Posts Tagged Minikube

Eventual Consistency with Spring for Apache Kafka: Part 2 of 2

Using Spring for Apache Kafka to manage a Distributed Data Model in MongoDB across multiple microservices

As discussed in Part One of this post, given a modern distributed system composed of multiple microservices, each possessing a sub-set of a domain’s aggregate data, the system will almost assuredly have some data duplication. Given this duplication, how do we maintain data consistency? In this two-part post, we explore one possible solution to this challenge — Apache Kafka and the model of eventual consistency.

Part Two

In Part Two of this post, we will review how to deploy and run the storefront API components in a local development environment running on Kubernetes with Istio, using minikube. For simplicity’s sake, we will only run a single instance of each service. Additionally, we are not implementing custom domain names, TLS/HTTPS, authentication and authorization, API keys, or restricting access to any sensitive operational API endpoints or ports, all of which we would certainly do in an actual production environment.

To provide operational visibility, we will add Yahoo’s CMAK (Cluster Manager for Apache Kafka), Mongo ExpressKialiPrometheus, and Grafana to our system.

View of Storefront API traffic from Kiali

Prerequisites

This post will assume a basic level of knowledge of Kubernetes, minikube, Docker, and Istio. Furthermore, the post assumes you have already installed recent versions of minikube, kubectl, Docker, and Istio. Meaning, that the kubectl, istioctl, docker, and minikube commands are all available from the terminal.

Currently installed version of the required applications

For this post demonstration, I am using an Apple MacBook Pro running macOS as my development machine. I have the latest versions of Docker Desktop, minikube, kubectl, and Istio installed as of May 2021.

Source Code

The source code for this post is open-source and is publicly available on GitHub. Clone the GitHub project using the following command:

clone --branch 2021-istio \
--single-branch --depth 1 \
https://github.com/garystafford/storefront-demo.git

Minikube

Part of the Kubernetes project, minikube is local Kubernetes, focusing on making it easy to learn and develop for Kubernetes. Minikube quickly sets up a local Kubernetes cluster on macOS, Linux, and Windows. Given the number of Kubernetes resources we will be deploying to minikube, I would recommend at least 3 CPUs and 4–5 GBs of memory. If you choose to deploy multiple observability tools, you may want to increase both of these resources if you can afford it. I maxed out both CPUs and memory several times while setting up this demonstration, causing temporary lock-ups of minikube.

minikube --cpus 3 --memory 5g --driver=docker start start

The Docker driver allows you to install Kubernetes into an existing Docker install. If you are using Docker, please be aware that you must have at least an equivalent amount of resources allocated to Docker to apportion to minikube.

Before continuing, confirm minikube is up and running and confirm the current context of kubectl is minikube.

minikube status
kubectl config current-context

The statuses should look similar to the following:

Use the eval below command to point your shell to minikube’s docker-daemon. You can confirm this by using the docker image ls and docker container ls command to view running Kubernetes containers on minikube.

eval $(minikube -p minikube docker-env)
docker image ls
docker container ls

The output should look similar to the following:

You can also check the status of minikube from Docker Desktop. Minikube is running as a container, instantiated from a Docker image, gcr.io/k8s-minikube/kicbase. View the container’s Stats, as shown below.

Istio

Assuming you have downloaded and configured Istio, install it onto minikube. I currently have Istio 1.10.0 installed and have theISTIO_HOME environment variable set in my Oh My Zsh .zshrc file. I have also set Istio’s bin/ subdirectory in my PATH environment variable. The bin/ subdirectory contains the istioctl executable.

echo $ISTIO_HOME                                                                
> /Applications/Istio/istio-1.10.0
where istioctl
> /Applications/Istio/istio-1.10.0/bin/istioctl
istioctl version

> client version: 1.10.0
control plane version: 1.10.0
data plane version: 1.10.0 (4 proxies)

Istio comes with several built-in configuration profiles. The profiles provide customization of the Istio control plane and of the sidecars for the Istio data plane.

istioctl profile list
> Istio configuration profiles:
default
demo
empty
external
minimal
openshift
preview
remote

For this demonstration, we will use the default profile, which installs istiod and an istio-ingressgateway. We will not require the use of an istio-egressgateway, since all components will be installed locally on minikube.

istioctl install --set profile=default -y
> ✔ Istio core installed
✔ Istiod installed
✔ Ingress gateways installed
✔ Installation complete

Minikube Tunnel

kubectl get svc istio-ingressgateway -n istio-system

To associate an IP address, run the minikube tunnel command in a separate terminal tab. Since it requires opening privileged ports 80 and 443 to be exposed, this command will prompt you for your sudo password.

Services of the type LoadBalancer can be exposed by using the minikube tunnel command. It must be run in a separate terminal window to keep the LoadBalancer running. We previously created the istio-ingressgateway. Run the following command and note that the status of EXTERNAL-IP is <pending>. There is currently no external IP address associated with our LoadBalancer.

minikube tunnel

Rerun the previous command. There should now be an external IP address associated with the LoadBalancer. In my case, 127.0.0.1.

kubectl get svc istio-ingressgateway -n istio-system

The external IP address shown is the address we will use to access the resources we chose to expose externally on minikube.

Minikube Dashboard

Once again, in a separate terminal tab, open the Minikube Dashboard (aka Kubernetes Dashboard).

minikube dashboard

The dashboard will give you a visual overview of all your installed Kubernetes components.

Minikube Dashboard showing the istio-system namespace

Namespaces

Kubernetes supports multiple virtual clusters backed by the same physical cluster. These virtual clusters are called namespaces. For this demonstration, we will use four namespaces to organize our deployed resources: dev, mongo, kafka, and storefront-kafka-project. The dev namespace is where we will deploy our Storefront API’s microservices: accounts, orders, and fulfillment. We will deploy MongoDB and Mongo Express to the mongo namespace. Lastly, we will use the kafka and storefront-kafka-project namespaces to deploy Apache Kafka to minikube using Strimzi, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation sandbox project, and CMAK.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/namespaces.yaml

Automatic Sidecar Injection

In order to take advantage of all of Istio’s features, pods in the mesh must be running an Istio sidecar proxy. When you set the istio-injection=enabled label on a namespace and the injection webhook is enabled, any new pods created in that namespace will automatically have a sidecar added to them. Labeling the dev namespace for automatic sidecar injection ensures that our Storefront API’s microservices — accounts, orders, and fulfillment— will have Istio sidecar proxy automatically injected into their pods.

kubectl label namespace dev istio-injection=enabled

MongoDB

Next, deploy MongoDB and Mongo Express to the mongo namespace on minikube. To ensure a successful connection to MongoDB from Mongo Express, I suggest giving MongoDB a chance to start up fully before deploying Mongo Express.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/mongodb.yaml -n mongo
sleep 60
kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/mongo-express.yaml -n mongo

To confirm the success of the deployments, use the following command:

kubectl get services -n mongo

Or use the Kubernetes Dashboard to confirm deployments.

Mongo Express UI Access

For parts of your application (for example, frontends) you may want to expose a Service onto an external IP address outside of your cluster. Kubernetes ServiceTypes allows you to specify what kind of Service you want; the default is ClusterIP.

Note that while MongoDB uses the ClusterIP, Mongo Express uses NodePort. With NodePort, the Service is exposed on each Node’s IP at a static port (the NodePort). You can contact the NodePort Service, from outside the cluster, by requesting <NodeIP>:<NodePort>.

In a separate terminal tab, open Mongo Express using the following command:

minikube service --url mongo-express -n mongo

You should see output similar to the following:

Click on the link to open Mongo Express. There should already be three MongoDB operational databases shown in the UI. The three Storefront databases and collections will be created automatically, later in the post: accounts, orders, and fulfillment.

Apache Kafka using Strimzi

Next, we will install Apache Kafka and Apache Zookeeper into the kafka and storefront-kafka-project namespaces on minikube, using Strimzi. Since Strimzi has a great, easy-to-use Quick Start guide, I will not detail the complete install complete process in this post. I suggest using their guide to understand the process and what each command does. Then, use the slightly modified Strimzi commands I have included below to install Kafka and Zookeeper.

# assuming 0.23.0 is latest version available
curl -L -O https://github.com/strimzi/strimzi-kafka-operator/releases/download/0.23.0/strimzi-0.23.0.zip
unzip strimzi-0.23.0.zip
cd strimzi-0.23.0
sed -i '' 's/namespace: .*/namespace: kafka/' install/cluster-operator/*RoleBinding*.yaml
# manually change STRIMZI_NAMESPACE value to storefront-kafka-project
nano install/cluster-operator/060-Deployment-strimzi-cluster-operator.yaml
kubectl create -f install/cluster-operator/ -n kafka
kubectl create -f install/cluster-operator/020-RoleBinding-strimzi-cluster-operator.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project
kubectl create -f install/cluster-operator/032-RoleBinding-strimzi-cluster-operator-topic-operator-delegation.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project
kubectl create -f install/cluster-operator/031-RoleBinding-strimzi-cluster-operator-entity-operator-delegation.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project
kubectl apply -f ../storefront-demo/minikube/resources/strimzi-kafka-cluster.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project
kubectl wait kafka/kafka-cluster --for=condition=Ready --timeout=300s -n storefront-kafka-project
kubectl apply -f ../storefront-demo/minikube/resources/strimzi-kafka-topics.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project

Zoo Entrance

We want to install Yahoo’s CMAK (Cluster Manager for Apache Kafka) to give us a management interface for Kafka. However, CMAK required access to Zookeeper. You can not access Strimzi’s Zookeeper directly from CMAK; this is intentional to avoid performance and security issues. See this GitHub issue for a better explanation of why. We will use the appropriately named Zoo Entrance as a proxy for CMAK to Zookeeper to overcome this challenge.

To install Zoo Entrance, review the GitHub project’s install guide, then use the following commands:

git clone https://github.com/scholzj/zoo-entrance.git
cd zoo-entrance
# optional: change my-cluster to kafka-cluster
sed -i '' 's/my-cluster/kafka-cluster/' deploy.yaml
kubectl apply -f deploy.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project

Cluster Manager for Apache Kafka

Next, install Yahoo’s CMAK (Cluster Manager for Apache Kafka) to give us a management interface for Kafka. Run the following command to deploy CMAK into the storefront-kafka-project namespace.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/cmak.yaml -n storefront-kafka-project

Similar to Mongo Express, we can access CMAK’s UI using its NodePort. In a separate terminal tab, run the following command:

minikube service --url cmak -n storefront-kafka-project

You should see output similar to Mongo Express. Click on the link provided to access CMAK. Choose ‘Add Cluster’ in CMAK to add our existing Kafka cluster to CMAK’s management interface. Use Zoo Enterence’s service address for the Cluster Zookeeper Hosts value.

zoo-entrance.storefront-kafka-project.svc:2181

Once complete, you should see the three Kafka topics we created previously with Strimzi: accounts.customer.change, fulfillment.order.change, and orders.order.change. Each topic will have three partitions, one replica, and one broker. You should also see the _consumer_offsets topic that Kafka uses to store information about committed offsets for each topic:partition per group of consumers (groupID).

Storefront API Microservices

We are finally ready to install our Storefront API’s microservices into the dev namespace. Each service is preconfigured to access Kafka and MongoDB in their respective namespaces.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/accounts.yaml -n dev
kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/orders.yaml -n dev
kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/fulfillment.yaml -n dev

Spring Boot services usually take about two minutes to fully start. The time required to download the Docker Images from docker.com and the start-up time means it could take 3–4 minutes for each of the three services to be ready to accept API traffic.

Istio Components

We want to be able to access our Storefront API’s microservices through our Kubernetes LoadBalancer, while also leveraging all the capabilities of Istio as a service mesh. To do so, we need to deploy an Istio Gateway and a VirtualService. We will also need to deploy DestinationRule resources. A Gateway describes a load balancer operating at the edge of the mesh receiving incoming or outgoing HTTP/TCP connections. A VirtualService defines a set of traffic routing rules to apply when a host is addressed. Lastly, a DestinationRule defines policies that apply to traffic intended for a Service after routing has occurred.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/destination_rules.yaml -n dev
kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/istio-gateway.yaml -n dev

Testing the System and Creating Sample Data

I have provided a Python 3 script that runs a series of seven HTTP GET requests, in a specific order, against the Storefront API. These calls will validate the deployments, confirm the API’s services can access Kafka and MongoDB, generate some initial data, and automatically create the MongoDB database collections from the initial Insert statements.

python3 -m pip install -r ./utility_scripts/requirements.txt -U
python3 ./utility_scripts/refresh.py

The script’s output should be as follows:

If we now look at Mongo Express, we should note three new databases: accounts, orders, and fulfillment.

Observability Tools

Istio makes it easy to integrate with a number of common tools, including cert-managerPrometheusGrafanaKialiZipkin, and Jaeger. In order to better observe our Storefront API, we will install three well-known observability tools: Kiali, Prometheus, and Grafana. Luckily, these tools are all included with Istio. You can install any or all of these to minikube. I suggest installing the tools one at a time as not to overwhelm minikube’s CPU and memory resources.

kubectl apply -f ./minikube/resources/prometheus.yaml

kubectl apply -f $ISTIO_HOME/samples/addons/grafana.yaml

kubectl apply -f $ISTIO_HOME/samples/addons/kiali.yaml

Once deployment is complete, to access any of the UI’s for these tools, use the istioctl dashboard command from a new terminal window:

istioctl dashboard kiali

istioctl dashboard prometheus

istioctl dashboard grafana

Kiali

Below we see a view of Kiali with API traffic flowing to Kafka and MongoDB.

View of Storefront API traffic from Kiali

Prometheus

Each of the three Storefront API microservices has a dependency on Micrometer; specifically, a dependency on micrometer-registry-prometheus. As an instrumentation facade, Micrometer allows you to instrument your code with dimensional metrics with a vendor-neutral interface and decide on the monitoring system as a last step. Instrumenting your core library code with Micrometer allows the libraries to be included in applications that ship metrics to different backends. Given the Micrometer Prometheus dependency, each microservice exposes a /prometheus endpoint (e.g., http://127.0.0.1/accounts/actuator/prometheus) as shown below in Postman.

The /prometheus endpoint exposes dozens of useful metrics and is configured to be scraped by Prometheus. These metrics can be displayed in Prometheus and indirectly in Grafana dashboards via Prometheus. I have customized Istio’s version of Prometheus and included it in the project (prometheus.yaml), which now scrapes the Storefront API’s metrics.

scrape_configs:
- job_name: 'spring_micrometer'
metrics_path: '/actuator/prometheus'
scrape_interval: 5s
static_configs:
- targets: ['accounts.dev:8080','orders.dev:8080','fulfillment.dev:8080']

Here we see an example graph of a Spring Kafka Listener metric, spring_kafka_listener_seconds_sum, in Prometheus. There are dozens of metrics exposed to Prometheus from our system that we can observe and alert on.

Grafana

Lastly, here is an example Spring Boot Dashboard in Grafana. More dashboards are available on Grafana’s community dashboard page. The Grafana dashboard uses Prometheus as the source of its metrics data.

Storefront API Endpoints

The three storefront services are fully functional Spring Boot, Spring Data REST, Spring HATEOAS-enabled applications. Each service exposes a rich set of CRUD endpoints for interacting with the service’s data entities. To better understand the Storefront API, each Spring Boot microservice uses SpringFox, which produces automated JSON API documentation for APIs built with Spring. The service builds also include the springfox-swagger-ui web jar, which ships with Swagger UI. Swagger takes the manual work out of API documentation, with a range of solutions for generating, visualizing, and maintaining API docs.

From a web browser, you can use the /swagger-ui/ subdirectory/subpath with any of the three microservices to access the fully-featured Swagger UI (e.g., http://127.0.0.1/accounts/swagger-ui/).

Accounts service Customer entity endpoints

Each service’s data model (POJOs) is also exposed through the Swagger UI.

Accounts service data model

Spring Boot Actuator

Additionally, each service includes Spring Boot Actuator. The Actuator exposes additional operational endpoints, allowing us to observe the running services. With Actuator, you get many features, including access to available operational-oriented endpoints, using the /actuator/ subdirectory/subpath (e.g., http://127.0.0.1/accounts/actuator/). For this demonstration, I have not restricted access to any available Actuator endpoints.

Partial list of Spring Boot Actuator endpoints as seen using Swagger
Partial list of Spring Boot Actuator endpoints as seen using Postman

Conclusion

In this two-part post, we learned how to build an API using Spring Boot. We ensured the API’s distributed data integrity using a pub/sub model with Spring for Apache Kafka Project. When a relevant piece of data was changed by one microservice, that state change triggered a state change event that was shared with other microservices using Kafka topics.

We also learned how to deploy and run the API in a local development environment running on Kubernetes with Istio, using minikube. We have added production-tested observability tools to provide operational visibility, including CMAK, Mongo Express, Kiali, Prometheus, and Grafana.


This blog represents my own viewpoints and not of my employer, Amazon Web Services (AWS). All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners.

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