Go Protocol Buffer
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Latest commit 53d447e Mar 24, 2017



Docs Gitter

This microservice provides mechanisms for the organization, storage, and retrieval of data in the form of key-value pairs. These pairs can be stored into logical groups, and shared with any device capable of communicating with Iris using Google's gRPC protocol. Iris instances can easily be joined into a cluster, and will then use the Raft Consensus Algorithm to maintain data integrity and provide fault-tolerance.

Running Iris Nodes

Iris uses the Raft Consensus Algorithm. For more information, please read that section below. The first instance of Iris on a given computer can be started with the following command:

iris -cert /path/to/server.crt -key /path/to/server.key -ca /path/to/ca.crt

If files named server.crt, server.key, and ca.crt are located in the directory where the command is issued, you can omit the cert, key, and ca parameters.


By default, running the command will use Stela to discover other instances of Iris. If other instances are found, then this instance will be joined to that existing raft-cluster. If no other instances are found, then this instance will start as the leader of a new raft-cluster.

If you need to run multiple instances of Iris on a single computer, you must provide an alternative port and raftdir for each instance to use at startup. Here is an example of starting two more instances of Iris on a computer that is already running Iris using the default port and raftdir.

iris -port 55000 -raftdir raftDir2
iris -port 56000 -raftdir raftDir3

If you would prefer not to run the Stela service alongside Iris, you can indicate this by providing the -nostela parameter. This will disable service registration and discovery at runtime. If stela usage is disabled, the service will automatically start as the leader of a new raft cluster unless the address of an existing raft-cluster leader is provided using the join parameter. Here is an example of starting two instances of Iris on the same machine without using stela.

// iris defaults to port 32000
iris -nostela       
iris -port 55000 -raftdir raftDir2 -nostela -join :32000

Sources, Keys, and Values

At it's simplest, Iris is about storing and communicating key-value pairs. In these pairs, the Value is represented by a series of bytes, meaning you can share just about any value you need with Iris. When you send data to Iris, you will also send a Key to associate with the value. This is simply a string you will use to refer to this specific data in the future. Finally, you can group a set of key-value pairs into what we call a Source, identified by a provided string. This allows you to manage multiple values that may share the same key across different logical contexts.

  • Source: (string) What logical group would you like to store this information in?
  • Key: (string) What name do you want to use to refer to this data?
  • Value: ([]byte) What value would you like to store or communicate?


Using gRPC's streaming capabilities, Iris can publish data updates to clients that are listening for them. If desired, clients can subscribe and unsubscribe to an entire source, receiving updates when any value is changed for a specified source. Alternatively, clients can be more selective, subscribing and unsubscribing individually to specific key-value pairs for specified sources.

Raft Consensus

When joined as a cluster, Iris instances will use the Raft Consensus Algorithm to elect a leader and maintain data integrity as well as fault-tolerance. Under the hood, we use Hashicorp's raft pacakge to manage this behavior.

Data Persistence

After the raft log has been updated with a given value, the data managed by Iris is stored in a Bolt database titled raft.db within the raft directory specified at startup.

Network Security

Each instance of Iris listens on 2 TCP ports. One port is used for the gRPC API and the other is used for communications between raft-members. The raft port is automatically assigned to the port after the configured for the gRPC API. While the gRPC port needs to be accessible to any clients wishing to use the API, the raft port needs only be accessible to other members of the raft-cluster.

The gRPC API can be secured using Transport Layer Security (TLS) by providing runtime flags representing paths to a SSL certificate and private key for the server, as well as a path to a cert for the certificate authority at startup. By default, the application will attempt to use server.crt, server.key, and ca.crt. This will ensure that all gRPC communication between the server and its clients is encrypted.