Getting Started with Microservices using Go, gRPC and Kubernetes

Tin Rabzelj
27 October, 2017

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This article aims to provide a simple introduction to building microservices in Go, using gRPC, and deploying them to a Kubernetes cluster. It shows how to set up two containerized, scalable services, talking to each other using request/response mechanism.

One microservice will be responsible for calculating the greatest common divisor (GCD) of two integers. That's not something that requires building a separate service, but it will serve as an introductory example just fine. The other will serve a public REST API, and depend on first service when needed.

Prerequisites

The best way to get a running Kubernetes cluster for development, at least for now, is to use Minikube.

Install Minikube, kubectl, Docker and Protocol Buffers compiler.

Run Minikube. Certain commands will require root privileges.

$ minikube start [--vm-driver=<driver>]
$ kubectl cluster-info

To speed up the development, set docker to reuse Docker daemon running inside the Minikube virtual machine.

$ eval $(minikube docker-env)

This way, you don't have to push images to a Docker registry. For running your apps on Google Container Engine you'd use Container Registry or set up a private container registry inside the cluster.

Defining communication protocol

Services will interact synchronously, which means a client calls a service and waits for the response. One of the popular frameworks, that provides this functionality, is gRPC. To use it, you need to write definitions for message types and services in Protocol Buffer's interface definition language and compile them.

Create gcd.proto file inside pb directory, which is located inside your project's root directory.

syntax = "proto3";

package pb;

message GCDRequest {
  uint64 a = 1;
  uint64 b = 2;
}

message GCDResponse {
  uint64 result = 1;
}

service GCDService {
  rpc Compute (GCDRequest) returns (GCDResponse) {}
}

Navigate to the pb directory and run the following command.

$ protoc -I . --go_out=plugins=grpc:. ./*.proto

Compilation should produce gcd.pb.go file.

Greatest common divisor service

The GCD service will use auto-generated code to serve a RPC endpoint which calculates the GCD.

Create main.go file inside gcd directory. Make sure you import correct packages.

package main
import (
	"log"
  "net"
  // Change this for your own project
	"github.com/tinrab/kubernetes-go-grpc-tutorial/pb"
	context "golang.org/x/net/context"
	"google.golang.org/grpc"
	"google.golang.org/grpc/reflection"
)

In the main function, register a server type which will handle requests. Then start the gRPC server.

type server struct{}

func main() {
	lis, err := net.Listen("tcp", ":3000")
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to listen: %v", err)
	}
	s := grpc.NewServer()
	pb.RegisterGCDServiceServer(s, &server{})
	reflection.Register(s)
	if err := s.Serve(lis); err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to serve: %v", err)
	}
}

Declare the Compute handler function. This makes the server type conform to the auto-generated pb.GCDServiceServer interface.

func (s *server) Compute(ctx context.Context, r *pb.GCDRequest) (*pb.GCDResponse, error) {
	a, b := r.A, r.B
	for b != 0 {
		a, b = b, a%b
	}
	return &pb.GCDResponse{Result: a}, nil
}

Frontend API service

Frontend service uses gin web framework to serve a REST API and calls the GCD service for the actual calculation.

Create a client to communicate with the GCD service inside main function. Because Kubernetes (v1.3+) has a built-in DNS service, you can refer to the GCD service with the name "gcd-service", defined later on.

func main() {
	conn, err := grpc.Dial("gcd-service:3000", grpc.WithInsecure())
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Dial failed: %v", err)
	}
	gcdClient := pb.NewGCDServiceClient(conn)
}

After that, declare a handler for /gcd/:a/:b endpoint which reads parameters A and B, and then calls the GCD service.

r := gin.Default()
r.GET("/gcd/:a/:b", func(c *gin.Context) {
  // Parse parameters
  a, err := strconv.ParseUint(c.Param("a"), 10, 64)
  if err != nil {
    c.JSON(http.StatusBadRequest, gin.H{"error": "Invalid parameter A"})
    return
  }
  b, err := strconv.ParseUint(c.Param("b"), 10, 64)
  if err != nil {
    c.JSON(http.StatusBadRequest, gin.H{"error": "Invalid parameter B"})
    return
  }
  // Call GCD service
  req := &pb.GCDRequest{A: a, B: b}
  if res, err := gcdClient.Compute(c, req); err == nil {
    c.JSON(http.StatusOK, gin.H{
      "result": fmt.Sprint(res.Result),
    })
  } else {
    c.JSON(http.StatusInternalServerError, gin.H{"error": err.Error()})
  }
})

Run the server.

if err := r.Run(":3000"); err != nil {
  log.Fatalf("Failed to run server: %v", err)
}

Building Docker images

Now that your services are ready, you need to containerize them. Create Dockerfiles, one for each service, inside your project's root directory. Dockerfiles can't be located in a subdirectory, because Docker's COPY command can't copy files from the parent directory, which is needed in this example.

Create Dockerfile.api.

FROM golang:1.9.1

# Change this path!
WORKDIR /go/src/github.com/tinrab/kubernetes-go-grpc-tutorial/api
COPY api .
COPY pb ../pb

RUN go get -v ./...
RUN go install -v ./...

EXPOSE 3000

CMD [ "api" ]

And the Dockerfile.gcd.

FROM golang:1.9.1

WORKDIR /go/src/github.com/tinrab/kubernetes-go-grpc-tutorial/gcd
COPY gcd .
COPY pb ../pb

RUN go get -v ./...
RUN go install -v ./...

EXPOSE 3000

CMD [ "gcd" ]

Build both images. If you switched to Minikube's Docker daemon, they will become available inside the VM.

$ docker build -t local/gcd -f Dockerfile.gcd .
$ docker build -t local/api -f Dockerfile.api .

Deploying to Kubernetes cluster

For each service, you'll need to configure two Kubernetes objects—a deployment and a service.

Explained simply, deployments manage sets of pods to keep the "desired state" of the cluster. Pods are collections of containers. Because they are created and destroyed dynamically, services are needed to provide fixed addresses by which to access them. Which pods are targeted by which services, is determined by label selectors.

Configuration files below are fairly standard. The important parts to keep note of are the ports, names of Docker images built earlier, and labels. Also, imagePullPolicy is set to Never to ensure Kubernetes uses images built locally.

Create gcd.yaml file. It declares a deployment and a service in the same file. Another practice is to separate them into gcd-deployment.yaml and gcd-service.yaml.

apiVersion: apps/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: gcd-deployment
  labels:
    app: gcd
spec:
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: gcd
  replicas: 3
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: gcd
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: gcd
        image: local/gcd
        imagePullPolicy: Never
        ports:
        - name: gcd-service
          containerPort: 3000
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: gcd-service
spec:
  selector:
    app: gcd
  ports:
  - port: 3000
    targetPort: gcd-service

Create api.yaml file. The service type is set to NodePort, which makes this service accessible outside of the cluster. For the GCD service, this is set to a default value of ClusterIP, which means a "cluster-internal" IP address.

apiVersion: apps/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: api-deployment
  labels:
    app: api
spec:
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: api
  replicas: 1
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: api
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: api
        image: local/api
        imagePullPolicy: Never
        ports:
        - name: api-service
          containerPort: 3000
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: api-service
spec:
  type: NodePort
  selector:
    app: api
  ports:
  - port: 3000
    targetPort: api-service

To create these resources inside the cluster, run the following commands.

$ kubectl create -f api.yaml
$ kubectl create -f gcd.yaml

Check if all pods are running. By specifying -w flag, you can watch for changes.

$ kubectl get pods -w
NAME                             READY     STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
api-deployment-778049682-3vd0z   1/1       Running   0          3s
gcd-deployment-544390878-0zgc8   1/1       Running   0          2s
gcd-deployment-544390878-p78g0   1/1       Running   0          2s
gcd-deployment-544390878-r26nx   1/1       Running   0          2s

As set in the configuration files, API service runs on a single pod and the GCD service runs on 3.

Get the URL of the API service.

$ minikube service api-service --url

Finally, try it out.

$ curl http://192.168.99.100:32602/gcd/294/462

Conclusion

This article showed how to get a simple stateless application running on a Kubernetes cluster. Future posts will demonstrate more thorough and interesting examples of building applications with Go and Kubernetes.

Until then, learn more about concepts of Kubernetes and find out how to perform specific tasks.

Entire source code is available on GitHub.

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