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Spring Boot Autoscaler

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Spring Boot Autoscaler

Auto-scaling is something everyone wants, especially in the world of microservices. Let's see how to accomplish it in a Spring Boot-based application.

· Microservices Zone ·
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One of the more important reasons we are deciding to use tools like Kubernetes, Pivotal Cloud Foundry or HashiCorp's Nomad is an availability of auto-scaling our applications. Of course those tools provides many other useful mechanisms, but we can implement auto-scaling by ourselves. At first glance it seems to be difficult, but assuming we use Spring Boot as a framework for building our applications and Jenkins as a CI server, it finally does not require a lot of work. Today, I'm going to show you how to implement such a solution using the following frameworks/tools:

  • Spring Boot
  • Spring Boot Actuator
  • Spring Cloud Netflix Eureka
  • Jenkins CI

How Does It Work?

Every Spring Boot application, which contains the Spring Boot Actuator library can expose metrics under the endpoint /actuator/metrics. There are many valuable metrics that gives you the detailed information about an application status. Some of them may be especially important when talking about autoscaling: JVM, CPU metrics, a number of running threads and a number of incoming HTTP requests. There is dedicated Jenkins pipeline responsible for monitoring application's metrics by polling endpoint /actuator/metrics periodically. If any monitored metrics is below or above target range it runs new instance or shut down a running instance of the application using another Actuator endpoint, /actuator/shutdown. Before that, it needs to fetch the current list of running instances of a single application in order to get an address of existing application selected for shutting down or the address of the server with the smallest number of running instances for a new instance of application.

After discussing an architecture of our system we may proceed to the development. Our application needs to meet some requirements: it has to expose metrics and endpoint for graceful shutdown, it needs to register in Eureka after startup and deregister on shutdown, and finally, it also should dynamically allocate running port randomly from the pool of free ports. Thanks to Spring Boot we may easily implement all these mechanisms if five minutes.

Dynamic Port Allocation

Since it is possible to run many instances of an application on a single machine, we have to guarantee that there won't be conflicts in port numbers. Fortunately, Spring Boot provides such mechanisms for an application. We just need to set the port number to 0 inside application.yml file using the server.port property. Because our application registers itself in eureka it also needs to send unique instanceId, which is by default generated as a concatenation of fields spring.cloud.client.hostname, spring.application.name and server.port.
Here's current configuration of our sample application. I have changed the template of the instanceId field by replacing the number of the port to a randomly generated number.

spring:
  application:
    name: example-service
server:
  port: ${PORT:0}
eureka:
  instance:
    instanceId: ${spring.cloud.client.hostname}:${spring.application.name}:${random.int[1,999999]}

Enabling Actuator Metrics

To enable Spring Boot Actuator we need to include the following dependency to pom.xml.

<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-actuator</artifactId>
</dependency>

We also have to enable exposure of actuator endpoints via HTTP API by setting the property management.endpoints.web.exposure.include to '*'. Now, the list of all available metric names is available under context path /actuator/metrics, while detailed information for each metric under path /actuator/metrics/{metricName}.

Graceful Shutdown

Besides metrics, Spring Boot Actuator also provides an endpoint for shutting down an application. However, in contrast to other endpoints, this endpoint is not available by default. We have to set property management.endpoint.shutdown.enabled to true. After that, we will be to stop our application by sending a POST request to the /actuator/shutdown endpoint.

This method of stopping application guarantees that service will unregister itself from Eureka server before shutdown.

Enabling Eureka Discovery

Eureka is the most popular discovery server used for building microservices-based architecture with Spring Cloud. So, if you already have microservices and want to provide auto-scaling mechanisms for them, Eureka would be a natural choice. It contains IP address and port number of every registered instance of the application. To enable Eureka on the client side you just need to include the following dependency to your pom.xml.

<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-client</artifactId>
</dependency>

As I have mentioned before we also have to guarantee an uniqueness of instanceId send to Eureka server by client-side application. It has been described in the step "Dynamic port allocation."

The next step is to create an application with an embedded Eureka server. To achieve it we first need to include the following dependency inpom.xml.

<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.cloud</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-netflix-eureka-server</artifactId>
</dependency>

The main class should be annotated with @EnableEurekaServer.

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableEurekaServer
public class DiscoveryApp {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        new SpringApplicationBuilder(DiscoveryApp.class).run(args);
    }

}

Client-side applications by default tries to connect with Eureka server on localhost under port 8761. We only need single, standalone Eureka node, so we will disable registration and attempts to fetching list of services form another instances of server.

spring:
  application:
    name: discovery-service
server:
  port: ${PORT:8761}
eureka:
  instance:
    hostname: localhost
  client:
    registerWithEureka: false
    fetchRegistry: false
    serviceUrl:
      defaultZone: http://localhost:8761/eureka/

The tests of the sample autoscaling system will be performed using Docker containers, so we need to prepare and build image with Eureka server. Here's Dockerfile with image definition. It can be built using command docker build -t piomin/discovery-server:2.0 ..

FROM openjdk:8-jre-alpine
ENV APP_FILE discovery-service-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
ENV APP_HOME /usr/apps
EXPOSE 8761
COPY target/$APP_FILE $APP_HOME/
WORKDIR $APP_HOME
ENTRYPOINT ["sh", "-c"]
CMD ["exec java -jar $APP_FILE"]

Building a Jenkins Pipeline for Autoscaling

The first step is to prepare Jenkins pipeline responsible for autoscaling. We will create Jenkins Declarative Pipeline, which runs every minute. Periodical execution may be configured with the triggers directive, that defines the automated ways in which the pipeline should be re-triggered. Our pipeline will communicate with Eureka server and metrics endpoints exposed by every microservice using Spring Boot Actuator.
The test service name is EXAMPLE-SERVICE, which is equal to value (big letters) of property spring.application.name defined inside application.yml file. The monitored metric is the number of HTTP listener threads running on Tomcat container. These threads are responsible for processing incoming HTTP requests.

pipeline {
    agent any
    triggers {
        cron('* * * * *')
    }
    environment {
        SERVICE_NAME = "EXAMPLE-SERVICE"
        METRICS_ENDPOINT = "/actuator/metrics/tomcat.threads.busy?tag=name:http-nio-auto-1"
        SHUTDOWN_ENDPOINT = "/actuator/shutdown"
    }
    stages { ... }
}

Integrating Jenkins Pipeline With Eureka

The first stage of our pipeline is responsible for fetching a list of services registered on the service discovery server. Eureka exposes HTTP API with several endpoints. One of them is GET /eureka/apps/{serviceName}, which returns a list of all instances of application with given name. We are saving the number of running instances and the URL of metrics endpoint of every single instance. These values would be accessed during the next stages of the pipeline.

Here's the fragment of pipeline responsible for fetching a list of running instances of the application. The name of the stage is Calculate. We use HTTP Request Plugin for HTTP connections.

stage('Calculate') {
 steps {
  script {
   def response = httpRequest "http://192.168.99.100:8761/eureka/apps/${env.SERVICE_NAME}"
   def app = printXml(response.content)
   def index = 0
   env["INSTANCE_COUNT"] = app.instance.size()
   app.instance.each {
    if (it.status == 'UP') {
     def address = "http://${it.ipAddr}:${it.port}"
     env["INSTANCE_${index++}"] = address
    }
   }
  }
 }
}

@NonCPS
def printXml(String text) {
 return new XmlSlurper(false, false).parseText(text)
}

Here's a sample response from Eureka API for our microservice. The response content type is XML.

Integrating Jenkins Pipeline With Spring Boot Actuator Metrics

Spring Boot Actuator exposes endpoint with metrics, which allows us to find the metric by name and optionally by tag. In the fragment of pipeline visible below, I'm trying to find the instance with metric below or above a defined threshold. If there is such an instance we stop the loop in order to proceed to the next stage, which performs scaling down or up. The IP addresses of running applications are taken from pipeline environment variable with prefix INSTANCE_, which has been saved in the previous stage.

stage('Metrics') {
	steps {
		script {
			def count = env.INSTANCE_COUNT
			for(def i=0; i<count; i++) {
				def ip = env["INSTANCE_${i}"] + env.METRICS_ENDPOINT
				if (ip == null)
					break;
				def response = httpRequest ip
				def objRes = printJson(response.content)
				env.SCALE_TYPE = returnScaleType(objRes)
				if (env.SCALE_TYPE != "NONE")
					break
			}
		}
	}
}

@NonCPS
def printJson(String text) {
    return new JsonSlurper().parseText(text)
}

def returnScaleType(objRes) {
    def value = objRes.measurements[0].value
    if (value.toInteger() > 100)
	    return "UP"
    else if (value.toInteger() < 20)
	    return "DOWN"
    else
	    return "NONE"
}

Shutdown Application Instance

In the last stage of our pipeline, we will shut down the running instance or start new instance depending on the result saved in the previous stage. Shutdown may be easily performed by calling Spring Boot Actuator endpoint. In the following fragment of the pipeline, we pick the instance returned by Eureka as first. Then we send POST request to that ip address.

If we need to scale up our application we call another pipeline responsible for build fat JAR and launch it on our machine.

stage('Scaling') {
 steps {
  script {
   if (env.SCALE_TYPE == 'DOWN') {
    def ip = env["INSTANCE_0"] + env.SHUTDOWN_ENDPOINT
    httpRequest url: ip, contentType: 'APPLICATION_JSON', httpMode: 'POST'
   } else if (env.SCALE_TYPE == 'UP') {
    build job: 'spring-boot-run-pipeline'
   }
   currentBuild.description = env.SCALE_TYPE
  }
 }
}

Here's a full definition of our pipeline spring-boot-run-pipeline responsible for starting a new instance of the application. It clones the repository with application source code, builds binaries using Maven commands, and finally runs the application using the java -jar command passing address of Eureka server as a parameter.

pipeline {
    agent any
    tools {
        maven 'M3'
    }
    stages {
        stage('Checkout') {
            steps {
                git url: 'https://github.com/piomin/sample-spring-boot-autoscaler.git', credentialsId: 'github-piomin', branch: 'master'
            }
        }
        stage('Build') {
            steps {
                dir('example-service') {
                    sh 'mvn clean package'
                }
            }
        }
        stage('Run') {
            steps {
                dir('example-service') {
                    sh 'nohup java -jar -DEUREKA_URL=http://192.168.99.100:8761/eureka target/example-service-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar 1>/dev/null 2>logs/runlog &'
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

Remote Extension

The algorithm discussed in the previous sections will work fine only for microservices launched on the single machine. If we would like to extend it to work with many machines, we will have to modify our architecture as shown below. Each machine has Jenkins agent running and communicating with Jenkins master. If we would like to start a new instance of microservices on the selected machine, we have to run the pipeline using the agent running on that machine. This agent is responsible only for building the application from the source code and launching it on the target machine. The shutdown of the instance is still performed just by calling HTTP endpoint.

You can find more information about running Jenkins agents and connecting them with Jenkins master via JNLP protocol in my article Jenkins nodes on Docker containers. Assuming we have successfully launched some agents on the target machines we need to parametrize our pipelines in order to be able to select agent (and therefore the target machine) dynamically.
When we are scaling up our application we have to pass agent label to the downstream pipeline.

build job:'spring-boot-run-pipeline', parameters:[string(name: 'agent', value:"slave-1")]

The calling pipeline will be ran by agent labelled with given parameter.

pipeline {
    agent {
        label "${params.agent}"
    }
    stages { ... }
}

If we have more than one agent connected to the master node we can map their addresses into the labels. Thanks to that you would be able to map the IP address of the microservice instance fetched from Eureka to the target machine with Jenkins agent.

pipeline {
    agent any
    triggers {
        cron('* * * * *')
    }
    environment {
        SERVICE_NAME = "EXAMPLE-SERVICE"
        METRICS_ENDPOINT = "/actuator/metrics/tomcat.threads.busy?tag=name:http-nio-auto-1"
        SHUTDOWN_ENDPOINT = "/actuator/shutdown"
        AGENT_192.168.99.102 = "slave-1"
        AGENT_192.168.99.103 = "slave-2"
    }
    stages { ... }
}

Summary

In this article, I have demonstrated how to use Spring Boot Actuator metrics in order to scale up/scale down your Spring Boot application. Using basic mechanisms provided by Spring Boot together with Spring Cloud Netflix Eureka and Jenkins you can implement auto-scaling for your applications without getting any other third-party tools. The case described in this article assumes using Jenkins agents on the remote machines to launch the new instance of the application, but you may as well use a tool like Ansible for that. If you would decide to run Ansible playbooks from Jenkins you will not have to launch Jenkins agents on remote machines. The source code with sample applications is available on GitHub.

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Topics:
microservices ,spring boot ,autoscaling ,kubernetes ,eureka ,tutorial ,software architecture

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