Monday, May 2, 2016

Approaches to binding a Spring Boot application to a service in Cloud Foundry

If you want to try out Cloud Foundry the simplest way to do that is to download the excellent PCF Dev or to create a trial account at the Pivotal Web Services site.

The rest of the post assumes that you have an installation of Cloud Foundry available to you and that you have a high level understanding of Cloud Foundry. The objective of this post is to list out of the options you have in integrating your Java application to a service instance - this demo uses mysql as a sample service to integrate with but the approach is generic enough.

Overview of the Application

The application is fairly simple Spring-Boot app, it is a REST service exposing three domain types and their relationships, representing a university - Course, Teacher and Student. The domain instances are persisted to a MySQL database. The entire source code and the approaches are available at this github location if you want to jump ahead.

To try the application locally, first install a local mysql server database, on a Mac OSX box with homebrew available, the following set of commands can be run:

brew install mysql

mysql.server start
mysql -u root
# on the mysql prompt: 

CREATE USER 'univadmin'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'univadmin';
CREATE DATABASE univdb;
GRANT ALL ON univdb.* TO 'univadmin'@'localhost';

Bring up the Spring-Boot under cf-db-services-sample-auto:

mvn spring-boot:run

and an endpoint with a sample data will be available at http://localhost:8080/courses.

Trying this application on Cloud Foundry

If you have an installation of PCF Dev running locally, you can try out a deployment of the application the following way:

cf api api.local.pcfdev.io --skip-ssl-validation
cf login # login with admin/admin credentials

Create a Mysql service instance:
cf create-service p-mysql 512mb mydb

and push the app! (manifest.yml provides the binding of the app to the service instance)
cf push

An endpoint should be available at http://cf-db-services-sample-auto.local.pcfdev.io/courses

Approaches to service connectivity


Now that we have an application that works locally and on a sample local Cloud Foundry, these are the approaches to connecting to a service instance.

Approach 1 - Do nothing, let the Java buildpack handle the connectivity details


This approach is demonstrated in the cf-db-services-sample-auto project. Here the connectivity to the local database has been specified using Spring Boot and looks like this:

---

spring:
  jpa:
    show-sql: true
    hibernate.ddl-auto: none
    database: MYSQL

  datasource:
    driverClassName: com.mysql.jdbc.Driver
    url: jdbc:mysql://localhost/univdb?autoReconnect=true&useSSL=false
    username: univadmin
    password: univadmin

When this application is pushed to Cloud Foundry using the Java Buildpack, a component called the java-buildpack-auto-reconfiguration is injected into the application which reconfigures the connectivity to the service based on the runtime service binding.


Approach 2 - Disable Auto reconfiguration and use runtime properties

This approach is demonstrated in the cf-db-services-sample-props project. When a service is bound to an application, there is a set of environment properties injected into the application under the key "VCAP_SERVICES". For this specific service the entry looks something along these lines:

"VCAP_SERVICES": {
  "p-mysql": [
   {
    "credentials": {
     "hostname": "mysql.local.pcfdev.io",
     "jdbcUrl": "jdbc:mysql://mysql.local.pcfdev.io:3306/cf_456d9e1e_e31e_43bc_8e94_f8793dffdad5?user=**\u0026password=***",
     "name": "cf_456d9e1e_e31e_43bc_8e94_f8793dffdad5",
     "password": "***",
     "port": 3306,
     "uri": "mysql://***:***@mysql.local.pcfdev.io:3306/cf_456d9e1e_e31e_43bc_8e94_f8793dffdad5?reconnect=true",
     "username": "***"
    },
    "label": "p-mysql",
    "name": "mydb",
    "plan": "512mb",
    "provider": null,
    "syslog_drain_url": null,
    "tags": [
     "mysql"
    ]
   }
  ]
 }

The raw json is a little unwieldy to consume, however Spring Boot automatically converts this data into a flat set of properties that looks like this:

"vcap.services.mydb.plan": "512mb",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.username": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.port": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.jdbcUrl": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.hostname": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.tags[0]": "mysql",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.uri": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.tags": "mysql",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.name": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.label": "p-mysql",
"vcap.services.mydb.syslog_drain_url": "",
"vcap.services.mydb.provider": "",
"vcap.services.mydb.credentials.password": "******",
"vcap.services.mydb.name": "mydb",

Given this, the connectivity to the database can be specified in a Spring Boot application the following way - in a application.yml file:

spring:
  datasource:
    url: ${vcap.services.mydb.credentials.jdbcUrl}
    username: ${vcap.services.mydb.credentials.username}
    password: ${vcap.services.mydb.credentials.password}

One small catch though is that since I am now explicitly taking control of specifying the service connectivity, the runtime java-buildpack-auto-reconfiguration has to be disabled, which can done by a manifest metadata:
---
applications:
  - name: cf-db-services-sample-props
    path: target/cf-db-services-sample-props-1.0.0.RELEASE.jar
    memory: 512M
    env:
      JAVA_OPTS: -Djava.security.egd=file:/dev/./urandom
      SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE: cloud
    services:
      - mydb

buildpack: https://github.com/cloudfoundry/java-buildpack.git

env:
    JBP_CONFIG_SPRING_AUTO_RECONFIGURATION: '{enabled: false}'

Approach 3 - Using Spring Cloud Connectors

The third approach is to use the excellent Spring Cloud Connectors project and a configuration which specifies a service connectivity looks like this and is demonstrated in the cf-db-services-sample-connector sub-project:

@Configuration
@Profile("cloud")
public  class CloudFoundryDatabaseConfig {

    @Bean
    public Cloud cloud() {
        return new CloudFactory().getCloud();
    }

    @Bean
    public DataSource dataSource() {
        DataSource dataSource = cloud().getServiceConnector("mydb", DataSource.class, null);
        return dataSource;
    }
}

Pros and Cons



These are the Pros and Cons with each of these approaches:

Approaches Pros Cons
Approach 1 - Let Buildpack handle it
1. Simple, the application that works locally will work without any changes on the cloud

1. Magical - the auto-reconfiguration may appear magical to someone who does not understand the underlying flow
2. The number of service types supported is fairly limited -
say for eg, if a connectivity is required to Cassandra then Auto-reconfiguration will not work
Approach 2 - Explicit Properties 1. Fairly straightforward.
2. Follows the Spring Boot approach and uses some of the best practices of Boot based applications - for eg, there is a certain order in which datasource connection pools are created, all those best practices just flow in using this approach.
1. The Auto-reconfiguration will have to be explicitly disabled
2. Need to know what the flattened properties look like
3. A "cloud" profile may have to be manually injected through environment properties to differentiate local development and cloud deployment
4. Difficult to encapsulate reusability of connectivity to newer service types - say Cassandra or DynamoDB.
Approach 3 - Spring Cloud Connectors 1. Simple to integrate
2. Easy to add in re-usable integration to newer service types
1. Bypasses the optimizations of Spring Boot connection pool logic.

Conclusion


My personal preference is to go with Approach 2 as it most closely matches the Spring Boot defaults, not withstanding the cons of the approach. If more complicated connectivity to a service is required I will likely go with approach 3. Your mileage may vary though


References

1. Scott Frederick's spring-music has been a constant guide.
2. I have generously borrowed from Ben Hale's pong_matcher_spring sample.

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