Fault Tolerance

In a distributed systems world failures are occurring all the time. Micro attempts to address this with some best practices for fault tolerance. This document describes some of the ways in which they can be configured.

Heartbeating

Heartbeating is a mechanism of refreshing registration in service discovery.

Rationale

Services register with service discovery on startup and deregister on shutdown. Sometimes these services may unexpectedly die, be killed forcefully or face transient network issues. In these cases stale nodes will be left in service discovery. It would be ideal if services were automatically removed.

Solution

Micro supports the option of a register TTL and register interval for this exact reason. TTL specifies how long a registration should exist in discovery after which it expires and is removed. Interval is the time at which a service should re-register to preserve it’s registration in service discovery.

These are options made available in go-micro and as flags in the micro toolkit

Usage

For the micro toolkit simply use the built in flags to set ttl and interval.

micro --register_ttl=30 --register_interval=15 api

This example shows that we’re setting a ttl of 30 seconds with a re-register interval of 15 seconds.

For go-micro, when declaring a micro service you can pass in the options as time.Duration

service := micro.NewService(
        micro.Name("com.example.srv.foo"),
        micro.RegisterTTL(time.Second*30),
        micro.RegisterInterval(time.Second*15),
)

Load Balancing

Load balancing is a way of spreading request load or maintaining high availability

Rationale

There are limitations to availability and scaling with any single process application. If an application dies for any reason you are no longer able to serve requests. If enough request load is sent to the application it may begin to respond slowly or not at all. Sending requests across multiple copies of an application would solve these problems.

Solution

Micro does client side load balancing via the selector interface to spread requests across any number of nodes of a service. When a service is started it registers with service discovery as a service node with a unique address and id. When making a request the micro client uses the selector to decide which node to make the request to. The selector uses the service registry to find the nodes of a service, then use a load balancing strategy such as random hash or round robin to select a node to send the request to.

Usage

Client side load balancing is built into the go-micro client. This is done automatically.

Retries

Retries are a method of retrying a request if it was unsuccessful

Rationale

A request may fail for any number of reasons; network error, request load, application death. In these instances it would be ideal if we could retry the request against a different copy of the application to receive a successful response.

Solution

The micro client includes a mechanism for retrying requests. The selector (mentioned above) returns a Next function which when executed uses a load balancing strategy to return a node from the list. The Next function can be executed multiple times, returning a new node based on the load balancing strategy. With retries set, if a request fails, the Next function will be executed and the request will be retried against a new node.

Usage

Retries can be set as a flag or option to the client. It defaults to 1, meaning 1 attempt at a request.

To change via flag

micro --client_retries=3

To set as an option

client.Init(
	client.Retries(3),
)

Caching Discovery

A discovery cache is a client side cache of service discovery information

Rationale

Service discovery is the core dependency of microservices but can also become a single point of failure if not architected correctly. Every discovery system has its own properties for scaling and high availability. In the event discovery goes down it makes the rest of the system unusable as services do not know how to resolve names to addresses. Discovery can also be a bottleneck if a lookup is done for every request in the system.

Solution

Client side caching is a method of eliminating service discovery as a bottleneck and single point of failure. Micro includes a selector (client side load balancer) which maintains an in memory cache of service discovery information relevant to it. If a cache miss occurs the selector will use the service registry to do a lookup and cache the data. The cache is also periodically TTLed out to ensure stale data does not live on.

Usage

The caching selector can be set by flag or when creating a new service.

As a flag with the toolkit do the following

micro --selector=cache api

Go-micro services can also use the same flag if the Init method is called. Alternatively the selector can be set in code.

import (
	"github.com/micro/go-micro/client"
	"github.com/micro/go-micro/selector/cache"
)

service := micro.NewService(
	micro.Name("com.example.srv.foo"),
)

service.Client().Init(cache.NewSelector())