • Setting up a config server
  • Configuring clients of a config server
  • Structuring the configuration repository
  • Trying out the Spring Cloud Configuration server

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book, see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to add a configuration server to the microservice landscape, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 11, Securing Access to APIs. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter11 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12.

Introduction to the Spring Cloud Configuration server

The Spring Cloud Configuration server (shortened to config server) will be added to the existing microservice landscape behind the edge server, in the same way as for the other microservices:

Figure 12.1: Adding a config server to the system landscape

When it comes to setting up a config server, there are a number of options to consider:

  • Selecting a storage type for the configuration repository
  • Deciding on the initial client connection, either to the config server or to the discovery server
  • Securing the configuration, both against unauthorized access to the API and by avoiding storing sensitive information in plain text in the configuration repository

Let's go through each option one by one and also introduce the API exposed by the config server.

Selecting the storage type of the configuration repository

As already described in Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud, the config server supports the storing of configuration files in a number of different backends, for example:

  • Git repository
  • Local filesystem
  • HashiCorp Vault
  • JDBC database

For a full list of backends supported by the Spring Cloud Configuration Server project, see https://cloud.spring.io/spring-cloud-config/reference/html/#_environment_repository.

Other Spring projects have added extra backends for storing configuration, for example, the Spring Cloud AWS project, which has support for using either AWS Parameter Store or AWS Secrets Manager as backends. For details, see https://docs.awspring.io/spring-cloud-aws/docs/current/reference/html/index.html.

In this chapter, we will use a local filesystem. To use the local filesystem, the config server needs to be launched with the Spring profile, native, enabled. The location of the configuration repository is specified using the spring.cloud.config.server.native.searchLocations property.

Deciding on the initial client connection

By default, a client connects first to the config server to retrieve its configuration. Based on the configuration, it connects to the discovery server, Netflix Eureka in our case, to register itself. It is also possible to do this the other way around, that is, the client first connecting to the discovery server to find a config server instance and then connecting to the config server to get its configuration. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

In this chapter, the clients will first connect to the config server. With this approach, it will be possible to store the configuration of the discovery server in the config server.

To learn more about the other alternative, see https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-config/docs/3.0.2/reference/html/#discovery-first-bootstrap.

One concern with connecting to the config server first is that the config server can become a single point of failure. If the clients connect first to a discovery server, such as Netflix Eureka, there can be multiple config server instances registered so that a single point of failure can be avoided. When we learn about the service concept in Kubernetes later on in this book, starting with Chapter 15, Introduction to Kubernetes, we will see how we can avoid a single point of failure by running multiple containers, for example, config servers, behind each Kubernetes service.

Securing the configuration

Configuration information will, in general, be handled as sensitive information. This means that we need to secure the configuration information both in transit and at rest. From a runtime perspective, the config server does not need to be exposed to the outside through the edge server. During development, however, it is useful to be able to access the API of the config server to check the configuration. In production environments, it is recommended to lock down external access to the config server.

Securing the configuration in transit

When the configuration information is asked for by a microservice, or anyone using the API of the config server, it will be protected against eavesdropping by the edge server since it already uses HTTPS.

To ensure that the API user is a known client, we will use HTTP Basic authentication. We can set up HTTP Basic authentication by using Spring Security in the config server and specifying the environment variables, SPRING_SECURITY_USER_NAME and SPRING_SECURITY_USER_PASSWORD, with the permitted credentials.

Securing the configuration at rest

To avoid a situation where someone with access to the configuration repository can steal sensitive information, such as passwords, the config server supports the encryption of configuration information when stored on disk. The config server supports the use of both symmetric and asymmetric keys. Asymmetric keys are more secure but harder to manage.

In this chapter, we will use a symmetric key. The symmetric key is given to the config server at startup by specifying an environment variable, ENCRYPT_KEY. The encrypted key is just a plain text string that needs to be protected in the same way as any sensitive information.

To learn more about the use of asymmetric keys, see https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-config/docs/3.0.2/reference/html/#_key_management.

Introducing the config server API

The config server exposes a REST API that can be used by its clients to retrieve their configuration. In this chapter, we will use the following endpoints in the API:

  • /actuator: The standard actuator endpoint exposed by all microservices.As always, these should be used with care. They are very useful during development but must be locked down before being used in production.
  • /encrypt and /decrypt: Endpoints for encrypting and decrypting sensitive information. These must also be locked down before being used in production.
  • /{microservice}/{profile}: Returns the configuration for the specified microservice and the specified Spring profile.

We will see some sample uses for the API when we try out the config server.

Setting up a config server

Setting up a config server on the basis of the decisions discussed is straightforward:

  1. Create a Spring Boot project using Spring Initializr, as described in Chapter 3, Creating a Set of Cooperating Microservices. Refer to the Using Spring Initializr to generate skeleton code section.
  2. Add the dependencies, spring-cloud-config-server and spring-boot-starter-security, to the Gradle build file, build.gradle.
  3. Add the annotation @EnableConfigServer to the application class, ConfigServerApplication:
    @EnableConfigServer
    @SpringBootApplication
    public class ConfigServerApplication {
    
  4. Add the configuration for the config server to the default property file, application.yml:
    server.port: 8888
    
    spring.cloud.config.server.native.searchLocations: file:${PWD}/config-repo
    
    management.endpoint.health.show-details: "ALWAYS"
    management.endpoints.web.exposure.include: "*"
    
    logging:
      level:
        root: info
    
    ---
    spring.config.activate.on-profile: docker
    spring.cloud.config.server.native.searchLocations: file:/config-repo
    

    The most important configuration is to specify where to find the configuration repository, indicated using the spring.cloud.config.server.native.searchLocations property.

  5. Add a routing rule to the edge server to make the API of the config server accessible from outside the microservice landscape.
  6. Add a Dockerfile and a definition of the config server to the three Docker Compose files.
  7. Externalize sensitive configuration parameters to the standard Docker Compose environment file, .env. The parameters are described below, in the Configuring the config server for use with Docker section.
  8. Add the config server to the common build file, settings.gradle:
    include ':spring-cloud:config-server'
    

The source code for the Spring Cloud Configuration server can be found in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12/spring-cloud/config-server.

Now, let's look into how to set up the routing rule referred to in step 5 and how to configure the config server added in Docker Compose, as described in steps 6 and 7.

Setting up a routing rule in the edge server

To be able to access the API of the config server from outside the microservice landscape, we add a routing rule to the edge server. All requests to the edge server that begin with /config will be routed to the config server with the following routing rule:

 - id: config-server
   uri: http://${app.config-server}:8888
  predicates:
  - Path=/config/**
  filters:
  - RewritePath=/config/(?<segment>.*), /$\{segment}

The RewritePath filter in the routing rule will remove the leading part, /config, from the incoming URL before it sends it to the config server.

The edge server is also configured to permit all requests to the config server, delegating the security checks to the config server. The following line is added to the SecurityConfig class in the edge server:

  .pathMatchers("/config/**").permitAll()

With this routing rule in place, we can use the API of the config server; for example, run the following command to ask for the configuration of the product service when it uses the docker Spring profile:

curl https://dev-usr:dev-pwd@localhost:8443/config/product/docker -ks | jq

We will run this command when we try out the config server later on.

Configuring the config server for use with Docker

The Dockerfile of the config server looks the same as for the other microservices, except for the fact that it exposes port 8888 instead of port 8080.

When it comes to adding the config server to the Docker Compose files, it looks a bit different from what we have seen for the other microservices:

config-server:
  build: spring-cloud/config-server
  mem_limit: 512m
  environment:
    - SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=docker,native
    - ENCRYPT_KEY=${CONFIG_SERVER_ENCRYPT_KEY}
    - SPRING_SECURITY_USER_NAME=${CONFIG_SERVER_USR}
    - SPRING_SECURITY_USER_PASSWORD=${CONFIG_SERVER_PWD}
  volumes:
    - $PWD/config-repo:/config-repo

Here are the explanations for the preceding source code:

  1. The Spring profile, native, is added to signal to the config server that the config repository is based on local files
  2. The environment variable ENCRYPT_KEY is used to specify the symmetric encryption key that will be used by the config server to encrypt and decrypt sensitive configuration information
  3. The environment variables SPRING_SECURITY_USER_NAME and SPRING_SECURITY_USER_PASSWORD are used to specify the credentials to be used for protecting the APIs using basic HTTP authentication
  4. The volume declaration will make the config-repo folder accessible in the Docker container at /config-repo

The values of the three preceding environment variables, marked in the Docker Compose file with ${...}, are fetched by Docker Compose from the .env file:

CONFIG_SERVER_ENCRYPT_KEY=my-very-secure-encrypt-key
CONFIG_SERVER_USR=dev-usr
CONFIG_SERVER_PWD=dev-pwd

The information stored in the .env file, that is, the username, password, and encryption key, is sensitive and must be protected if used for something other than development and testing. Also, note that losing the encryption key will lead to a situation where the encrypted information in the config repository cannot be decrypted!

Configuring clients of a config server

To be able to get their configurations from the config server, our microservices need to be updated. This can be done with the following steps:

  1. Add the spring-cloud-starter-config and spring-retry dependencies to the Gradle build file, build.gradle.
  2. Move the configuration file, application.yml, to the config repository and rename it with the name of the client as specified by the property spring.application.name.
  3. Add a new application.yml file to the src/main/resources folder. This file will be used to hold the configuration required to connect to the config server. Refer to the following Configuring connection information section for an explanation of its content.
  4. Add credentials for accessing the config server to the Docker Compose files, for example, the product service:
    product:
      environment:
     - CONFIG_SERVER_USR=${CONFIG_SERVER_USR}
     - CONFIG_SERVER_PWD=${CONFIG_SERVER_PWD}
    
  5. Disable the use of the config server when running Spring Boot-based automated tests. This is done by adding spring.cloud.config.enabled=false to the @DataMongoTest, @DataJpaTest, and @SpringBootTest annotations. They look like:
    @DataMongoTest(properties = {"spring.cloud.config.enabled=false"})
    
    @DataJpaTest(properties = {"spring.cloud.config.enabled=false"})
    
    @SpringBootTest(webEnvironment=RANDOM_PORT, properties = {"eureka.client.enabled=false", "spring.cloud.config.enabled=false"})
    

Starting with Spring Boot 2.4.0, the processing of multiple property files has changed rather radically. The most important changes, applied in this book, are:

  • The order in which property files are loaded. Starting with Spring Boot 2.4.0, they are loaded in the order that they're defined.
  • How property override works. Starting with Spring Boot 2.4.0, properties declared lower in a file will override those higher up.
  • A new mechanism for loading additional property files, for example, property files from a config server, has been added. Starting with Spring Boot 2.4.0, the property spring.config.import can be used as a common mechanism for loading additional property files.

For more information and the reasons for making these changes, see https://spring.io/blog/2020/08/14/config-file-processing-in-spring-boot-2-4.

Spring Cloud Config v3.0.0, included in Spring Cloud 2020.0.0, supports the new mechanism for loading property files in Spring Boot 2.4.0. This is now the default mechanism for importing property files from a config repository. This means that the Spring Cloud Config-specific bootstrap.yml files are replaced by standard application.yml files, using a spring.config.import property to specify that additional configuration files will be imported from a config server. It is still possible to use the legacy bootstrap way of importing property files; for details, see https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-config/docs/3.0.2/reference/html/#config-data-import.

Configuring connection information

As mentioned previously, the src/main/resources/application.yml file now holds the client configuration that is required to connect to the config server. This file has the same content for all clients of the config server, except for the application name as specified by the spring.application.name property (in the following example, set to product):

spring.config.import: "configserver:"

spring:
  application.name: product
  cloud.config:
    failFast: true
    retry:
      initialInterval: 3000
      multiplier: 1.3
      maxInterval: 10000
      maxAttempts: 20
    uri: http://localhost:8888
    username: ${CONFIG_SERVER_USR}
    password: ${CONFIG_SERVER_PWD}

---
spring.config.activate.on-profile: docker

spring.cloud.config.uri: http://config-server:8888

This configuration will make the client do the following:

  1. Connect to the config server using the http://localhost:8888 URL when it runs outside Docker, and using the http://config-server:8888 URL when running in a Docker container
  2. Use HTTP Basic authentication, based on the value of the CONFIG_SERVER_USR and CONFIG_SERVER_PWD properties, as the client's username and password
  3. Try to reconnect to the config server during startup up to 20 times, if required
  4. If the connection attempt fails, the client will initially wait for 3 seconds before trying to reconnect
  5. The wait time for subsequent retries will increase by a factor of 1.3
  6. The maximum wait time between connection attempts will be 10 seconds
  7. If the client can't connect to the config server after 20 attempts, its startup will fail

This configuration is generally good for resilience against temporary connectivity problems with the config server. It is especially useful when the whole landscape of microservices and its config server are started up at once, for example, when using the docker-compose up command. In this scenario, many of the clients will be trying to connect to the config server before it is ready, and the retry logic will make the clients connect to the config server successfully once it is up and running.

Structuring the configuration repository

After moving the configuration files from each client's source code to the configuration repository, we will have some common configuration in many of the configuration files, for example, for the configuration of actuator endpoints and how to connect to Eureka, RabbitMQ, and Kafka. The common parts have been placed in a common configuration file named application.yml. This file is shared by all clients. The configuration repository contains the following files:

config-repo/
├── application.yml
├── auth-server.yml
├── eureka-server.yml
├── gateway.yml
├── product-composite.yml
├── product.yml
├── recommendation.yml
└── review.yml

The configuration repository can be found in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12/config-repo.

Trying out the Spring Cloud Configuration server

Now it is time to try out the config server:

  1. First, we will build from source and run the test script to ensure that everything fits together
  2. Next, we will try out the config server API to retrieve the configuration for our microservices
  3. Finally, we will see how we can encrypt and decrypt sensitive information, for example, passwords

Building and running automated tests

So now we build and run verification tests of the system landscape, as follows:

  1. First, build the Docker images with the following commands:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12
    ./gradlew build && docker-compose build
    
  2. Next, start the system landscape in Docker and run the usual tests with the following command:
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    

Getting the configuration using the config server API

As already described previously, we can reach the API of the config server through the edge server by using the URL prefix, /config. We also have to supply credentials as specified in the .env file for HTTP Basic authentication. For example, to retrieve the configuration used for the product service when it runs as a Docker container, that is, having activated the Spring profile docker, run the following command:

curl https://dev-usr:dev-pwd@localhost:8443/config/product/docker -ks | jq .

Expect a response with the following structure (many of the properties in the response are replaced by ... to increase readability):

{
  "name": "product",
  "profiles": [
    "docker"
  ],
  ...
  "propertySources": [
    {
      "name": "...file [/config-repo/product.yml]...",
      "source": {
        "spring.config.activate.on-profile": "docker",
        "server.port": 8080,
        ...
      }
    },
    {
      "name": "...file [/config-repo/product.yml]...",
      "source": {
        "server.port": 7001,
        ...
      }
    },
    {
      "name": "...file [/config-repo/application.yml]...",
      "source": {
        "spring.config.activate.on-profile": "docker",
        ...
      }
    },
    {
      "name": "...file [/config-repo/application.yml]...",
      "source": {
        ...
        "app.eureka-password": "p",
        "spring.rabbitmq.password": "guest"
      }
    }
  ]
}

The explanations for this response are as follows:

  • The response contains properties from a number of property sources, one per property file and Spring profile that matched the API request. The property sources are returned in priority order; if a property is specified in multiple property sources, the first property in the response takes precedence. The preceding sample response contains the following property sources, in the following priority order:
    • /config-repo/product.yml, for the docker Spring profile
    • /config-repo/product.yml, for the default Spring profile
    • /config-repo/application.yml, for the docker Spring profile
    • /config-repo/application.yml, for the default Spring profile

    For example, the port used will be 8080 and not 7001, since "server.port": 8080 is specified before "server.port": 7001 in the preceding response.

  • Sensitive information, such as the passwords to Eureka and RabbitMQ, are returned in plain text, for example, "p" and "guest", but they are encrypted on disk. In the configuration file, application.yml, they are specified as follows:
    app:
      eureka-password:
    '{cipher}bf298f6d5f878b342f9e44bec08cb9ac00b4ce57e98316f030194a225 fac89fb'
    spring.rabbitmq:
      password: '{cipher}17fcf0ae5b8c5cf87de6875b699be4a1746dd493a99d926c7a26a68c422117ef'
    

Encrypting and decrypting sensitive information

Information can be encrypted and decrypted using the /encrypt and /decrypt endpoints exposed by the config server. The /encrypt endpoint can be used to create encrypted values to be placed in the property file in the config repository. Refer to the example in the previous section, where the passwords to Eureka and RabbitMQ are stored encrypted on disk. The /decrypt endpoint can be used to verify encrypted information that is stored on disk in the config repository.

To encrypt the hello world string, run the following command:

curl -k https://dev-usr:dev-pwd@localhost:8443/config/encrypt --data-urlencode "hello world"

It is important to use the --data-urlencode flag when using curl to call the /encrypt endpoint, to ensure the correct handling of special characters such as '+'.

Expect a response along the lines of the following:

Figure 12.2: An encrypted value of a configuration parameter

To decrypt the encrypted value, run the following command:

curl -k https://dev-usr:dev-pwd@localhost:8443/config/decrypt -d 9eca39e823957f37f0f0f4d8b2c6c46cd49ef461d1cab20c65710823a8b412ce

Expect the hello world string as the response:

Figure 12.3: A decrypted value of a configuration parameter

If you want to use an encrypted value in a configuration file, you need to prefix it with {cipher} and wrap it in ''. For example, to store the encrypted version of hello world, add the following line in a YAML-based configuration file:

my-secret:  '{cipher}9eca39e823957f37f0f0f4d8b2c6c46cd49ef461d1cab20c65710823a8b412ce'

When the config server detects values in the format '{cipher}...', it tries to decrypt them using its encryption key before sending them to a client.

These tests conclude the chapter on centralized configuration. Wrap it up by shutting down the system landscape:

docker-compose down

Summary

In this chapter, we have seen how we can use the Spring Cloud Configuration Server to centralize managing the configuration of our microservices. We can place the configuration files in a common configuration repository and share common configurations in a single configuration file, while keeping microservice-specific configuration in microservice-specific configuration files. The microservices have been updated to retrieve their configuration from the config server at startup and are configured to handle temporary outages while retrieving their configuration from the config server.

The config server can protect configuration information by requiring authenticated usage of its API with HTTP Basic authentication and can prevent eavesdropping by exposing its API externally through the edge server that uses HTTPS. To prevent intruders who obtained access to the configuration files on disk from gaining access to sensitive information such as passwords, we can use the config server /encrypt endpoint to encrypt the information and store it encrypted on disk.

While exposing the APIs from the config server externally is useful during development, they should be locked down before use in production.

In the next chapter, we will learn how we can use Resilience4j to mitigate the potential drawbacks of overusing synchronous communication between microservices.

Questions

  1. What API call can we expect from a review service to the config server during startup to retrieve its configuration?
  2. The review service was started up using the following command: docker compose up -d.

    What configuration information should we expect back from an API call to the config server using the following command?

    curl https://dev-usr:dev-pwd@localhost:8443/config/application/default -ks | jq 
    
  3. What types of repository backend does Spring Cloud Config support?
  4. How can we encrypt sensitive information on disk using Spring Cloud Config?
  5. How can we protect the config server API from misuse?
  6. Mention some pros and cons for clients that first connect to the config server as opposed to those that first connect to the discovery server.
 

Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j

In this chapter, we will learn how to use Resilience4j to make our microservices more resilient, that is, how to mitigate and recover from errors. As we already discussed in Chapter 1, Introduction to Microservices, in the Circuit breaker section, and Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud, in the Using Resilience4j for improved resilience section, a circuit breaker can be used to minimize the damage that a slow or unresponsive downstream microservice can cause in a large-scale system landscape of synchronously communicating microservices. We will see how the circuit breaker in Resilience4j can be used together with a time limiter and retry mechanism to prevent two of the most common error situations:

  • Microservices that start to respond slowly or not at all
  • Requests that randomly fail from time to time, for example, due to temporary network problems

The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • Introducing the three Resilience4j mechanisms: circuit breaker, time limiter, and retry
  • Adding the mechanisms to the source code
  • Trying out the mechanisms when deployed in the system landscape

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install the tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book, see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter13.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to add resilience using Resilience4j, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 12, Centralized Configuration. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter12 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter13.

Introducing the Resilience4j resilience mechanisms

The circuit breaker, time limiter, and retry mechanisms are potentially useful in any synchronous communication between two software components, for example, microservices. In this chapter, we will apply these mechanisms in one place, in calls from the product-composite service to the product service. This is illustrated in the following figure:

Figure 13.1: Adding resilience capabilities to the system landscape

Note that the synchronous calls to the discovery and config servers from the other microservices are not shown in the preceding diagram (to make it easier to read).

Recently, Spring Cloud added a project, Spring Cloud Circuit Breaker, that provides an abstraction layer for circuit breakers. Resilience4j can be configured to be used under the hood. This project does not provide other resilience mechanisms such as retries, time limiters, bulkheads, or rate limiters in an integrated way as the Resilience4j project does. For more information on the project, see https://spring.io/projects/spring-cloud-circuitbreaker.

A number of other alternatives exist as well. For example, the Reactor project comes with built-in support for retries and timeouts; see Mono.retryWhen() and Mono.timeout(). Spring also has a retry mechanism (see https://github.com/spring-projects/spring-retry), but it does not support a reactive programming model.

However, none of the alternatives provide such a cohesive and well-integrated approach to providing a set of resilience mechanisms as Resilience4j does, specifically, in a Spring Boot environment, where dependencies, annotations, and configuration are used in an elegant and consistent way. Finally, it is worth noting that the Resilience4j annotations work independently of the programming style used, be it reactive or imperative.

Introducing the circuit breaker

Let's quickly revisit the state diagram for a circuit breaker from Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud, in the Using Resilience4j for improved resilience section:

Figure 13.2: Circuit breaker state diagram

The key features of a circuit breaker are as follows:

  • If a circuit breaker detects too many faults, it will open its circuit, that is, not allow new calls.
  • When the circuit is open, a circuit breaker will perform fail-fast logic. This means that it doesn't wait for a new fault, for example, a timeout, to happen on subsequent calls. Instead, it directly redirects the call to a fallback method. The fallback method can apply various business logic to produce a best-effort response. For example, a fallback method can return data from a local cache or simply return an immediate error message. This will prevent a microservice from becoming unresponsive if the services it depends on stop responding normally. This is specifically useful under high load.
  • After a while, the circuit breaker will be half-open, allowing new calls to see whether the issue that caused the failures is gone. If new failures are detected by the circuit breaker, it will open the circuit again and go back to the fail-fast logic. Otherwise, it will close the circuit and go back to normal operation. This makes a microservice resilient to faults, or self-healing, a capability that is indispensable in a system landscape of microservices that communicate synchronously with each other.

Resilience4j exposes information about circuit breakers at runtime in a number of ways:

  • The current state of a circuit breaker can be monitored using the microservice's actuator health endpoint, /actuator/health.
  • The circuit breaker also publishes events on an actuator endpoint, for example, state transitions, /actuator/circuitbreakerevents.
  • Finally, circuit breakers are integrated with Spring Boot's metrics system and can use it to publish metrics to monitoring tools such as Prometheus.

We will try out the health and event endpoints in this chapter. In Chapter 20, Monitoring Microservices, we will see Prometheus in action and how it can collect metrics that are exposed by Spring Boot, for example, metrics from our circuit breaker.

To control the logic in a circuit breaker, Resilience4j can be configured using standard Spring Boot configuration files. We will use the following configuration parameters:

  • slidingWindowType: To determine if a circuit breaker needs to be opened, Resilience4j uses a sliding window, counting the most recent events to make the decision. The sliding windows can either be based on a fixed number of calls or a fixed elapsed time. This parameter is used to configure what type of sliding window is used.

    We will use a count-based sliding window, setting this parameter to COUNT_BASED.

  • slidingWindowSize: The number of calls in a closed state that are used to determine whether the circuit should be opened.

    We will set this parameter to 5.

  • failureRateThreshold: The threshold, in percent, for failed calls that will cause the circuit to be opened.

    We will set this parameter to 50%. This setting, together with slidingWindowSize set to 5, means that if three or more of the last five calls are faults, then the circuit will open.

  • automaticTransitionFromOpenToHalfOpenEnabled: Determines whether the circuit breaker will automatically transition to the half-open state once the waiting period is over. Otherwise, it will wait for the first call after the waiting period is over until it transitions to the half-open state.

    We will set this parameter to true.

  • waitDurationInOpenState: Specifies how long the circuit stays in an open state, that is, before it transitions to the half-open state.

    We will set this parameter to 10000 ms. This setting, together with enabling automatic transition to the half-open state, set by the previous parameter, means that the circuit breaker will keep the circuit open for 10 seconds and then transition to the half-open state.

  • permittedNumberOfCallsInHalfOpenState: The number of calls in the half-open state that are used to determine whether the circuit will be opened again or go back to the normal, closed state.

    We will set this parameter to 3, meaning that the circuit breaker will decide whether the circuit will be opened or closed based on the first three calls after the circuit has transitioned to the half-open state. Since the failureRateThreshold parameters are set to 50%, the circuit will be open again if two or all three calls fail. Otherwise, the circuit will be closed.

  • ignoreExceptions: This can be used to specify exceptions that should not be counted as faults. Expected business exceptions such as not found or invalid input are typical exceptions that the circuit breaker should ignore; users who search for non-existing data or enter invalid input should not cause the circuit to open.

    We will set this parameter to a list containing the exceptions NotFoundException and InvalidInputException.

Finally, to configure Resilience4j to report the state of the circuit breaker in the actuator health endpoint in a correct way, the following parameters are set:

  • registerHealthIndicator = true enables Resilience4j to fill in the health endpoint with information regarding the state of its circuit breakers.
  • allowHealthIndicatorToFail = false tells Resilience4j not to affect the status of the health endpoint. This means that the health endpoint will still report "UP" even if one of the component's circuit breakers is in an open or half-open state. It is very important that the health state of the component is not reported as "DOWN" just because one of its circuit breakers is not in a closed state. This means that the component is still considered to be OK, even though one of the components it depends on is not.

    This is actually the core value of a circuit breaker, so setting this value to true would more or less spoil the value of bringing in a circuit breaker. In earlier versions of Resilience4j, this was actually the behavior. In more recent versions, this has been corrected and false is actually the default value for this parameter. But since I consider it very important to understand the relation between the health state of the component and the state of its circuit breakers, I have added it to the configuration.

  • Finally, we must also configure Spring Boot Actuator to add the circuit breaker health information that Resilience4j produces in the response to a request to its health endpoint:
    management.health.circuitbreakers.enabled: true
    

For a full list of available configuration parameters, see https://resilience4j.readme.io/docs/circuitbreaker#create-and-configure-a-circuitbreaker.

Introducing the time limiter

To help a circuit breaker handle slow or unresponsive services, a timeout mechanism can be helpful. Resilience4j's timeout mechanism, called a TimeLimiter, can be configured using standard Spring Boot configuration files. We will use the following configuration parameter:

  • timeoutDuration: Specifies how long a TimeLimiter instance waits for a call to complete before it throws a timeout exception. We will set it to 2s.

Introducing the retry mechanism

The retry mechanism is very useful for random and infrequent faults, such as temporary network glitches. The retry mechanism can simply retry a failed request a number of times with a configurable delay between the attempts. One very important restriction on the use of the retry mechanism is that the services that it retries must be idempotent, that is, calling the service one or many times with the same request parameters gives the same result. For example, reading information is idempotent, but creating information is typically not. You don't want a retry mechanism to accidentally create two orders just because the response from the first order's creation got lost in the network.

Resilience4j exposes retry information in the same way as it does for circuit breakers when it comes to events and metrics, but does not provide any health information. Retry events are accessible on the actuator endpoint, /actuator/retryevents. To control the retry logic, Resilience4j can be configured using standard Spring Boot configuration files. We will use the following configuration parameters:

  • maxAttempts: The number of attempts before giving up, including the first call. We will set this parameter to 3, allowing a maximum of two retry attempts after an initial failed call.
  • waitDuration: The wait time before the next retry attempt. We will set this value to 1000 ms, meaning that we will wait 1 second between retries.
  • retryExceptions: A list of exceptions that will trigger a retry. We will only trigger retries on InternalServerError exceptions, that is, when HTTP requests respond with a 500 status code.

Be careful when configuring retry and circuit breaker settings so that, for example, the circuit breaker doesn't open the circuit before the intended number of retries have been completed!

For a full list of available configuration parameters, see https://resilience4j.readme.io/docs/retry#create-and-configure-retry.

With this introduction, we are ready to see how to add these resilience mechanisms to the source code in the product-composite service.

Adding the resilience mechanisms to the source code

Before we add the resilience mechanisms to the source code, we will add code that makes it possible to force an error to occur, either as a delay and/or as a random fault. Next, we will add a circuit breaker together with a time limiter to handle slow or unresponsive APIs, as well as a retry mechanism that can handle faults that happen randomly. Adding these features from Resilience4j follows the Spring Boot way, which we have been using in the previous chapters:

  • Add a starter dependency on Resilience4j in the build file
  • Add annotations in the source code where the resilience mechanisms will be applied
  • Add configuration that controls the behavior of the resilience mechanisms

Handling resilience challenges is a responsibility for the integration layer; therefore, the resilience mechanisms will be placed in the ProductCompositeIntegration class. The source code in the business logic, implemented in the ProductCompositeServiceImpl class, will not be aware of the presence of the resilience mechanisms.

Once we have the mechanisms in place, we will finally extend our test script, test-em-all.bash, with tests that automatically verify that the circuit breaker works as expected when deployed in the system landscape.

Adding programmable delays and random errors

To be able to test our resilience mechanisms, we need a way to control when errors happen. A simple way to achieve this is by adding optional query parameters in the API used to retrieve a product and a composite product.

The code and API parameters added in this section to force delays and errors to occur should only be used during development and tests, not in production. When we learn about the concept of a service mesh in Chapter 18, Using a Service Mesh to Improve Observability and Management, we will learn about better methods that can be used in production to introduce delays and errors in a controlled way. Using a service mesh, we can introduce delays and errors, typically used for verifying resilience capabilities, without affecting the source code of the microservices.

The composite product API will simply pass on the parameters to the product API. The following query parameters have been added to the two APIs:

  • delay: Causes the getProduct API on the product microservice to delay its response. The parameter is specified in seconds. For example, if the parameter is set to 3, it will cause a delay of three seconds before the response is returned.
  • faultPercentage: Causes the getProduct API on the product microservice to throw an exception randomly with the probability specified by the query parameter, from 0 to 100%. For example, if the parameter is set to 25, it will cause every fourth call to the API, on average, to fail with an exception. It will return an HTTP error 500 (Internal Server Error) in these cases.

Changes in the API definitions

The two query parameters that we introduced above, delay and faultPercentage, have been defined in the api project in the following two Java interfaces:

  • ProductCompositeService:
    Mono<ProductAggregate> getProduct(
        @PathVariable int productId,
        @RequestParam(value = "delay", required = false, defaultValue =
        "0") int delay,
        @RequestParam(value = "faultPercent", required = false, 
        defaultValue = "0") int faultPercent
    );
    
  • ProductService:
    Mono<Product> getProduct(
         @PathVariable int productId,
         @RequestParam(value = "delay", required = false, defaultValue
         = "0") int delay,
         @RequestParam(value = "faultPercent", required = false, 
         defaultValue = "0") int faultPercent
    );
    

The query parameters are declared optional with default values that disable the use of the error mechanisms. This means that if none of the query parameters are used in a request, neither a delay will be applied nor an error thrown.

Changes in the product-composite microservice

The product-composite microservice simply passes the parameters to the product API. The service implementation receives the API request and passes on the parameters to the integration component that makes the call to the product API:

  • The call from the ProductCompositeServiceImpl class to the integration component looks like this:
    public Mono<ProductAggregate> getProduct(int productId,
      int delay, int faultPercent) {
        return Mono.zip(
            ...
            integration.getProduct(productId, delay, faultPercent),
            ....
    
  • The call from the ProductCompositeIntegration class to the product API looks like this:
    public Mono<Product> getProduct(int productId, int delay, 
      int faultPercent) {
      
        URI url = UriComponentsBuilder.fromUriString(
          PRODUCT_SERVICE_URL + "/product/{productId}?delay={delay}" 
          + "&faultPercent={faultPercent}")
          .build(productId, delay, faultPercent);
      return webClient.get().uri(url).retrieve()...
    

Changes in the product microservice

The product microservice implements the actual delay and random error generator in the ProductServiceImpl class by extending the existing stream used to read product information from the MongoDB database. It looks like this:

public Mono<Product> getProduct(int productId, int delay, 
  int faultPercent) {

  ...
  return repository.findByProductId(productId)
    .map(e -> throwErrorIfBadLuck(e, faultPercent))
    .delayElement(Duration.ofSeconds(delay))
    ...
}

When the stream returns a response from the Spring Data repository, it first applies the throwErrorIfBadLuck method to see whether an exception needs to be thrown. Next, it applies a delay using the delayElement function in the Mono class.

The random error generator, throwErrorIfBadLuck(), creates a random number between 1 and 100 and throws an exception if it is higher than, or equal to, the specified fault percentage. If no exception is thrown, the product entity is passed on in the stream. The source code looks like this:

private ProductEntity throwErrorIfBadLuck(
  ProductEntity entity, int faultPercent) {

  if (faultPercent == 0) {
    return entity;
  }

  int randomThreshold = getRandomNumber(1, 100);

  if (faultPercent < randomThreshold) {
    LOG.debug("We got lucky, no error occurred, {} < {}", 
      faultPercent, randomThreshold);
  
  } else {
    LOG.debug("Bad luck, an error occurred, {} >= {}",
      faultPercent, randomThreshold);
  
    throw new RuntimeException("Something went wrong...");
  }

  return entity;
}

private final Random randomNumberGenerator = new Random();

private int getRandomNumber(int min, int max) {

  if (max < min) {
    throw new IllegalArgumentException("Max must be greater than min");
  }

  return randomNumberGenerator.nextInt((max - min) + 1) + min;
}

With the programmable delays and random error functions in place, we are ready to start adding the resilience mechanisms to the code. We will start with the circuit breaker and the time limiter.

Adding a circuit breaker and a time limiter

As we mentioned previously, we need to add dependencies, annotations, and configuration. We also need to add some code for implementing fallback logic for fail-fast scenarios. We will see how to do this in the following sections.

Adding dependencies to the build file

To add a circuit breaker and a time limiter, we have to add dependencies to the appropriate Resilience4j libraries in the build file, build.gradle. From the product documentation (https://resilience4j.readme.io/docs/getting-started-3#setup), we can learn that the following three dependencies need to be added. We will use the latest available version, v1.7.0, when this chapter was written:

ext {
   resilience4jVersion = "1.7.0"
}
dependencies {
    implementation "io.github.resilience4j:resilience4j-spring-
boot2:${resilience4jVersion}"
    implementation "io.github.resilience4j:resilience4j-reactor:${resilience4jVersion}"
    implementation 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-aop'
    ...

To avoid Spring Cloud overriding the version used with the older version of Resilience4j that it bundles, we have to list all the sub-projects we also want to use and specify which version to use. We add this extra dependency in the dependencyManagement section to highlight that this is a workaround caused by the Spring Cloud dependency management:

dependencyManagement {
    imports {
        mavenBom "org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-dependencies:${springCloudVersion}"
    }
    dependencies {
        dependency "io.github.resilience4j:resilience4j-spring:${resilience4jVersion}" 
        ...
    }
}

Adding annotations in the source code

The circuit breaker can be applied by annotating the method it is expected to protect with @CircuitBreaker(...), which in this case is the getProduct() method in the ProductCompositeIntegration class. The circuit breaker is triggered by an exception, not by a timeout itself. To be able to trigger the circuit breaker after a timeout, we will add a time limiter that can be applied with the annotation @TimeLimiter(...). The source code looks as follows:

@TimeLimiter(name = "product")
@CircuitBreaker(
     name = "product", fallbackMethod = "getProductFallbackValue")

public Mono<Product> getProduct(
  int productId, int delay, int faultPercent) {
  ...
}

The name of the circuit breaker and the time limiter annotation, "product", is used to identify the configuration that will be applied. The fallbackMethod parameter in the circuit breaker annotation is used to specify what fallback method to call, getProductFallbackValue in this case, when the circuit breaker is open; see below for information on how it is used.

To activate the circuit breaker, the annotated method must be invoked as a Spring bean. In our case, it's the integration class that's injected by Spring into the service implementation class, ProductCompositeServiceImpl, and therefore used as a Spring bean:

private final ProductCompositeIntegration integration;

@Autowired
public ProductCompositeServiceImpl(... ProductCompositeIntegration integration) {
  this.integration = integration;
}

public Mono<ProductAggregate> getProduct(int productId, int delay, int faultPercent) {
  return Mono.zip(
    ..., 
    integration.getProduct(productId, delay, faultPercent), 
    ...

Adding fail-fast fallback logic

To be able to apply fallback logic when the circuit breaker is open, that is, when a request fails fast, we can specify a fallback method on the CircuitBreaker annotation as seen in the previous source code. The method must follow the signature of the method the circuit breaker is applied for and also have an extra last argument used for passing the exception that triggered the circuit breaker. In our case, the method signature for the fallback method looks like this:

private Mono<Product> getProductFallbackValue(int productId, 
  int delay, int faultPercent, CallNotPermittedException ex) {

The last parameter specifies that we want to be able to handle exceptions of type CallNotPermittedException. We are only interested in exceptions that are thrown when the circuit breaker is in its open state, so that we can apply fail-fast logic. When the circuit breaker is open, it will not permit calls to the underlying method; instead, it will immediately throw a CallNotPermittedException exception. Therefore, we are only interested in catching CallNotPermittedException exceptions.

The fallback logic can look up information based on the productId from alternative sources, for example, an internal cache. In our case, we will return hardcoded values based on the productId, to simulate a hit in a cache. To simulate a miss in the cache, we will throw a not found exception in the case where the productId is 13. The implementation of the fallback method looks like this:

private Mono<Product> getProductFallbackValue(int productId, 
  int delay, int faultPercent, CallNotPermittedException ex) {

  if (productId == 13) {
    String errMsg = "Product Id: " + productId 
      + " not found in fallback cache!";
    throw new NotFoundException(errMsg);
  }

  return Mono.just(new Product(productId, "Fallback product" 
    + productId, productId, serviceUtil.getServiceAddress()));
}

Adding configuration

Finally, the configuration of the circuit breaker and time limiter is added to the product-composite.yml file in the config repository, as follows:

resilience4j.timelimiter:
  instances:
    product:
      timeoutDuration: 2s

management.health.circuitbreakers.enabled: true

resilience4j.circuitbreaker:
  instances:
    product:
      allowHealthIndicatorToFail: false
      registerHealthIndicator: true
      slidingWindowType: COUNT_BASED
      slidingWindowSize: 5
      failureRateThreshold: 50
      waitDurationInOpenState: 10000
      permittedNumberOfCallsInHalfOpenState: 3
      automaticTransitionFromOpenToHalfOpenEnabled: true
      ignoreExceptions:
        - se.magnus.api.exceptions.InvalidInputException
        - se.magnus.api.exceptions.NotFoundException

The values in the configuration have already been described in the previous sections, Introducing the circuit breaker and Introducing the time limiter.

Adding a retry mechanism

In the same way as for the circuit breaker, a retry mechanism is set up by adding dependencies, annotations, and configuration. The dependencies were added previously in the Adding dependencies to the build file section, so we only need to add the annotation and set up the configuration.

Adding the retry annotation

The retry mechanism can be applied to a method by annotating it with @Retry(name="nnn"), where nnn is the name of the configuration entry to be used for this method. See the following Adding configuration section for details on the configuration. The method, in our case, is the same as it is for the circuit breaker and time limiter, getProduct() in the ProductCompositeIntegration class:

  @Retry(name = "product")
  @TimeLimiter(name = "product")
  @CircuitBreaker(name = "product", fallbackMethod =
    "getProductFallbackValue")
  public Mono<Product> getProduct(int productId, int delay, 
    int faultPercent) {

Adding configuration

Configuration for the retry mechanism is added in the same way as for the circuit breaker and time limiter in the product-composite.yml file in the config repository, like so:

resilience4j.retry:
  instances:
    product:
      maxAttempts: 3
      waitDuration: 1000
      retryExceptions:
      - org.springframework.web.reactive.function.client.WebClientResponseException$InternalServerError

The actual values were discussed in the Introducing the retry mechanism section above.

That is all the dependencies, annotations, source code, and configuration required. Let's wrap up by extending the test script with tests that verify that the circuit breaker works as expected in a deployed system landscape.

Adding automated tests

Automated tests for the circuit breaker have been added to the test-em-all.bash test script in a separate function, testCircuitBreaker():

...
function testCircuitBreaker() {
    echo "Start Circuit Breaker tests!"
    ...
}
...
testCircuitBreaker
...
echo "End, all tests OK:" `date`

To be able to perform some of the required verifications, we need to have access to the actuator endpoints of the product-composite microservice, which are not exposed through the edge server. Therefore, we will access the actuator endpoints by running a command in the product-composite microservice using the Docker Compose exec command. The base image used by the microservices, adoptopenjdk, bundles curl, so we can simply run a curl command in the product-composite container to get the information required. The command looks like this:

docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health

The -T argument is used to disable the use of a terminal for the exec command. This is important to make it possible to run the test-em-all.bash test script in an environment where no terminals exist, for example, in an automated build pipeline used for CI/CD.

To be able to extract the information we need for our tests, we can pipe the output to the jq tool. For example, to extract the actual state of the circuit breaker, we can run the following command:

docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state

It will return either CLOSED, OPEN, or HALF_OPEN, depending on the actual state.

The test starts by doing exactly this, that is, verifying that the circuit breaker is closed before the tests are executed:

assertEqual "CLOSED" "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state)"

Next, the test will force the circuit breaker to open up by running three commands in a row, all of which will fail on a timeout caused by a slow response from the product service (the delay parameter is set to 3 seconds):

for ((n=0; n<3; n++))
do
    assertCurl 500 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS?delay=3 $AUTH -s"
    message=$(echo $RESPONSE | jq -r .message)
    assertEqual "Did not observe any item or terminal signal within 2000ms" "${message:0:57}"
done

A quick reminder of the configuration: The timeout of the product service is set to two seconds so that a delay of three seconds will cause a timeout. The circuit breaker is configured to evaluate the last five calls when closed. The tests in the script that precede the circuit breaker-specific tests have already performed a couple of successful calls. The failure threshold is set to 50%; three calls with a three-second delay are enough to open the circuit. 

With the circuit open, we expect a fail-fast behavior, that is, we won't need to wait for the timeout before we get a response. We also expect the fallback method to be called to return a best-effort response. This should also apply for a normal call, that is, without requesting a delay. This is verified with the following code:

assertEqual "OPEN" "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state)"

assertCurl 200 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS?delay=3 $AUTH -s"
assertEqual "Fallback product$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS" "$(echo "$RESPONSE" | jq -r .name)"

assertCurl 200 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS $AUTH -s"
assertEqual "Fallback product$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS" "$(echo "$RESPONSE" | jq -r .name)"

The product ID 1 is stored in a variable, $PROD_ID_REVS_RECS, to make it easier to modify the script if required.

We can also verify that the simulated not found error logic works as expected in the fallback method, that is, the fallback method returns 404, NOT_FOUND for product ID 13:

assertCurl 404 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_NOT_FOUND $AUTH -s"
assertEqual "Product Id: $PROD_ID_NOT_FOUND not found in fallback cache!" "$(echo $RESPONSE | jq -r .message)"

The product ID 13 is stored in a variable, $PROD_ID_NOT_FOUND.

As configured, the circuit breaker will change its state to half-open after 10 seconds. To be able to verify that, the test waits for 10 seconds:

echo "Will sleep for 10 sec waiting for the CB to go Half Open..."
sleep 10

After verifying the expected state (half-open), the test runs three normal requests to make the circuit breaker go back to its normal state, which is also verified:

assertEqual "HALF_OPEN" "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state)"

for ((n=0; n<3; n++))
do
    assertCurl 200 "curl -k https://$HOST:$PORT/product-composite/$PROD_ID_REVS_RECS $AUTH -s"
    assertEqual "product name C" "$(echo "$RESPONSE" | jq -r .name)"
done

assertEqual "CLOSED" "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state)"

The test code also verifies that it got a response with data from the underlying database. It does that by comparing the returned product name with the value stored in the database. For the product with product ID 1, the name is "product name C".

A quick reminder of the configuration: The circuit breaker is configured to evaluate the first three calls when in the half-open state. Therefore, we need to run three requests where more than 50% are successful before the circuit is closed.

The test wraps up by using the /actuator/circuitbreakerevents actuator API, which is exposed by the circuit breaker to reveal internal events. It is used to find out what state transitions the circuit breaker has performed. We expect the last three state transitions to be as follows:

  • First state transition: Closed to open
  • Next state transition: Open to half-open
  • Last state transition: Half-open to closed

This is verified by the following code:

assertEqual "CLOSED_TO_OPEN"      "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/circuitbreakerevents/product/STATE_TRANSITION | jq -r
.circuitBreakerEvents[-3].stateTransition)"

assertEqual "OPEN_TO_HALF_OPEN"   "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/circuitbreakerevents/product/STATE_TRANSITION | jq -r .circuitBreakerEvents[-2].stateTransition)"

assertEqual "HALF_OPEN_TO_CLOSED" "$(docker-compose exec -T product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/circuitbreakerevents/product/STATE_TRANSITION | jq -r .circuitBreakerEvents[-1].stateTransition)"

The jq expression, circuitBreakerEvents[-1], means the last entry in the array of circuit breaker events, [-2] is the second to last event, while [-3] is the third to last event. Together, they are the three latest events, the ones we are interested in.

We added quite a lot of steps to the test script, but with this, we can automatically verify that the expected basic behavior of our circuit breaker is in place. In the next section, we will try it out. We will run tests both automatically by running the test script and manually by running the commands in the test script by hand.

Trying out the circuit breaker and retry mechanism

Now, it's time to try out the circuit breaker and retry mechanism. We will start, as usual, by building the Docker images and running the test script, test-em-all.bash. After that, we will manually run through the tests we described previously to ensure that we understand what's going on! We will perform the following manual tests:

  • Happy days tests of the circuit breaker, to verify that the circuit is closed under normal operations
  • Negative tests of the circuit breaker, to verify that the circuit opens up when things start to go wrong
  • Going back to normal operation, to verify that the circuit goes back to its closed state once the problems are resolved
  • Trying out the retry mechanism with random errors

Building and running the automated tests

To build and run the automated tests, we need to do the following:

  1. First, build the Docker images with the following commands:
    cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter13
    ./gradlew build && docker-compose build
    
  2. Next, start the system landscape in Docker and run the usual tests with the following command:
    ./test-em-all.bash start
    

When the test script prints out Start Circuit Breaker tests!, the tests we described previously have been executed!

Verifying that the circuit is closed under normal operations

Before we can call the API, we need an access token. Run the following commands to acquire an access token:

unset ACCESS_TOKEN
ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://writer:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq -r .access_token)
echo $ACCESS_TOKEN

An access token issued by the authorization server is valid for 1 hour. So, if you start to get 401 – Unauthorized errors after a while, it is probably time to acquire a new access token.

Try a normal request and verify that it returns the HTTP response code 200:

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s

The -w "%{http_code}\n" switch is used to print the HTTP return status. As long as the command returns 200, we are not interested in the response body, so we suppress it with the switch -o /dev/null.

Verify that the circuit breaker is closed using the health API:

docker-compose exec product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state

We expect it to respond with CLOSED.

Forcing the circuit breaker to open when things go wrong

Now, it's time to make things go wrong! By that, I mean it's time to try out some negative tests to verify that the circuit opens up when things start to go wrong. Call the API three times and direct the product service to cause a timeout on every call, that is, delay the response by 3 seconds. This should be enough to trip the circuit breaker:

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1?delay=3 -s | jq .

We expect a response such as the following each time:

Figure 13.3: Response after a timeout

The circuit breaker is now open, so if you make a fourth attempt (within waitInterval, that is, 10 seconds), you will see fail-fast behavior and the fallback method in action. You will get a response back immediately, instead of an error message once the time limiter kicks in after 2 seconds:

Figure 13.4: Response when the circuit breaker is open

The response will come from the fallback method. This can be recognized by looking at the value in the name field, Fallback product1.

Fail-fast and fallback methods are key capabilities of a circuit breaker. A configuration with a wait time set to only 10 seconds in the open state requires you to be rather quick to be able to see fail-fast logic and fallback methods in action! Once in a half-open state, you can always submit three new requests that cause a timeout, forcing the circuit breaker back to the open state, and then quickly try the fourth request. Then, you should get a fail-fast response from the fallback method. You can also increase the wait time to a minute or two, but it can be rather boring to wait that amount of time before the circuit switches to the half-open state.

Wait 10 seconds for the circuit breaker to transition to half-open, and then run the following command to verify that the circuit is now in a half-open state:

docker-compose exec product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state

Expect it to respond with HALF_OPEN.

Closing the circuit breaker again

Once the circuit breaker is in a half-open state, it waits for three calls to see whether it should open the circuit again or go back to normal by closing it.

Let's submit three normal requests to close the circuit breaker:

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s

They should all respond with 200. Verify that the circuit is closed again by using the health API:

docker-compose exec product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/health | jq -r .components.circuitBreakers.details.product.details.state

We expect it to respond with CLOSED.

Wrap this up by listing the last three state transitions using the following command: 

docker-compose exec product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/circuitbreakerevents/product/STATE_TRANSITION | jq -r '.circuitBreakerEvents[-3].stateTransition, .circuitBreakerEvents[-2].stateTransition, .circuitBreakerEvents[-1].stateTransition'

Expect it to respond with the following:

Figure 13.5: Circuit breaker state changes

This response tells us that we have taken our circuit breaker through a full lap of its state diagram:

  • From closed to open when the timeout errors start to prevent requests from succeeding
  • From open to half-open to see whether the error is gone
  • From half-open to closed when the error is gone, that is, when we are back to normal operation

With that, we are done with testing the circuit breaker; let's move on and see the retry mechanism in play.

Trying out retries caused by random errors

Let's simulate that there is a – hopefully temporary – random issue with our product service or the communication with it.

We can do this by using the faultPercent parameter. If we set it to 25, we expect every fourth request on average to fail. We hope that the retry mechanism will kick in to help us by automatically retrying failed requests. One way of noticing that the retry mechanism has kicked in is to measure the response time of the curl command. A normal response should take around 100 ms. Since we have configured the retry mechanism to wait 1 second (see the waitDuration parameter in the section on the configuration of the retry mechanism), we expect the response time to increase by 1 second per retry attempt. To force a random error to occur, run the following command a couple of times:

time curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1?faultPercent=25 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s

The command should respond with 200, indicating that the request succeeded. A response time prefixed with real, for example, real 0m0.078s, means that the response time was 0.078 s, or 78 ms. A normal response, that is, without any retries, should report a response time of around 100 ms as follows:

Figure 13.6: Elapsed time for a request without a retry

A response after one retry should take a little over 1 second and look as follows:

Figure 13.7: Elapsed time for a request with one retry

The HTTP status code 200 indicates that the request has succeeded, even though it required one retry before succeeding!

After you have noticed a response time of 1 second, indicating that the request required one retry to succeed, run the following command to see the last two retry events:

docker-compose exec product-composite curl -s http://product-composite:8080/actuator/retryevents | jq '.retryEvents[-2], .retryEvents[-1]'

You should be able to see the failed request and the next successful attempt. The creationTime timestamps are expected to differ by 1 second. Expect a response such as the following:

Figure 13.8: Retry events captured after a request with one retry

If you are really unlucky, you will get two faults in a row, and then you will get a response time of 2 seconds instead of 1. If you repeat the preceding command, you will be able to see that the numberOfAttempts field is counted for each retry attempt, which is set to 1 in this case: "numberOfAttempts": 1. If calls continue to fail, the circuit breaker will kick in and open its circuit, that is, subsequent calls will apply fail-fast logic and the fallback method will be applied!

This concludes the chapter. Feel free to experiment with the parameters in the configuration to learn the resilience mechanisms better.

Don't forget to shut down the system landscape:

docker-compose down

Summary

In this chapter, we have seen Resilience4j and its circuit breaker, time limiter, and retry mechanism in action.

A circuit breaker can, using fail-fast logic and fallback methods when it is open, prevent a microservice from becoming unresponsive if the synchronous services it depends on stop responding normally. A circuit breaker can also make a microservice resilient by allowing requests when it is half-open to see whether the failing service is operating normally again, and close the circuit if so. To support a circuit breaker in handling unresponsive services, a time limiter can be used to maximize the time a circuit breaker waits before it kicks in.

A retry mechanism can retry requests that randomly fail from time to time, for example, due to temporary network problems. It is very important to only apply retry requests on idempotent services, that is, services that can handle the same request being sent two or more times.

Circuit breakers and retry mechanisms are implemented by following Spring Boot conventions: declaring dependencies and adding annotations and configuration. Resilience4j exposes information about its circuit breakers and retry mechanisms at runtime, using actuator endpoints. For circuit breakers, information regarding health, events, and metrics is available. For retries, information regarding events and metrics is available.

We have seen the usage of both endpoints for health and events in this chapter, but we will have to wait until Chapter 20, Monitoring Microservices, before we use any of the metrics.

In the next chapter, we will cover the last part of using Spring Cloud, where we will learn how to trace call chains through a set of cooperating microservices using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin. Head over to Chapter 14, Understanding Distributed Tracing, to get started!

Questions

  1. What are the states of a circuit breaker and how are they used?
  2. How can we handle timeout errors in the circuit breaker?
  3. How can we apply fallback logic when a circuit breaker fails fast?
  4. How can a retry mechanism and a circuit breaker interfere with each other?
  5. Provide an example of a service that you can't apply a retry mechanism to.
 

Understanding Distributed Tracing

In this chapter, we will learn how to use distributed tracing to better understand how our microservices cooperate, for example, in fulfilling a request sent to the external API. Being able to utilize distributed tracing is essential for being able to manage a system landscape of cooperating microservices. As already described in Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud, Spring Cloud Sleuth will be used to collect trace information, and Zipkin will be used for the storage and visualization of said trace information.

In this chapter, we will learn about the following topics:

  • Introducing distributed tracing with Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin.
  • How to add distributed tracing to the source code.
  • How to perform distributed tracing, visualizing both successful and unsuccessful API requests. We will see how both synchronous and asynchronous processing can be visualized.
  • How to use either RabbitMQ or Kafka to send trace events from our microservices to the Zipkin server.

Technical requirements

For instructions on how to install the tools used in this book and how to access the source code for this book, see:

  • Chapter 21 for macOS
  • Chapter 22 for Windows

The code examples in this chapter all come from the source code in $BOOK_HOME/Chapter14.

If you want to view the changes applied to the source code in this chapter, that is, see what it took to add distributed tracing using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin, you can compare it with the source code for Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j. You can use your favorite diff tool and compare the two folders, $BOOK_HOME/Chapter13 and $BOOK_HOME/Chapter14.

Introducing distributed tracing with Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin

To recapitulate Chapter 8, Introduction to Spring Cloud, in reference to the Using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin for distributed tracing section, the tracing information from a complete workflow is called a trace or a trace tree, and sub-parts of the tree, for example, the basic units of work, are called spans. Spans can consist of sub-spans forming the trace tree. The Zipkin UI can visualize a trace tree and its spans as follows:

Figure 14.1: Example of a trace with its spans

Spring Cloud Sleuth can send trace information to Zipkin either synchronously over HTTP, or asynchronously using a message broker such as RabbitMQ or Kafka. To avoid creating runtime dependencies on the Zipkin server from the microservices, it is preferable to send trace information to Zipkin asynchronously using either RabbitMQ or Kafka. This is illustrated in the following diagram:

Figure 14.2: Sending trace information to Zipkin using a message broker

Zipkin comes with native support for storing trace information either in memory, or in a database such as Apache Cassandra, Elasticsearch, or MySQL. Added to this, a number of extensions are available. For details, refer to https://zipkin.io/pages/extensions_choices.html. In this chapter, we will store the trace information in memory.

With Zipkin introduced and placed in the system landscape, let's see what changes are required in the source code to enable distributed tracing.

Adding distributed tracing to the source code

In this section, we will learn how to update the source code to enable distributed tracing using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin. This can be done with the following steps:

  1. Add dependencies to the build files to bring in Spring Cloud Sleuth and the capability of sending trace information to Zipkin
  2. Add dependencies on RabbitMQ and Kafka for the projects that haven't used them before, that is, the Spring Cloud projects authorization-server, eureka-server, and gateway
  3. Configure the microservices to send trace information to Zipkin using either RabbitMQ or Kafka
  4. Add a Zipkin server to the Docker Compose files
  5. Add the kafka Spring profile in docker-compose-kafka.yml to the Spring Cloud projects authorization-server, eureka-server, and gateway

To run the Zipkin server as a Docker container, we will use a Docker image published by the Zipkin project. Refer to https://hub.docker.com/r/openzipkin/zipkin for details.

Adding dependencies to build files

To be able to utilize Spring Cloud Sleuth and the ability to send trace information to Zipkin, we need to add a couple of dependencies to the Gradle project build files, build.gradle.

This is accomplished by adding the following two lines:

implementation 'org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-starter-sleuth'
implementation 'org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-sleuth-zipkin'

For the Gradle projects that haven't used RabbitMQ and Kafka before, that is, the Spring Cloud projects authorization-server, eureka-server, and gateway, the following dependencies have also been added:

implementation 'org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-starter-stream-rabbit'
implementation 'org.springframework.cloud:spring-cloud-starter-stream-kafka'

Adding configuration for Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin

Configuration for using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin is added to the common configuration file, config-repo/application.yml. In the default profile, it is specified that trace information will be sent to Zipkin using RabbitMQ:

spring.zipkin.sender.type: rabbit

By default, Spring Cloud Sleuth only sends 10% of the traces to Zipkin. To ensure that all traces are sent to Zipkin, the following property is added in the default profile:

spring.sleuth.sampler.probability: 1.0

When sending traces to Zipkin using Kafka, the Spring profile kafka will be used. In the kafka profile, we override the setting in the default profile so that trace information is sent to Zipkin using Kafka:

--- 
spring.config.activate.on-profile: kafka

spring.zipkin.sender.type: kafka

Finally, the Gateway service needs a parameter in the configuration file config-repo/gateway.yml to enable Sleuth to track trace IDs correctly:

spring.sleuth.reactor.instrumentation-type: decorate-on-last

For details, see: https://docs.spring.io/spring-cloud-sleuth/docs/3.0.1/reference/html/integrations.html#sleuth-reactor-integration.

Adding Zipkin to the Docker Compose files

As we mentioned previously, the Zipkin server is added to the Docker Compose files using an already existing Docker image, openzipkin/zipkin, published by the Zipkin project. In docker-compose.yml and docker-compose-partitions.yml, where RabbitMQ is used, the definition of the Zipkin server appears as follows:

  zipkin:
    image: openzipkin/zipkin:2.23.2
    mem_limit: 1024m
    environment:
      - RABBIT_ADDRESSES=rabbitmq
      - STORAGE_TYPE=mem
    ports:
      - 9411:9411
    depends_on:
      rabbitmq:
        condition: service_healthy

Let's explain the preceding source code:

  • The version of the Docker image, openzipkin/zipkin, is specified to be version 2.23.2.
  • The RABBIT_ADDRESSES=rabbitmq environment variable is used to specify that Zipkin will receive trace information using RabbitMQ and that Zipkin will connect to RabbitMQ using the hostname rabbitmq.
  • The STORAGE_TYPE=mem environment variable is used to specify that Zipkin will keep all trace information in memory.
  • The memory limit for Zipkin is increased to 1,024 MB, compared to 512 MB for all other containers. The reason for this is that since Zipkin is configured to keep all trace information in memory, it will consume more memory than the other containers after a while.
  • Zipkin exposes the HTTP port 9411 for web browsers to access its web user interface.
  • Docker will wait to start up the Zipkin server until the RabbitMQ service reports being healthy to Docker.

While it is OK to store the trace information in Zipkin in memory for development and test activities, Zipkin should be configured to store trace information in a database such as Apache Cassandra, Elasticsearch, or MySQL in a production environment.

In docker-compose-kafka.yml, where Kafka is used, the definition of the Zipkin server appears as follows:

  zipkin:
    image: openzipkin/zipkin:2.23.2
    mem_limit: 1024m
    environment:
      - STORAGE_TYPE=mem
      - KAFKA_BOOTSTRAP_SERVERS=kafka:9092
    ports:
      - 9411:9411
    depends_on:
      - kafka

Let's explain the preceding source code in detail:

  • The configuration for using Zipkin together with Kafka is similar to the configuration we just saw for using Zipkin with RabbitMQ.
  • The main difference is the use of the KAFKA_BOOTSTRAP_SERVERS=kafka:9092 environment variable, which is used to specify that Zipkin will use Kafka to receive trace information and that Zipkin will connect to Kafka using the hostname kafka and the port 9092.
  • Docker will wait to start up the Zipkin server until the Kafka service has been started.

In docker-compose-kafka.yml, the kafka Spring profile is added to the Spring Cloud services eureka, gateway, and auth-server:

    environment:
      - SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=docker,kafka

That's what it takes to add distributed tracing using Spring Cloud Sleuth and Zipkin, so let's try it out in the next section!

Trying out distributed tracing

With the necessary changes to the source code in place, we can try out distributed tracing. We will do this by performing the following steps:

  1. Build, start, and verify the system landscape with RabbitMQ as the queue manager.
  2. Send a successful API request and see what trace information we can find in Zipkin related to this API request.
  3. Send an unsuccessful API request and see what error information we can find.
  4. Send a successful API request that triggers asynchronous processing and see how its trace information is represented.
  5. Investigate how we can monitor trace information that's passed to Zipkin in RabbitMQ.
  6. Switch the queue manager to Kafka and repeat the preceding steps.

We will discuss these steps in detail in the upcoming sections.

Starting up the system landscape with RabbitMQ as the queue manager

Let's start up the system landscape. Build the Docker images with the following commands:

cd $BOOK_HOME/Chapter14
./gradlew build && docker-compose build

Start the system landscape in Docker and run the usual tests with the following command:

./test-em-all.bash start

Before we can call the API, we need an access token. Run the following commands to acquire an access token:

unset ACCESS_TOKEN
ACCESS_TOKEN=$(curl -k https://writer:secret@localhost:8443/oauth2/token -d grant_type=client_credentials -s | jq -r .access_token)
echo $ACCESS_TOKEN

As noticed in previous chapters, an access token issued by the authorization server is valid for one hour. So, if you start to get 401 Unauthorized errors after a while, it is probably time to acquire a new access token.

Sending a successful API request

Now, we are ready to send a normal request to the API. Run the following command:

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/1 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s

Expect the command to return the HTTP status code for success, 200.

We can now launch the Zipkin UI to look into what trace information has been sent to Zipkin:

  1. Open the following URL in your web browser: http://localhost:9411/zipkin/.
  2. To find the trace information for our request, we can search for traces that have passed through the gateway service. Perform the following steps:
    1. Click on the large plus sign (white + sign on red background) and select serviceName and then gateway.
    2. Click on the RUN QUERY button.
    3. Click on the Start Time header to see the results ordered by latest first (a down arrow should be visible to the left of the Start Time header).

    The response from finding traces should look like the following screenshot:

    Figure 14.3: Searching for distributed traces using Zipkin

  3. The trace information from our preceding API request is the first one in the list. Click on its SHOW button to see details pertaining to the trace:

    Figure 14.4: Sample distributed trace visualized in Zipkin

    In the detailed trace information view, we can observe the following:

    1. The request was received by the gateway service.
    2. The gateway service delegated the processing of the request to the product-composite service.
    3. The product-composite service, in turn, sent three parallel requests to the core services: product, recommendation, and review.
    4. Once the product-composite service received the response from all three core services, it created a composite response and sent it back to the caller through the gateway service.
    5. In the details view to the right, we can see the HTTP path of the actual request we sent: /product-composite/1.

Sending an unsuccessful API request

Let's see what the trace information looks like if we make an unsuccessful API request; for example, searching for a product that does not exist:

  1. Send an API request for product ID 12345 and verify that it returns the HTTP status code for Not Found, 404:
    curl -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/12345 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s
    
  2. In the Zipkin UI, go back to the search page (use the back button in the web browser) and click on the RUN QUERY button again. To see the results ordered by latest first, click on the Start Time header. Expect a result similar to the following screenshot:

    Figure 14.5: Finding a failed request using Zipkin

  3. You should see the failed request at the top of the returned list. Note that its duration bar is red, indicating that an error has occurred. Click on its SHOW button to see details:

Figure 14.6: Viewing a trace of a failed request using Zipkin

Here, we can see the request path that caused the error, /product-composite/12345, as well as the error code: 404 (Not Found). The color coding in red indicates that it is the request to the product service that caused the error. This is very useful information when analyzing the root cause of a failure!

Sending an API request that triggers asynchronous processing

The third type of request that is interesting to see represented in the Zipkin UI is a request where parts of its processing are done asynchronously. Let's try a delete request, where the delete process in the core services is done asynchronously. The product-composite service sends a delete event to each of the three core services over the message broker and each core service picks up the delete event and processes it asynchronously. Thanks to Spring Cloud Sleuth, trace information is added to the events that are sent to the message broker, resulting in a coherent view of the total processing of the delete request.

Run the following command to delete the product with a product ID of 12345 and verify that it returns the HTTP status code for success, 200:

curl -X DELETE -H "Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN" -k https://localhost:8443/product-composite/12345 -w "%{http_code}\n" -o /dev/null -s

Remember that the delete operation is idempotent, that is, it will succeed even if the product doesn't exist!

In the Zipkin UI, go back to the search page (use the back button in the web browser) and click on the RUN QUERY button again. To see the results ordered by latest first, click on the Start Time header. Expect a result similar to the following screenshot:

Figure 14.7: Finding a delete request using Zipkin

You should see the delete request at the top of the returned list. Note that the root service name, gateway, is suffixed by the HTTP method used, delete. Click on its SHOW button to see details:

Figure 14.8: Viewing a delete request using Zipkin

Here, we can see the trace information for processing the delete request:

  1. The request was received by the gateway service.
  2. The gateway service delegated the processing of the request to the product-composite service.
  3. The product-composite service, in turn, published three events on the message broker (RabbitMQ, in this case).
  4. The product-composite service is now done and returns a success HTTP status code, 200, through the gateway service back to the caller.
  5. The core services (product, recommendation, and review) receive the delete events and start to process them asynchronously, that is, independently of one another.

To confirm the involvement of the message broker, click on the first product span:

Figure 14.9: Viewing information about the asynchronous processing of an event using Zipkin

The selected span has a rather unhelpful name, unknown. But in the Tags section of the selected span, to the right, we can see information that is more interesting. Here, we can see that the product service was triggered by a message delivered on its input channel, products. We can also see the name of the message broker, broker, in the field Broker Address.

The Zipkin UI contains much more functionality for finding traces of interest!

To get more accustomed to the Zipkin UI, try out the query functionality by clicking on the plus sign and selecting tagQuery. For example, to find requests that failed on a 404 - not found error, set its value to tagQuery=error and http.status_code=404, searching for traces that failed on a Not Found (404) error. Also, try setting limits for lookback range (start and end time) and the maximum number of hits by clicking on the gear icon to the right of the RUN QUERY button.

Monitoring trace information passed to Zipkin in RabbitMQ

To monitor trace information sent to Zipkin over RabbitMQ, we can use the RabbitMQ management Web UI. Trace messages are sent to Zipkin using a queue named zipkin. To monitor messages sent through this queue, open the following URL in your web browser: http://localhost:15672/#/queues/%2F/zipkin. If required, log in using the username "guest" and the password "guest". Expect a web page that looks like the following:

Figure 14.10: Trace records sent through RabbitMQ

In the graph named Message rates, we can see that trace messages are sent to Zipkin, currently at an average rate of 1 message per second.

Wrap up the tests of distributed tracing using RabbitMQ by bringing down the system landscape. Run the following command:

docker-compose down

Using Kafka as a message broker

Let's also verify that we can send trace information to Zipkin using Kafka instead of RabbitMQ!

Start up the system landscape using the following commands:

export COMPOSE_FILE=docker-compose-kafka.yml
./test-em-all.bash start

Repeat the commands we performed in the previous sections, where we used RabbitMQ, and verify that you can see the same trace information in the Zipkin UI when using Kafka.

Kafka doesn't come with a management web UI like RabbitMQ. Therefore, we need to run a few Kafka commands to be able to verify that the trace events were passed to the Zipkin server using Kafka:

For a recap on how to run Kafka commands when running Kafka as a Docker container, refer to the Using Kafka with two partitions per topic section in Chapter 7, Developing Reactive Microservices.

  1. First, list the available topics in Kafka:
    docker-compose exec kafka /opt/kafka/bin/kafka-topics.sh --zookeeper zookeeper --list
    

    Expect to find a topic named zipkin:

    Figure 14.11: Finding the Zipkin topic in Kafka

  2. Next, ask for trace events that were sent to the zipkin topic:
    docker-compose exec kafka /opt/kafka/bin/kafka-console-consumer.sh --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic zipkin --from-beginning --timeout-ms 1000
    

    Expect a lot of events similar to the following:

    Figure 14.12: Viewing a lot of trace events in the Zipkin topic in Kafka

The details of a trace event are not important. The Zipkin server sorts that out for us and makes the information presentable in the Zipkin UI. The important point here is that we can see that the trace events actually were sent to the Zipkin server using Kafka.

Now, bring down the system landscape and unset the COMPOSE_FILE environment variable:

docker-compose down
unset COMPOSE_FILE

That concludes this chapter on distributed tracing!

Summary

In this chapter, we have learned how to use distributed tracing to understand how our microservices cooperate. We have learned how to use Spring Cloud Sleuth to collect trace information, and Zipkin to store and visualize the trace information.

To promote the decoupling of runtime components, we have learned how to configure microservices to send trace information to the Zipkin server asynchronously while using RabbitMQ and Kafka as message brokers. We have seen how adding Spring Cloud Sleuth to microservices is effected by adding a couple of dependencies to the build files and setting up a few configuration parameters. We have also seen how the Zipkin UI makes it very easy to identify which part of a complex workflow caused either an unexpectedly long response time or an error. Both synchronous and asynchronous workflows can be visualized with the Zipkin UI.

In the next chapter, we will learn about container orchestrators, specifically Kubernetes. We will learn how to use Kubernetes to deploy and manage microservices, while also improving important runtime characteristics such as scalability, high availability, and resilience.

Questions

  1. What configuration parameter is used to control how trace information is sent to Zipkin?
  2. What is the purpose of the spring.sleuth.sampler.probability configuration parameter?
  3. How can you identify the longest-running request after executing the test-em-all.bash test script?
  4. How can we find requests that have been interrupted by the timeout introduced in Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j?
  5. What does the trace look like for an API request when the circuit breaker introduced in Chapter 13, Improving Resilience Using Resilience4j, is open?
  6. How can we locate APIs that failed on the caller not being authorized to perform the request?
About the Author
  • Magnus Larsson

    Magnus Larsson has been in the IT industry for 35 years, working as a consultant for large companies in Sweden such as Volvo, Ericsson, and AstraZeneca. In the past, he struggled with the challenges associated with distributed systems. Today, these challenges can be handled with open-source tools such as Spring Cloud, Kubernetes, and Istio. Over the last years, Magnus has been helping customers use these tools and has also done several presentations and blog posts on the subject.

    Browse publications by this author
Latest Reviews (1 reviews total)
The introduction chapter is great, after that it is really hard to follow.
Microservices with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud - Second Edition
Unlock this book and the full library FREE for 7 days
Start now