Essential Tips To Manage Your gRPC Services With Kong Like A Pro | Hacker Noon

Guilherme Salazar Hacker Noon profile picture

@gszrGuilherme Salazar

Experienced Backend Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the software industry. Currently working at Kong.

gRPC is a remote procedure call (RPC) framework initially developed by Google circa 2015 that has seen growing adoption in recent years. Based on HTTP/2 for transport and Protobuf as Interface Definition Language (IDL), gRPC has several capabilities that traditional REST APIs struggle with, such as bi-directional streaming and efficient binary encoding.

Native gRPC Support

What follows is a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up Kong to proxy gRPC services, demonstrating two possible scenarios. In the first scenario, a single Route entry in Kong matches all gRPC methods from a service. In the second one, I have per-method Routes, which allows me to apply different plugins to specific gRPC methods.

Before starting, install Kong Gateway, if you haven’t already.

As gRPC uses HTTP/2 for transport, it is necessary to enable HTTP/2 proxy listeners in Kong. To do so, add the following property in your Kong configuration:

proxy_listen = 0.0.0.0:9080 http2, 0.0.0.0:9081 http2 ssl

Alternatively, you can also configure the proxy listener with environment variables:

KONG_PROXY_LISTEN="0.0.0.0:9080 http2, 0.0.0.0:9081 http2 ssl" bin/kong restart

In this guide, I’ll assume Kong is listening for HTTP/2 proxy requests on port 9080 and secure HTTP/2 on port 9081.

I’ll use the gRPCurl command-line client and the grpcbin collection of mock gRPC services.

Case 1: Single Service and Route

I’ll begin with a simple setup with a single gRPC Service and Route; all gRPC requests sent to Kong’s proxy port will match the same route.

Issue the following request to create a gRPC Service (assuming your gRPC server is listening in localhost, port 15002):

$ curl -XPOST localhost:8001/services 
  --data name=grpc 
  --data protocol=grpc 
  --data host=localhost 
  --data port=15002

Issue the following request to create a gRPC Route:

$ curl -XPOST localhost:8001/services/grpc/routes 
  --data protocols=grpc 
  --data name=catch-all 
  --data paths=/

Using gRPCurl, issue the following gRPC request:

$ grpcurl -v -d '{"greeting": "Kong 1.3!"}' -plaintext localhost:9080 hello.HelloService.SayHello

The response should resemble the following:

Resolved method descriptor:
rpc SayHello ( .hello.HelloRequest ) returns ( .hello.HelloResponse );
Request metadata to send:
(empty)
Response headers received:
content-type: application/grpc
date: Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:37:36 GMT
server: openresty/1.15.8.1
via: kong/1.2.1
x-kong-proxy-latency: 0
x-kong-upstream-latency: 0
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response trailers received:
(empty)
Sent 1 request and received 1 response

Notice that Kong response headers, such as 

via

 and 

x-kong-proxy-latency

, were inserted in the response.

Case 2: Single Service, Multiple Routes

Now I’ll move on to a more complex use-case, where requests to separate gRPC methods map to different Routes in Kong, allowing for more flexible use of Kong plugins.

Building on top of the previous example, let’s create a few more routes for individual gRPC methods. The gRPC “HelloService” service being used in this example exposes a few different methods, as you can see in its Protobuf definition (obtained from the gRPCbin repository):

syntax = "proto2";
package hello;
service HelloService {
  rpc SayHello(HelloRequest) returns (HelloResponse);
  rpc LotsOfReplies(HelloRequest) returns (stream HelloResponse);
  rpc LotsOfGreetings(stream HelloRequest) returns (HelloResponse);
  rpc BidiHello(stream HelloRequest) returns (stream HelloResponse);
}
message HelloRequest {
  optional string greeting = 1;
}
message HelloResponse {
  required string reply = 1;
}

I’ll create individual routes for its “SayHello” and “LotsOfReplies” methods.

Create a Route for “SayHello”:

$ curl -XPOST localhost:8001/services/grpc/routes 
  --data protocols=grpc 
  --data paths=/hello.HelloService/SayHello 
  --data name=say-hello

Create a Route for “LotsOfReplies”:

$ curl -XPOST localhost:8001/services/grpc/routes 
  --data protocols=grpc 
  --data paths=/hello.HelloService/LotsOfReplies 
  --data name=lots-of-replies

With this setup, gRPC requests to the “SayHello” method will match the first Route, while requests to “LotsOfReplies” will be routed to the latter.

Issue a gRPC request to the “SayHello” method:

$ grpcurl -v -d '{"greeting": "Kong 1.3!"}' 
  -H 'kong-debug: 1' -plaintext 
  localhost:9080 hello.HelloService.SayHello

(Notice I’m are sending a header 

kong-debug

, which causes Kong to insert debugging information as response headers.)

The response should look like this:

Resolved method descriptor:
rpc SayHello ( .hello.HelloRequest ) returns ( .hello.HelloResponse );
Request metadata to send:
kong-debug: 1
Response headers received:
content-type: application/grpc
date: Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:57:00 GMT
kong-route-id: 390ef3d1-d092-4401-99ca-0b4e42453d97
kong-service-id: d82736b7-a4fd-4530-b575-c68d94c3493a
kong-service-name: s1
server: openresty/1.15.8.1
via: kong/1.2.1
x-kong-proxy-latency: 0
x-kong-upstream-latency: 0
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response trailers received:
(empty)
Sent 1 request and received 1 response

Notice the Route ID refers to the first route I created.

Similarly, let’s issue a request to the “LotsOfReplies” gRPC method:

$ grpcurl -v -d '{"greeting": "Kong 1.3!"}' 
  -H 'kong-debug: 1' -plaintext 
  localhost:9080 hello.HelloService.LotsOfReplies

The response should look like the following:

Resolved method descriptor:
rpc LotsOfReplies ( .hello.HelloRequest ) returns ( stream .hello.HelloResponse );
Request metadata to send:
kong-debug: 1
Response headers received:
content-type: application/grpc
date: Tue, 30 Jul 2019 22:21:40 GMT
kong-route-id: 133659bb-7e88-4ac5-b177-bc04b3974c87
kong-service-id: 31a87674-f984-4f75-8abc-85da478e204f
kong-service-name: grpc
server: openresty/1.15.8.1
via: kong/1.2.1
x-kong-proxy-latency: 14
x-kong-upstream-latency: 0
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response contents:
{
  "reply": "hello Kong 1.3!"
}
Response trailers received:
(empty)
Sent 1 request and received 10 responses

Notice that the 

kong-route-id

 response header now carries a different value and refers to the second Route created on this page.

Note: gRPC reflection requests will still be routed to the first route I created (the “catch-all” route) since the request matches neither 

SayHello

 nor

LotsOfReplies

 routes.

Logging and Observability Plugins

As I mentioned earlier, Kong 1.3 gRPC support is compatible with logging and observability plugins. For example, let’s try out the File Log and Zipkin plugins with gRPC.

File Log

Issue the following request to enable File Log on the “SayHello” route:

$ curl -X POST localhost:8001/routes/say-hello/plugins 
  --data name=file-log 
  --data config.path=grpc-say-hello.log

Follow the output of the log as gRPC requests are made to “SayHello”:

$ tail -f grpc-say-hello.log
{"latencies":{"request":8,"kong":5,"proxy":3},"service":{"host":"localhost","created_at":1564527408,"connect_timeout":60000,"id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c","protocol":"grpc","name":"grpc","read_timeout":60000,"port":15002,"updated_at":1564527408,"write_timeout":60000,"retries":5},"request":{"querystring":{},"size":"46","uri":"/hello.HelloService/SayHello","url":"http://localhost:9080/hello.HelloService/SayHello","headers":{"host":"localhost:9080","content-type":"application/grpc","kong-debug":"1","user-agent":"grpc-go/1.20.0-dev","te":"trailers"},"method":"POST"},"client_ip":"127.0.0.1","tries":[{"balancer_latency":0,"port":15002,"balancer_start":1564527732522,"ip":"127.0.0.1"}],"response":{"headers":{"kong-route-id":"e49f2df9-3e8e-4bdb-8ce6-2c505eac4ab6","content-type":"application/grpc","connection":"close","kong-service-name":"grpc","kong-service-id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c","kong-route-name":"say-hello","via":"kong/1.2.1","x-kong-proxy-latency":"5","x-kong-upstream-latency":"3"},"status":200,"size":"298"},"route":{"id":"e49f2df9-3e8e-4bdb-8ce6-2c505eac4ab6","updated_at":1564527431,"protocols":["grpc"],"created_at":1564527431,"service":{"id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c"},"name":"say-hello","preserve_host":false,"regex_priority":0,"strip_path":false,"paths":["/hello.HelloService/SayHello"],"https_redirect_status_code":426},"started_at":1564527732516}
{"latencies":{"request":3,"kong":1,"proxy":1},"service":{"host":"localhost","created_at":1564527408,"connect_timeout":60000,"id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c","protocol":"grpc","name":"grpc","read_timeout":60000,"port":15002,"updated_at":1564527408,"write_timeout":60000,"retries":5},"request":{"querystring":{},"size":"46","uri":"/hello.HelloService/SayHello","url":"http://localhost:9080/hello.HelloService/SayHello","headers":{"host":"localhost:9080","content-type":"application/grpc","kong-debug":"1","user-agent":"grpc-go/1.20.0-dev","te":"trailers"},"method":"POST"},"client_ip":"127.0.0.1","tries":[{"balancer_latency":0,"port":15002,"balancer_start":1564527733555,"ip":"127.0.0.1"}],"response":{"headers":{"kong-route-id":"e49f2df9-3e8e-4bdb-8ce6-2c505eac4ab6","content-type":"application/grpc","connection":"close","kong-service-name":"grpc","kong-service-id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c","kong-route-name":"say-hello","via":"kong/1.2.1","x-kong-proxy-latency":"1","x-kong-upstream-latency":"1"},"status":200,"size":"298"},"route":{"id":"e49f2df9-3e8e-4bdb-8ce6-2c505eac4ab6","updated_at":1564527431,"protocols":["grpc"],"created_at":1564527431,"service":{"id":"74a95d95-fbe4-4ddb-a448-b8faf07ece4c"},"name":"say-hello","preserve_host":false,"regex_priority":0,"strip_path":false,"paths":["/hello.HelloService/SayHello"],"https_redirect_status_code":426},"started_at":1564527733554}

Notice the gRPC requests were logged, with info such as the URI, HTTP verb, and latencies.

Zipkin

Start a Zipkin server:

$ docker run -d --name zipkin -p 9411:9411 openzipkin/zipkin

Enable the Zipkin plugin on the grpc Service:

curl -X POST localhost:8001/services/grpc/plugins 
    --data name=zipkin 
    --data config.http_endpoint=http://127.0.0.1:9411/api/v2/spans 
    --data config.sample_ratio=1

As requests are proxied, new spans will be sent to the Zipkin server and can be visualized through the Zipkin Index page, which is, by default, http://localhost:9411/zipkin:

To display Traces, click “Find Traces”, as shown above. The following screen will list all traces matching the search criteria:

A trace can be expanded by clicking on it:

Spans can also be extended, as displayed below:

Notice that, in this case, it’s a span for a gRPC reflection request.

Previously published at https://konghq.com/blog/manage-grpc-services-kong/

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