Architecture

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    This page describes the core Service Broker architecture.

    The Service Broker implements the Open Service Broker API. In summary, the Open Service Broker API specification defines two key resource types; service instances and service bindings. Like the specification itself, the Service Broker also takes to heart the concept that a service is an abstract thing; a service represents any API driven application that can be consumed by a client. Let’s first begin by understanding the key terminology.

    Open Service Broker API Concepts

    Service Instances

    A service instance is a single, unique, instance of some service. This service could be anything; a database, a VOIP server, a web application. The key point here is that end users see a service instance, they do not see nor care about the underlying implementation—​it is abstracted away. Thus a complex application that consists of a collection of inter-connected micro-services and databases, can just be considered as an application by the end user.

    The API for a service instance is, however, somewhat limited. Upon successful creation of a service instance, the API only defines a dashboard URL. If all that is required to consume a service is a URL, then a service instance is all you need. If however your clients need more—​such as credentials or non-standard connection strings—​then you need service bindings.

    It may be the case that service instances are provisioned with pre-shared credentials, or they use a centralized authentication mechanism in which case service bindings are not necessary.

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    Figure 1. Service Instance Backed by Directory Service for Authentication

    Service Bindings

    Service bindings are best thought of as resources and credentials for a shared service instance. Take for example a secure web service, a service instance can tell you where to connect to, however you need a service binding to communicate the username, password and TLS configuration to a client.

    A service binding may also represent a partitioning of the service instance. In a multi-tenancy system you may wish to have each service binding refer to a unique namespace so that other users sharing the instance cannot interfere with one another.

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    Figure 2. Service Instance with Binding per User

    A service binding may also return the same credentials no matter how many are created. This facilitates sharing of the underlying service instance.

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    Figure 3. Service Instance with Binding Shared by Multiple Users

    Service Catalog

    Users of an Open Service Broker compliant API can create and delete service instances and bindings as they desire. The service catalog is responsible for providing a service offering discovery mechanism.

    Users of an Open Service Broker can poll it an request a catalog of supported services. These are organized, first as a collection of service offerings, then within each service offering a collection of plans.

    One way to help visualize this is to think in terms of virtual machine (VM) types offered by a cloud provider. VMs are typically first defined in terms of what characteristics they have (e.g. high CPU, high memory, high I/O), and then by sizes (e.g. 2 CPUs, 4 CPUs, 8 CPUs). The characteristics are defined by the service offering, the sizes by the plan.

    The service catalog further reinforces the concept of service abstraction. I, as an end user, no longer care about how things are configured or how big they are in terms of instances. What matters to me is my service is production grade and handles my workload.

    API Concepts Summary

    The beauty of service instances and bindings is that they are flexible. There is no rigid definition of what physical things a service instance or binding maps to. In the next section we will see how the Service Broker performs these mappings.

    Service Broker Concepts

    When a service instance or binding is created by the Service Broker, all it is doing is creating a set of pre-defined Kubernetes resources.

    Dynamic Kubernetes Resource Provisioning

    Take for instance the creation of a web application. It may need Kubernetes ServiceAccount, Role, RoleBinding, Deployment and Service resources in order to create a consumable service. Each of these resources is represented in the Service Broker configuration as a resource template. Templates are bound to a service offering and plan in the catalog. Thus when you create a service instance of the web application, all the broker does is lookup the set of templates associated with the service offering and plan then dynamically create then in Kubernetes.

    The Service Broker contains no knowledge of any Kubernetes types. By treating every resource template as generic and untyped it will work with any Kubernetes resource type, both core types and custom.

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    Figure 4. Service Instance Creation Bound to Resource Templates

    Templated Resources

    If the Service Broker only created static resources, then it would be impossible to create multiple service instances in the same namespace—​they would create the same resources, with the same name, and conflict. This is why the Service Broker uses templates and not resources.

    Templates are modeled on JSON objects—​all Kubernetes resources are JSON objects—​as this allows the structure to be validated before being accepted. Individual resource templates may be customized before creation with dynamic attributes. For example, resource names can be dynamically modified to be based on the unique service instance ID, and therefore be guaranteed not to conflict with one another.

    Dynamic attributes are based on the Go language template specification. This will be familiar to users of Helm, however, the key difference is that the Service Broker applies structured JSON data to a structured JSON template. Helm operates on YAML text files, where white space is a concern.

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    Figure 5. JSON Template Parameterized with Dynamic Attributes

    Dynamic Attributes

    Template customization is provided by a number of different data sources.

    The registry is a key/value database that is pre-populated with metadata associated with the service instance or binding (e.g. unique ID, namespace). Registry values can also be user defined for later retrieval by processing a Go language template.

    Customization values can also be generated by generic functions. These allow simple operations such as string formatting or password generation. They also allow more complex functionality such as generating cryptographic keys and certificates.

    The Open Service Broker API also allows parameters to be specified when a service instance or binding is created. Customizations can also refer to these parameters explicitly passed by the user.

    Next Steps

    The first Service Broker API the end user will interact with will be the service catalog. The next page will outline what the service catalog provides and how it can be configured to suit your needs.