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Hackernoon logoHTTP Throttling via Lyft Global Rate Limiting by@sudip-sengupta

HTTP Throttling via Lyft Global Rate Limiting

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@sudip-senguptaSudip Sengupta

Solution Architect | Technical Content Writer

Sometime ago for a project, I was looking for a good rate-limiting service. For the scope of that project, the service would run along a front proxy and would rate-limit requests to third party applications.

Nginx Plus and Kong certainly have rate-limiting features but are not OSS; while I am a bigger fan of OSS. Using Istio service mesh would have been a overkill. Therefore I decided to use Envoy Proxy + Lyft Ratelimiting.

The aim for this blog is help you get started with the rate-limiting service and configure various combinations of rate-limiting scenarios.

Let’s dive in…

Understanding Lyft Ratelimiter

Ratelimit configuration consists of

  1. Domain: A domain is a container for a set of rate limits. All domains known to the Ratelimit service must be globally unique. They serve as a way for different teams/projects to have rate limit configurations that don’t conflict.
  2. Descriptor: A descriptor is a list of key/value pairs owned by a domain that the Ratelimit service uses to select the correct rate limit. Descriptors are case-sensitive. Examples of descriptors are:
  • (“database”, “users”)
  • (“message_type”, “marketing”),(“to_number”,”2061234567")
  • (“to_cluster”, “service_a”)
  • (“to_cluster”, “service_a”),(“from_cluster”, “service_b”)

Descriptors can also be nested to achieve more complex rate-limiting scenarios.

We will be performing rate limiting based on various HTTP headers. Let’s have a look at the configuration file.

domain: apis
descriptors:
  - key: generic_key
    value: global
    rate_limit:
      unit: second
      requests_per_unit: 60
  - key: generic_key
    value: local
    rate_limit:
      unit: second
      requests_per_unit: 50
  - key: header_match
    value: "123"
    rate_limit:
      unit: second
      requests_per_unit: 40
  - key: header_match
    value: "456"
    rate_limit:
      unit: second
      requests_per_unit: 30
  - key: header_match
    value: post
    rate_limit:
      unit: second 
      requests_per_unit: 20
  - key: header_match
    value: get
    rate_limit:
      unit: second 
      requests_per_unit: 10
  - key: header_match
    value: path
    rate_limit:
      unit: second 
      requests_per_unit: 5
#Using nested descriptors
  - key: custom_header
    descriptors:
    - key: plan
      value: BASIC
      rate_limit:
        requests_per_unit: 2
        unit: second
    - key: plan
      value: PLUS
      rate_limit:
        requests_per_unit: 3
        unit: second

In the configuration above it can be clearly seen

  1. There are various different keys with different ratelimit values.
  2. We can use them globally for the entire vhost in envoy or even locally for a particular path.
  3. We can also have nested values of descriptors.

  4. Envoy Front proxy


Let’s see how we can use them in the envoy config now. Have a look at the configuration below:

static_resources:
  listeners:
  - name: listener_0
    address:
      socket_address:        
        address: 0.0.0.0
        port_value: 10000
    filter_chains:
    - filters:
      - name: envoy.http_connection_manager
        config:
          stat_prefix: ingress_http
          codec_type: AUTO
          route_config:
            name: local_route
            virtual_hosts:
            - name: nginx
              domains:
              - "*"
              rate_limits:
                - stage: 0
                  actions:
                    - generic_key: 
                        descriptor_value: "global"
              routes:
              - match:
                  prefix: "/nginx_1"
                route:
                  cluster: nginx_1
                  include_vh_rate_limits: true
                  rate_limits:
                    - actions:
                        - generic_key:
                            descriptor_value: "local"
                    - actions:
                        - header_value_match:
                            descriptor_value: "get"
                            headers: 
                              - name: ":method"
                                prefix_match: "GET" 
                    - actions:  #This will be triggered if `X-CustomHeader` is present AND the X-CustomPlan header has a value of either BASIC or PLUS
                      - requestHeaders:
                          descriptor_key: "custom_header"
                          header_name: "X-CustomHeader"
                      - requestHeaders:
                          descriptor_key: "plan"
                          header_name: "X-CustomPlan"                                                                                    
              - match:
                  prefix: "/nginx_2"
                route:
                  cluster: nginx_2
                  include_vh_rate_limits: true
                  rate_limits:  
                    - actions:
                        - generic_key:
                            descriptor_value: "local"
                    - actions:
                        - header_value_match:
                            descriptor_value: "123"
                            headers: 
                              - name: "X-MyHeader"
                                prefix_match: "123"
                    - actions:
                        - header_value_match:
                            descriptor_value: "456"
                            headers: 
                              - name: "X-MyHeader"
                                prefix_match: "456"
                    - actions:
                        - header_value_match:
                            descriptor_value: "post"
                            headers: 
                              - name: ":method"
                                prefix_match: "POST"
                    - actions:
                        - header_value_match:
                            descriptor_value: "path"
                            headers: 
                              - name: ":path"
                                prefix_match: "/nginx"
          http_filters:
          - name: envoy.rate_limit
            config:
              domain: apis
              failure_mode_deny: false
              rate_limit_service:
                grpc_service:
                  envoy_grpc:
                    cluster_name: rate_limit_cluster
                  timeout: 0.25s

          - name: envoy.router

  clusters:
  - name: nginx_1
    connect_timeout: 1s
    type: strict_dns
    lb_policy: round_robin
    hosts:
    - socket_address:
        address: nginx1
        port_value: 80

  - name: nginx_2
    connect_timeout: 1s
    type: strict_dns
    lb_policy: round_robin
    hosts:
    - socket_address:
        address: nginx2
        port_value: 80

  - name: rate_limit_cluster
    type: strict_dns
    connect_timeout: 0.25s
    lb_policy: round_robin
    http2_protocol_options: {}
    hosts:
    - socket_address:
        address: ratelimit
        port_value: 8081

admin:
  access_log_path: "/dev/null"
  address:
    socket_address:
      address: 0.0.0.0
      port_value: 9901

Here is how it works:

  1. We have defined a single vhost named nginx which matches all domains.
  2. There is global rate-limit defined for this vhost. The descriptor value is global.
  3. Next, we have 2 clusters under this vhost. Namely, nginx1 and nginx2. Routes for path /nginx1 are routed to nginx1 cluster and similarly for nginx2.
  4. For nginx1, there is generic rate limit defined by descriptor value local and then we have rate-limits for different values of standard HTTP headers such as method, path etc., and some custom HTTP headers such as X-CustomHeader.
  5. We have similar rate-limiting set for nginx2 cluster.
  6. These 2 nginx clusters defined here actually refer to 2 different nginx containers running as part of docker-compose stack.

The overall architecture can be visualized as

Simulation Architecture

All configuration files for this set-up can be found here. Since they are running on the same network as the ratelimiter and envoy proxy, they can be accessed easily using the container name.

In order to run the set-up just clone the repo and do

docker-compose up 

Once the stack is up, you will have

  1. 2 nginx containers running on port 9090 and 9091 of localhost.Envoy proxy to intercept and relay requests to nginx servers.
  2. Envoy admin console can be reached at localhost:9901.
  3. Envoy will be listening as localhost:10000.
  4. Ratelimiting service container with configured rate limits which will be used to envoy.
  5. Redis container which is used by the Ratelimiting service.

It is important to understand that all the applicable actions for a particular path in a cluster are aggregated by the ratelimiter for the result i.e.,

Logical OR of all the applicable limits

Let’s Test our Setup

Firstly we need to install Vegeta, a load testing framework. It can be done by

brew update && brew install vegeta

Test Scenario 1:

Case

GET
 request on 
/nginx_1/
 at 100 requests per second
Expected Result: 10% requests successful. (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
 , 
"descriptor_value": "local"
 and 
"descriptor_value": "get"
 )
Command
echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 | vegeta report

Actual Result

$ echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 | vegeta report
          Requests      [total, rate, throughput]  1008, 100.12, 10.92
          Duration      [total, attack, wait]      10.071526192s, 10.06832056s, 3.205632ms
          Latencies     [mean, 50, 95, 99, max]    4.718253ms, 4.514212ms, 7.426103ms, 9.089064ms, 17.916071ms
          Bytes In      [total, mean]              68640, 68.10
          Bytes Out     [total, mean]              0, 0.00
          Success       [ratio]                    10.91%
          Status Codes  [code:count]               200:110  429:898  
          Error Set:                               429 Too Many Requests

— — —

Test Scenario 2:

Case:

POST
 request on 
/nginx_1/
 at 100 requests per second.
ExpectedResult: 50% requests successful. (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
 and 
"descriptor_value": "local"
 )
Command
echo "POST http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 | vegeta report

ActualResult:

$ echo “POST http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 | vegeta report
 Requests [total, rate, throughput] 4344, 100.02, 50.56
 Duration [total, attack, wait] 43.434227783s, 43.429286664s, 4.941119ms
 Latencies [mean, 50, 95, 99, max] 5.190485ms, 5.224978ms, 7.862512ms, 10.340628ms, 20.573212ms
 Bytes In [total, mean] 1370304, 315.45
 Bytes Out [total, mean] 0, 0.00
 Success [ratio]  50.55%
 Status Codes [code:count] 200:2196 429:2148 
 Error Set:                429 Too Many Requests

— — —

Test Scenario 3:

Case: 

GET
 request on 
/nginx_2/
 at 100 requests per second with 
X-MyHeader: 123

Expected Result: 5% requests successful (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
"descriptor_value": "local"
"descriptor_value": "123"
, and 
"descriptor_value": "path"
)
Command
echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_2/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header "X-MyHeader: 123" | vegeta report

Actual Result:

$ echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_2/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header "X-MyHeader: 123" | vegeta report
          Requests      [total, rate, throughput]  3861, 100.03, 5.18
          Duration      [total, attack, wait]      38.604406747s, 38.597776398s, 6.630349ms
          Latencies     [mean, 50, 95, 99, max]    4.96685ms, 4.673049ms, 7.683458ms, 9.713522ms, 16.875025ms
          Bytes In      [total, mean]              124800, 32.32
          Bytes Out     [total, mean]              0, 0.00
          Success       [ratio]                    5.18%
          Status Codes  [code:count]               200:200  429:3661  
          Error Set:                               429 Too Many Requests

— — —

Test Scenario 4:

Case

POST
 request on 
/nginx_2/
 at 100 requests per second with 
X-MyHeader: 456

Expected Result: 5% requests successful (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
"descriptor_value": "local"
"descriptor_value": "post"
"descriptor_value": "456"
, and 
"descriptor_value": "path"
)
Command
echo "POST http://localhost:10000/nginx_2/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header "X-MyHeader: 456" | vegeta report

Actual Result:

$ echo “POST http://localhost:10000/nginx_2/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header “X-MyHeader: 456” | vegeta report
 Requests [total, rate, throughput] 2435, 100.04, 5.13
 Duration [total, attack, wait] 24.346703709s, 24.339554311s, 7.149398ms
 Latencies [mean, 50, 95, 99, max] 5.513994ms, 5.255698ms, 8.239173ms, 10.390515ms, 20.287931ms
 Bytes In [total, mean] 78000, 32.03
 Bytes Out [total, mean] 0, 0.00
 Success [ratio] 5.13%
 Status Codes [code:count] 200:125 429:2310 
 Error Set: 429 Too Many Requests

— — —

Test Scenario 5:

Case

GET
 request on 
/nginx_1/
 at 100 requests per second with 
X-CustomHeader: XYZ
 and 
X-CustomPlan: PLUS

Expected Result: 3% requests successful (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
"descriptor_value": "local"
"descriptor_value": "get"
"descriptor_key": "custom_header"
, and 
"descriptor_key": "plan"
)
Command
echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header "X-CustomHeader: XYZ" -header "X-CustomPlan: PLUS" | vegeta report

Actual Result:

$ echo “GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header “X-CustomHeader: XYZ” -header “X-CustomPlan: PLUS” | vegeta report 
 Requests [total, rate, throughput] 2372, 100.05, 3.16
 Duration [total, attack, wait] 23.71156424s, 23.707710415s, 3.853825ms
 Latencies [mean, 50, 95, 99, max] 5.396743ms, 5.179951ms, 7.981171ms, 10.084753ms, 15.086778ms
 Bytes In [total, mean] 46800, 19.73
 Bytes Out [total, mean] 0, 0.00
 Success [ratio] 3.16%
 Status Codes [code:count] 200:75 429:2297 
 Error Set: 429 Too Many Requests

— — —

Test Scenario 6:

Case

GET
 request on 
/nginx_1/
 at 100 requests per second with 
X-Header: XYZ
 and 
X-CustomPlan: PLUS

Expected Result: 10% requests successful (Logical 
OR
 of 
"descriptor_value": "global"
"descriptor_value": "local"
"descriptor_value": "get"
)
Command
echo "GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header "X-Header: XYZ" -header "X-CustomPlan: PLUS" | vegeta report

Actual Result:

$ echo “GET http://localhost:10000/nginx_1/" | vegeta attack -rate=100 -duration=0 -header “X-Header: XYZ” -header “X-CustomPlan: PLUS” | vegeta report
 Requests [total, rate, throughput] 1578, 100.07, 10.78
 Duration [total, attack, wait] 15.773500478s, 15.769158977s, 4.341501ms
 Latencies [mean, 50, 95, 99, max] 4.748516ms, 4.514902ms, 7.076671ms, 8.518779ms, 16.077828ms
 Bytes In [total, mean] 106080, 67.22
 Bytes Out [total, mean] 0, 0.00
 Success [ratio] 10.77%
 Status Codes [code:count] 200:170 429:1408 
 Error Set: 429 Too Many Requests

Scalability

In a production scenario, you might want to run multiple instances of your proxy which can refer to the same ratelimit cluster. The front proxy is basically stateless.

As far as the ratelimiting service is concerned, I would recommend scaling it horizontally and moving out Redis Cache to a cloud-based service like RedisLabs or AWS Elastic-cache.

Also, using separate Redis for Per Second Limits is highly recommended. All you need to do is:

  1. Set the env var, 
    REDIS_PERSECOND
    "true"
  2. Set Redis endpoint, 
    REDIS_PERSECOND_URL

Conclusion

We can clearly see that the actual results are pretty close to expected results. We can accomplish all kinds of complex rate limiting scenarios using this and perform request throttling. Feel free to reach out should you have any questions around this.

This article was also published on https://appfleet.com/blog/http-throttling-using-lyft-global-ratelimiting/.





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