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A docker-compose harness for Envoy to play with the Lyft Ratelimiter
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backend added more explanation to README May 14, 2019
ratelimit-data/ratelimit/config added an alternative ratelimit example May 21, 2019
vegeta added an alternative ratelimit example May 21, 2019
.gitmodules removed ratelimit submodule May 20, 2019
Dockerfile-envoy functional POC May 14, 2019
Dockerfile-redis functional POC May 14, 2019 ported tests to go testing May 21, 2019

Envoy Custom Ratelimiter Via Authorizer

The premise is to

  • Use the authorizer to inject a custom header
  • Pass that header's value to the rate limiter
  • Use it for rate limiting

The moving parts

The call flow is

  • envoy on localhost port 8010
  • checks with the external authorizer (extauth)
  • that external authorizer sets a header
  • envoy then checks with the ratelimiter, which persists it's state in redis
  • if the check passes, it passes it to the backend, which returns a response which includes all the headers which were passed to it

The external authorizer is a tiny bit of custom code, which implements the external authorizer gRPC spec.

For now, it just returns a simple header:

Header: &core.HeaderValue{
	Key:   "x-ext-auth-ratelimit",
	Value: tokenSha,

In real life, this would probably be something like a user ID, or account ID, or the SHA of an API key ... whatever you want to rate limit on that you're aware of in your custom authorizer code.

For the demo, a Bearer token must be passed in, e.g.

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer foo" http://localhost:8010/foo

Instead of checking with an external service, the authorizer verifies that it's exactly 3 characters long. #secure.

For the rate limiting key, a Base64'd and SHA'd version of the token is passed down. This makes it easy to compare different virtual users.

Envoy is configured (in envoy.yaml) to pass whatever value is set in that header, as well as the path the request was for, to the ratelimiter service.

  - stage: 0
	  - {request_headers: {header_name: "x-ext-auth-ratelimit", descriptor_key: "ratelimitkey"}}
	  - {request_headers: {header_name: ":path", descriptor_key: "path"}}

The ratelimiter is the standard lyft ratelimit.

The config is buried down in ratelimit-data/ratelimit/config/config.yaml and is pretty simple:

domain: backend
  - key: ratelimitkey
      - key: path
          requests_per_unit: 2
          unit: second

The domain is defined in the envoy config -- you can make it different for different parts of your service.

This config says to take the values that come with the ratelimitkey and path and build them into a joint key for rate limiting.

An example from the logs shows exactly how this works:

ratelimit_1  | time="2019-05-14T18:48:16Z" level=debug msg="cache key: backend_ratelimitkey_magic_path_/b_1557859696 current: 3"
ratelimit_1  | time="2019-05-14T18:48:16Z" level=debug msg="returning normal response"

The backend is a simple go http service. It prints the headers it gets to make it easy to see what headers are coming in with the request.

Getting ready to build

  • clone the repo
  • You'll also need a local copy of lyft's ratelimit. Submodules were causing some challenges, so it's easiest to git clone

I had to make some manual tweaks to the ratelimit codebase to get it to build -- which may be operator error:

  • mkdir ratelimit/vendor (the Dockerfile expects it to exist already)
  • add a COPY proto proto to the Dockerfile with the rest of the COPY statements

Finally run:

  • docker-compose up. The first one will take some time as it builds everything.


You can ensure that the full stack is working with a simple curl:

$ curl -v -H "Authorization: Bearer foo" http://localhost:8010                                                                                
* Rebuilt URL to: http://localhost:8010/
*   Trying
* Connected to localhost ( port 8010 (#0)
> GET / HTTP/1.1
> Host: localhost:8010
> User-Agent: curl/7.61.1
> Accept: */*
> Authorization: Bearer foo
< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< date: Tue, 21 May 2019 00:23:12 GMT
< content-length: 270
< content-type: text/plain; charset=utf-8< x-envoy-upstream-service-time: 0
< server: envoy
Oh, Hello!
X-Request-Id: 6c03f5f4-e580-4d8f-aee1-7e62ba2c9b30
X-Ext-Auth-Ratelimit: LCa0a2j/xo/5m0U8HTBBNBNCLXBkg7+g+YpeiGJm564=
X-Envoy-Expected-Rq-Timeout-Ms: 15000
User-Agent: curl/7.61.1
Accept: */*
Authorization: Bearer fooX-Forwarded-Proto: http
* Connection #0 to host localhost left intact
Content-Length: 0

There are also some Go tests available in the vegeta directory.

It builds on the vegeta tool, as a library, and runs standard go test library to check various scenarios.

$ make test
cd loadtest && go test -v=== RUN   TestEnvoyStack
=== RUN   TestEnvoyStack/single_authed_path,_target_2qps=== RUN   TestEnvoyStack/2_authed_paths,_single_user,_target_4qps
=== RUN   TestEnvoyStack/1_authed_paths,_dual_user,_target_4qps
=== RUN   TestEnvoyStack/unauthed,_target_0qps
--- PASS: TestEnvoyStack (40.01s)
    --- PASS: TestEnvoyStack/single_authed_path,_target_2qps (10.00s)
    --- PASS: TestEnvoyStack/2_authed_paths,_single_user,_target_4qps (10.00s)
    --- PASS: TestEnvoyStack/1_authed_paths,_dual_user,_target_4qps (10.00s)
    --- PASS: TestEnvoyStack/unauthed,_target_0qps (10.00s)
ok      _/workspace/work/envoy_ratelimit_example/vegeta/loadtest        40.013s
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