Clustered IPVS load balancer control plane with Docker integration
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README.md

Cluster Frontend

clusterf is a clustered L3 loadbalancer control plane. It uses CoreOS etcd as a configuration backend, supports the Linux built-in IPVS TCP/UDP load balancer, and provides Docker integration.

The clusterf-docker daemon runs on the docker hosts, and enumerates the Docker API for running containers to synchronizes any labeled services into the etcd /clusterf configuration store. The daemon continues to listen for Docker events to update any container state changes to the backend configurations, adding and removing backends as existing containers go away or new containers are started.

The clusterf-ipvs daemon runs on the cluster frontend hosts with external connectivity, and enumerates configured service frontend+backends from the etcd /clusterf configuration store to synchronizes the in-kernel IPVS configuration. The daemon continues to watch for etcd changes to update the live IPVS service state.

The system essentially acts as a L4-aware L3 routed network, routing packets at the L3 layer based on L4 information.

Highlights

The use of etcd as a distributed share configuration backend allows the seamless operation of multiple clusterf-docker hosts and multiple clusterf-ipvs hosts, with changes to service state on backend nodes being immediately propagated to all frontend nodes.

In terms of performance, the clusterf daemons act as a control-plane only: the actual packet-handling data plane is implemented by the IPVS code inside the Linux kernel, and forwarded packets do not need to pass through user-space.

Example

$ sudo ipvsadm
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn
  
$ etcdctl set /clusterf/services/test/frontend '{"ipv4": "10.107.107.107", "tcp": 1337}'
{"ipv4": "10.107.107.107", "tcp": 1337}
$ sudo ipvsadm
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn
TCP  10.107.107.107:1337 wlc

$ etcdctl set /clusterf/services/test/backends/test3-1 '{"ipv4": "10.3.107.1", "tcp": 1337}'
{"ipv4": "10.3.107.1", "tcp": 1337}
$ sudo ipvsadm
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn
TCP  10.107.107.107:1337 wlc
  -> 10.3.107.1:1337              Masq    10     0          0         

$ etcdctl set /clusterf/services/test/backends/test3-2 '{"ipv4": "10.3.107.2", "tcp": 1337}'
{"ipv4": "10.3.107.2", "tcp": 1337}
$ sudo ipvsadm -L -n
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn
TCP  10.107.107.107:1337 wlc
  -> 10.3.107.1:1337              Masq    10     0          0         
  -> 10.3.107.2:1337              Masq    10     0          0         

$ etcdctl set /clusterf/services/test/backends/test3-2 '{"ipv4": "10.3.107.2", "tcp": 1338}'
{"ipv4": "10.3.107.2", "tcp": 1338}
$ sudo ipvsadm -L -n
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn
TCP  10.107.107.107:1337 wlc
  -> 10.3.107.1:1337              Masq    10     0          0         
  -> 10.3.107.2:1338              Masq    10     0          0         

$ etcdctl rm --recursive /clusterf/services/test
$ sudo ipvsadm -L -n
IP Virtual Server version 1.2.1 (size=4096)
Prot LocalAddress:Port Scheduler Flags
  -> RemoteAddress:Port           Forward Weight ActiveConn InActConn

Docker integration

The docker integration uses container (image) labels:

net.qmsk.clusterf.service=$service
net.qmsk.clusterf.backend.tcp=$port
net.qmsk.clusterf.backend.udp=$port

A container can also be a backend in multiple different services:

net.qmsk.clusterf.service="$service1 $service2"
net.qmsk.clusterf.backend:$service.tcp=$port
net.qmsk.clusterf.backend:$service.udp=$port

As an example:

docker run --rm -it --expose 8080 -l net.qmsk.clusterf.service=test -l net.qmsk.clusterf.backend.tcp=8080 ...

The ports must be EXPOSE'd on the container, but do not necessarily need to be published. The backend will be configured using the internal address of the container.

Additional features

Local configuration

The clusterf-ipvs --config-source=file:///... flag can be used to load configuration from a local filesystem tree, which is merged with the configuration in etcd. The structure of the configuration nodes is the same as in etcd.

This can be used to customize the set of services/routes per node.

Forwarding configuration

The forwarding method for IPVS destinations can be configured in aggregate for different sets of backends via /clusterf/routes/..., using IPv4 address prefix information to represent the network topology:

$ etcdctl get /clusterf/routes/test3
{"Prefix":"10.3.107.0/24","IPVSMethod":"masq"}

This means that any backends configured under 10.3.107.0/24 will be configured with an IPVS masq forwarding-method.

Routed backends

The clusterf code additionally supports the use of routed backends, to redirect traffic to a set of backends via some intermediate gateway:

{"Prefix":"10.6.107.0/24",Gateway":"10.107.107.6","IPVSMethod":"droute"}

The backend's IPVS dest will be added using the given gateway address (retaining the service's frontend port) in place of the dest's host:port address.

This feature enables the separaration of the IPVS traffic handling into two tiers: a scaleable and fault-tolerant stateless frontend tier using IPVS droute forwarding, plus a simple-to-configure stateful intermediate tier using IPVS masq forwarding.

The clusterf-ipvs --filter-routes=file:// flag can be used to override any routes in etcd on the intermediate tier, which can be used to limit IPVS destinations to local backends only.

The clusterf-docker --route-* flags can be used to advertise routes for local docker networks into etcd for use by the frontend IPVS tier.

Weighted backends

Each backend can define its own weight, which can be updated at runtime. Backends with a higher weight will recieve proportionally more connections.

A backend weight of zero will prevent new connections being scheduled for the backend, allowing existing connections to continue.

This is used in clusterf-docker for graceful container shutdowns. Containers going through the kill -> die -> stop lifecycle will be marked as not running and have their weight set to zero while stopping, before being removed. See Issue #5 for an example.

Backend merging

Overlapping backends are merged. This will happen if multiple backends for a given service resolve to the same IPVS host:port, typically as a result of a route aggregating a set of backends to an intermediate frontend.

The merging is based on the backend weight. The IPVS weight of the merged destination is calculated from the weights of all merged backends, and updated as backends are added/removed/reweighted.

Soft restart

The clusterf-ipvs command will read the initial kernel IPVS configuration at startup, and only apply the necessary operations to update it to the current configuration. Restarting clusterf-ipvs should thus not affect active connections.

You can also use clusterf-ipvs --noop to verify that the code and configuration behave as expected.

Known issues

  • The clusterf-docker daemon is limited in terms of the policy configuration available. It assumes the docker networks are globally addressed and routable from the frontend.
  • {"IPVSMethod":"masq"} does not work with hairpinning from docker containers to backends running on the same host. This would require workarounds to deal with the asymmetric routing across the docker host bridge.
  • IPv6 configuration is supported, but untested. IPv4 -> IPv6 frontend/backends are in theory supported, but untested and pending IPVS support for the kernel interface.

Future ideas

  • Implement a docker networking extension to configure the public VIP directly within the docker container. Removes the need for DNAT on the docker host, as forwaded traffic can be routed directly to the container.
  • Implement health-checking for service backends within clusterf-ipvs. Currently we rely on clusterf-docker removing backends for failed docker containers, and etcd TTL expiry if the docker host fails. See Issue #1.
  • Implement stats monitoring for the IPVS connection state, using statsd, influxdb etc. The clusterf daemon would be capable of associating the IPVS services and connections with the etcd-named services and backends for better naming of the stats.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Academy of Finland project "Cloud Security Services" (CloSe) at Aalto University Department of Communications and Networking.