Advanced Deployment Strategies

Deployment strategies provide a way for the application to evolve. Some strategies use the deployment configuration to make changes that are seen by users of all routes that resolve to the application. Other strategies, such as the ones described here, use router features to impact specific routes.

Blue-Green Deployment

Blue-green deployments involve running two versions of an application at the same time and moving traffic from the in-production version (the green version) to the newer version (the blue version). You can use a rolling strategy or switch services in a route.

Since many applications depend on persistent data, you will need to have an application that supports N-1 compatibility, which means you share data and implement live migration between your database, store, or disk by creating two copies of your data layer.

Consider the data used in testing the new version. If it is the production data, a bug in the new version can break the production version.

Using a Blue-Green Deployment

Blue-Green deployments use two deployment configurations. Both are running, and the one in production depends on the service the route specifies, with each deployment configuration exposed to a different service. You can create a new route to the new version and test it. When ready, change the service in the production route to point to the new service and the new, blue, version is live.

If necessary, you can roll back to the older, green, version by switching service back to the previous version.

Using a Route and Two Services

This example sets up two deployment configurations; one for the stable version (the green version) and the other for the newer version (the blue version).

A route points to a service, and can be changed to point to a different service at any time. As a developer, you can test the new version of your code by connecting to the new service before your production traffic is routed to it.

Routes are intended for web (HTTP and HTTPS) traffic, so this technique is best suited for web applications.

  1. Create two copies of the example application:

    $ oc new-app openshift/deployment-example:v1 --name=example-green
    $ oc new-app openshift/deployment-example:v2 --name=example-blue

    This creates two independent application components: one running the v1 image under the example-green service, and one using the v2 image under the example-blue service.

  2. Create a route that points to the old service:

    $ oc expose svc/example-green --name=bluegreen-example
  3. Browse to the application at bluegreen-example.<project>.<router_domain> to verify you see the v1 image.

    On versions of OpenShift Origin older than v1.0.3, this command generates a route at example-green.<project>.<router_domain>, not the above location.

  4. Edit the route and change the service name to example-blue:

    $ oc patch route/bluegreen-example -p '{"spec":{"to":{"name":"example-blue"}}}'
  5. To verify that the route has changed, refresh the browser until you see the v2 image.

A/B Deployment

The A/B deployment strategy lets you try a new version of the application in a limited way in the production environment. You can specify that the production version gets most of the user requests while a limited fraction of requests go to the new version. Since you control the portion of requests to each version, as testing progresses you can increase the fraction of requests to the new version and ultimately stop using the previous version. As you adjust the request load on each version, the number of pods in each service may need to be scaled as well to provide the expected performance.

In addition to upgrading software, you can use this feature to experiment with versions of the user interface. Since some users get the old version and some the new, you can evaluate the user’s reaction to the different versions to inform design decisions.

For this to be effective, both the old and new versions need to be similar enough that both can run at the same time. This is common with bug fix releases and when new features do not interfere with the old. The versions need N-1 compatibility to properly work together.

OpenShift Origin supports N-1 compatibility through the web console as well as the command line interface.

Load Balancing for A/B Testing

The user sets up a route with multiple services. Each service handles a version of the application.

Each service is assigned a weight and the portion of requests to each service is the service_weight divided by the sum_of_weights. The weight for each service is distributed to the service’s endpoints so that the sum of the endpoint weights is the service weight.

The route can have up to four services. The weight for the service can be between 0 and 256. When the weight is 0, no new requests go to the service, however existing connections remain active. When the service weight is not 0, each endpoint has a minimum weight of 1. Because of this, a service with a lot of endpoints can end up with higher weight than desired. In this case, reduce the number of pods to get the desired load balance weight. See the Alternate Backends and Weights section for more information.

The web console allows users to set the weighting and show balance between them:

Visualization of Alternate Back Ends in the Web Console

To set up the A/B environment:

  1. Create the two applications and give them different names. Each creates a deployment configuration. The applications are versions of the same program; one is usually the current production version and the other the proposed new version:

    $ oc new-app openshift/deployment-example1 --name=ab-example-a
    $ oc new-app openshift/deployment-example2 --name=ab-example-b
  2. Expose the deployment configuration to create a service:

    $ oc expose dc/ab-example-a --name=ab-example-A
    $ oc expose dc/ab-example-b --name=ab-example-B

    At this point both applications are deployed and are running and have services.

  3. Make the application available externally via a route. You can expose either service at this point, it may be convenient to expose the current production version and latter modify the route to add the new version.

    $ oc expose svc/ab-example-A

    Browse to the application at ab-example.<project>.<router_domain> to verify that you see the desired version.

  4. When you deploy the route, the router will balance the traffic according to the weights specified for the services. At this point there is a single service with default weight=1 so all requests go to it. Adding the other service as an alternateBackends and adjusting the weights will bring the A/B setup to life. This can be done by the oc set route-backends command or by editing the route.

    Changes to the route just change the portion of traffic to the various services. You may need to scale the deployment configurations to adjust the number of pods to handle the anticipated loads.

    To edit the route, run:

    $ oc edit route <route-name>
    ...
    metadata:
      name: route-alternate-service
      annotations:
        haproxy.router.openshift.io/balance: roundrobin
    spec:
      host: ab-example.my-project.my-domain
      to:
        kind: Service
        name: ab-example-A
        weight: 10
      alternateBackends:
      - kind: Service
        name: ab-example-B
        weight: 15
    ...

Managing Weights

This command manages the services and corresponding weights load balanced by the route.

  oc set route-backends ROUTENAME [--zero|--equal] [--adjust] SERVICE=WEIGHT[%] [...] [options]

For example, the following sets ab-example-A as the primary service with weight=198 and ab-example-B as the first alternate service with a weight=2:

$ oc set route-backends web ab-example-A=198 ab-example-B=2

This means 99% of traffic will be sent to service ab-example-A and 1% to service ab-example-B.

This command does not scale the deployment configurations. You may need to do that to have enough pods to handle the request load.

The command with no flags displays the current configuration.

$ oc set route-backends web
NAME                    KIND     TO           WEIGHT
routes/web              Service  ab-example-A 198 (99%)
routes/web              Service  ab-example-B 2   (1%)

The --adjust flag allows you to alter the weight of an individual service relative to itself or to the primary service. Specifying a percentage will adjust the service relative to either the primary or the first alternate (if you specify the primary). If there are other backends their weights will be kept proportional to the changed.

$ oc set route-backends web --adjust ab-example-A=200 ab-example-B=10
$ oc set route-backends web --adjust ab-example-B=5%
$ oc set route-backends web --adjust ab-example-B=+15%

The --equal flag sets the weight of all services to 100

$ oc set route-backends web --equal

The --zero flag sets the weight of all services to 0. All requests will return with a 503 error.

Not all routers may support multiple or weighted backends.

One Service, Multiple Deployment Configurations

If you have the router installed, make the application available via a route (or use the service IP directly):

$ oc expose svc/ab-example

Browse to the application at ab-example.<project>.<router_domain> to verify you see the v1 image.

  1. Create a second shard based on the same source image as the first shard but different tagged version, and set a unique value:

    $ oc new-app openshift/deployment-example:v2 --name=ab-example-b --labels=ab-example=true SUBTITLE="shard B" COLOR="red"
  2. Edit the newly created shard to set a label ab-example=true that will be common to all shards:

    $ oc edit dc/ab-example-b

    In the editor, add the line ab-example: "true" underneath spec.selector and spec.template.metadata.labels alongside the existing deploymentconfig=ab-example-b label. Save and exit the editor.

  3. Trigger a re-deployment of the second shard to pick up the new labels:

    $ oc rollout latest dc/ab-example-b
  4. At this point, both sets of pods are being served under the route. However, since both browsers (by leaving a connection open) and the router (by default, through a cookie) will attempt to preserve your connection to a back-end server, you may not see both shards being returned to you. To force your browser to one or the other shard, use the scale command:

    $ oc scale dc/ab-example-a --replicas=0

    Refreshing your browser should show v2 and shard B (in red).

    $ oc scale dc/ab-example-a --replicas=1; oc scale dc/ab-example-b --replicas=0

    Refreshing your browser should show v1 and shard A (in blue).

    If you trigger a deployment on either shard, only the pods in that shard will be affected. You can easily trigger a deployment by changing the SUBTITLE environment variable in either deployment config oc edit dc/ab-example-a or oc edit dc/ab-example-b. You can add additional shards by repeating steps 5-7.

    These steps will be simplified in future versions of OpenShift Origin.

Proxy Shard / Traffic Splitter

In production environments, you can precisely control the distribution of traffic that lands on a particular shard. When dealing with large numbers of instances, you can use the relative scale of individual shards to implement percentage based traffic. That combines well with a proxy shard, which forwards or splits the traffic it receives to a separate service or application running elsewhere.

In the simplest configuration, the proxy would forward requests unchanged. In more complex setups, you can duplicate the incoming requests and send to both a separate cluster as well as to a local instance of the application, and compare the result. Other patterns include keeping the caches of a DR installation warm, or sampling incoming traffic for analysis purposes.

While an implementation is beyond the scope of this example, any TCP (or UDP) proxy could be run under the desired shard. Use the oc scale command to alter the relative number of instances serving requests under the proxy shard. For more complex traffic management, consider customizing the OpenShift Origin router with proportional balancing capabilities.

N-1 Compatibility

Applications that have new code and old code running at the same time must be careful to ensure that data written by the new code can be read and handled (or gracefully ignored) by the old version of the code. This is sometimes called schema evolution and is a complex problem.

This can take many forms — data stored on disk, in a database, in a temporary cache, or that is part of a user’s browser session. While most web applications can support rolling deployments, it is important to test and design your application to handle it.

For some applications, the period of time that old code and new code is running side by side is short, so bugs or some failed user transactions are acceptable. For others, the failure pattern may result in the entire application becoming non-functional.

One way to validate N-1 compatibility is to use an A/B deployment. Run the old code and new code at the same time in a controlled way in a test environment, and verify that traffic that flows to the new deployment does not cause failures in the old deployment.

Graceful Termination

OpenShift Origin and Kubernetes give application instances time to shut down before removing them from load balancing rotations. However, applications must ensure they cleanly terminate user connections as well before they exit.

On shutdown, OpenShift Origin will send a TERM signal to the processes in the container. Application code, on receiving SIGTERM, should stop accepting new connections. This will ensure that load balancers route traffic to other active instances. The application code should then wait until all open connections are closed (or gracefully terminate individual connections at the next opportunity) before exiting.

After the graceful termination period expires, a process that has not exited will be sent the KILL signal, which immediately ends the process. The terminationGracePeriodSeconds attribute of a pod or pod template controls the graceful termination period (default 30 seconds) and may be customized per application as necessary.