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README.md

Rafay Pingmesh

This application builds on Rafay perftest to measure and report the network performance and availability of a set of peers set up in a mesh, all testing one another. The peers can publish measurements to CloudWatch, as well as logging to stdout. Looking at the data you may notice some unusual changes in network behavior based on direction and by time of day. Tracking this data can help inform container placement or application routing decisions.

The pingmesh uses code from the open source perftest application, plus AWS SDK components. It's based on golang 1.12 with modules, so dependencies will be pulled down automatically if you also have a modern version go.

Description

The mesh requires two or more pingmesh applications that can connect to each other via HTTP(S) over TCP/IP. They can run within private IP address space as long as they have internal connectivity. You can identify them with either host names or IP addresses as shown in examples below.

The app needs public IP connectivity to publish metrics to CloudWatch, if you want to use that to view metrics. Of course you can alter the code to publish anywhere you like...

I shared some more information, including a couple of performance graphs in a blog post on LinkedIn if you want to check that out.

Prerequisites

Pingmesh is written in golang, which you can install using the instructions here.

If you don't want to build from go source you can run a pre-built version I have published to DockerHub (see "Run from Docker" below). In this case you will need the Docker environment.

Usage

The command's usage string below briefly explains the options. The examples later show them in action.

Usage: cmd/pingmesh/pingmesh [flags] endpoints...
endpoints: zero or more hostnames or IP addresses, they will be targets
of pinger client requests.  Repeats the request every $delay seconds.
If a port selected (-s servePort) then start a web server on that port.
If a pinger client fails enough times the process exits with an error.
You can interrupt it with ^C (SIGINT) or SIGTERM.

Command line flags:
  -H string
    	My hostname (should resolve to accessible IPs)
  -I string
    	remote peer IP address override
  -L string
    	HTTP client's location to report
  -c	publish metrics to CloudWatch
  -d int
    	delay in seconds between ping requests (default 10)
  -n int
    	number of tests to each endpoint (default 0 runs until interrupted)
  -q	be less verbose
  -r int
    	server port to report as SrvPort (Rafay translates ports in edge)
  -s int
    	server listen port; default zero means don't run a server
  -v	be more verbose

In addition, some options can be controlled via environment variables. This makes it easier to deploy on the Rafay distributed computing platform, and likely on other similar platforms.

Version 0.4.3 improves the CloudWatch reporting for non-pingmesh peers.

How to Build and Run

You can build either a standalone image, which can run on your local system and others like it, or a docker image, which runs on any docker environment. To get started:

  • Clone this repo.
  • Use make standalone to build a local standalone app, and make test to run the local instance with some default parameters so you an try it out.
  • Use make docker to build a docker image, and make push to push the container to DockerHub using credentials from your environment.

Once you've built the app you can run it either standalone or as a docker. It's most useful if you have multiple instances that know about each other, so find a couple of systems, perhaps running in Kubernetes clusters. You can also run an asymmetric test, which is basically just perftest. See the perftest page linked above for details of the output format.

Use Case Examples

First run one instance of pingmesh on your local laptop or a server, either as a docker or standalone. The example shows running from a local executable while you are in the base directory of pingmesh. I like the -v flag for verbose output while I'm testing so you'll see that in most of my tests.

make standalone
cmd/pingmesh/pingmesh -v -s 8080 -n=5 -d=2 "http://localhost:8080/v1/ping"

The above runs a server listening on port 8080 and pings itself five times, very much like a perftest use case. You can add multiple hostnames, for example add "www.google.com" to the end of the above and see what happens.

Exercising the Server

Let's look at the server control options. First, fire up a bare server instance.

make standalone
cmd/pingmesh/pingmesh -v -s 8080 -n=5 -d=2

The server is listening for requests via a web interface (rudimentary API). Here are the requests you can make and what you should expect to see. You can make these API requests with a web browser, with the curl utility, or from code if you wish (like we do pkg/server/server.go:fetchRemoteServer to invoke our own API to fetch a peer's peers).

Start with a web browser. Enter the address localhost:8080/v1/ and hit RETURN.

The Base Page /v1 has links to the other interesting application pages:

  • get a ping response -- /v1/ping -- returns a short page with location in HTML
  • get a list of peers -- /v1/peers -- the endpoints that are being monitored
  • add a ping peer -- /v1/addpeer -- adds a peer to the monitored list
  • get memory statistics -- /v1/memstats -- see some stats about this server
  • shut down this pinger -- /v1/quit -- "does what it says on the tin"

The most interesting are peers and addpeer. When you first run the server (without URLs as the example above) you'll see an empty page. Try running with its own localhost (loopback) URL: then you'll see one peer when it starts up.

Add Ping Targets /v1/addpeer takes any URL, including the /v1/ping endpoint of a pingmesh peer, or regular web URLs (as with perftest). For example:

You can override the IP address for any of these hostnames if you want to ping a specific instance, while still sending the correct host header. The host header must be correct for services using TLS (SSL) Server Name Indication (SNI), which is done for most interesting internet requests. Here's an example:

If you want your location to show up correctly be sure to set REP_LOCATION. I use City,CC (where CC is the ISO country code).

Adding Peers Peers

To build the mesh go to the addpeers form page and enter the URL of a pingmesh peer, ending with /v1/peers?addpeers=true (add a query string flag to the get peers request for the remote server). If it's a pingmesh instance you may want to specify an IP override. Now the server will ask a peer for its peers, and add them to its list. This is how we build the mesh.

We detect duplication of the hostname and IP address to prevent the obvious explosive of entries. In the future we'll add a feature to automatically grow the mesh, but this one requires extra care to avoid internet worm syndrome. So keep watch for future versions.


Run on Rafay

To measure WAN performance you need to have multiple instances deployed to diverse wide geographic and/or network locations. Distribution and operation of containerized microservices like pingmesh used to be pretty hard, but we're working to simplify the experience.

Rafay Systems delivers a SaaS-based platform that automates operations and lifecycle management for containerized applications. For both enterprises and service providers, Rafay's platform delivers unique dynamic application placement and distribution capabilities, making it ideal for multi-region, multi-cloud, hybrid, and edge/MEC operations.

Rafay provides a sandbox platform that's free to try, with Kubernetes clusters running in diverse geographic and network locations. Let's give it a try! And don't worry, you don't have to know anything about Kubernetes to use the platform. If you do, you can access power user features.

Creating a Rafay Workload

First, you build a docker container with make docker. You don't need to push it to DockerHub, you will publish it to the Rafay registry via a CLI tool we provide.

To run a workload on the Rafay Platform you will need to sign up for an account (they are free) and then configure the workload to run on one or more edges. Refer to the perftest README for how to sign up, login to the Rafay admin console, initialize the Rafay CLI, and upload your container.

Configure Workload

Once logged in to the Admin Console go to the Workloads page and click New Workload. Enter a name, and description, like this:

Field Value
Name my-pingmesh
Description Performance testing application

I am creating this in my organization's default namespace, JADe Systems. Your org name will populate in the Namespace box, you don't need to do anything with this for now.

The next screen lets you configure your container. Click on New Container.

The Container Name is pingmesh. Choose the image name and tag name from above. This image does not use any ports, you can leave the default port 80 there.

Select a size and initial replica count. The micro size is fine for this app, and there should only be one replica.

Now select the Startup Configuration section. This is where we'll specify what test we are going to run and where to send the output.

Click Add Startup Configuration and select Environment Variable. Fill in with values like this, clicking Add Startup Configuration as needed:

Name Value Comments
PINGMESH_HOSTNAME The local hostname Shared in /v1/peers as JSON as "SrvHost"
PINGMESH_URL A pingmesh endpoint In addition to args, can be used for "ping master"
REP_LOCATION City,CC (ISO country code) Sent to CloudWatch, in stdout, and JSON "SrvLoc"
AWS_REGION your AWS preferred region CloudWatch region
AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID your AWS access key id CloudWatch credentials
AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY your AWS secret access key CloudWatch credentials
PINGMESH_LIMIT Number of tests Overrides the -n option (env var has precedence)
PINGMESH_DELAY Time between requests Overrides the -d option (env has precedence)

If you leave these marked Secure they will not appear in the UI and will be transmitted securely to the Rafay platform.

Click "Save and Return to Container List".

You will see selections for log aggregation, shared volumes, and a key-value store. This application doesn't need any of that so let's move on ...

Click "Save and go to Policies".

Publish the Workload

The next screen lets you choose how to upgrade the container when a new one is published. We support Recreate (the default) which kills the running container and starts a new one. This is fine for pingmesh, but for a container with user interaction you may prefer a gentler upgrade policy.

Click "Save and go to Placement".

Now we choose where to run the application. You'll see "Specific Locations" in the dropdown and a list of cities to choose from. We also support a "Performance" policy if your container takes user requests: we can place it near the user base for that workload, automatically adjusting placement as the situation changes. But for this workload we just choose one location and try it from there.

Click "Save and go to Publish" for the final step.

Click "Publish". You will see a pin bouncing at the location you specified. It will turn green in a minute or so if deployment succeeds.

When you're done, click "Unpublish" to stop the workload running.

Or you can change the runtime configuration settings (environment variables) if you want to test a different target. Or change Placement if you want to test from a different location. Then go back to the Publish page and click "Republish".

If you change the application code or Dockerfile you should update VERSION in the Makefile, rebuild the docker, and upload it again with rafay-cli using the new version tag, instead of ":v2" as specified above.

You can find more detailed configuration instructions in our Quick Start guide for this and other scenarios. You'll need Rafay credentials to pull up zendesk content at this time.

Debugging Workload Issues

If the workload fails to place, try running it locally, for example (assuming you are now at v3):

docker run pingmesh:v3 -v -n 5 -d 1 https://www.google.com/

If it runs OK locally, click Debug and then "Show Container Events" to see what happened we tried to load the container. And look at the logs to see if the application encountered an issue. You can also get a shell to try out the application locally. (The shell does not work in firefox, so use chrome or safari for this feature.)

Looking at Memory Utilization

I was curious how much memory I was using in my workload, and if I had a memory leak. Debugging this in a docker is not so easy (especially a minimal one), and doing so in multiple locations is even harder. So I added a simple web server function to my application to return memory usage information using the golang runtime.MemStats feature.

Docker version v5 includes this new flag. Here's an example, using a not-so-random port, testing against google every 30 seconds:

docker run pingmesh:v5 -d 30 -s 52378 https://www.google.com/

View memory stats by pointing your browser to localhost:52378/memstats.

Viewing Workload Results

There are a couple ways to see what is happening.

First, click "Debug". You will see the stdout of the container, which looks similar to what you saw running it locally. You can save the stdout log using the download link (arrow icon).

If you configured the AWS environment you can also view it in your AWS CloudWatch instance.

  • Login to your AWS console (that corresponds to AWS credentials you entered into the Rafay console).
  • Navigate to CloudWatch Metrics, select all metrics, and watch the data roll in.

You'll note that the Rafay workload picks up a location label automatically from the environment: we put REP_LOCATION, and a few other items, into the shell environment of every container. You can see them by running a go-httpbin testapp we also provide (at the /env/ endpoint).

I shared some more information, including a couple of performance graphs in a blog post on LinkedIn.

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