MeshGlobalRateLimit Policy (beta)
This feature is released as beta and should not be deployed in a production environment.
This policy adds Global Rate Limit support for Kong Mesh.
What is global rate limiting
Rate limiting is a mechanism used to control the number of requests received by a service in a time unit. For example, you can limit your service to receive only 100 requests per second. Typical rate limit use cases include the following:
- Protecting your service from DoS (Denial of Service) attack
- Limiting your API usage
- Controlling traffic throughput
All rate limit algorithms are based on some form of request counting. In Kong Mesh, there are two rate limiting mechanisms: local and global rate limit.
Local rate limit is applied per service instance. Because of this, counters can be stored in memory and rate limit decisions can be made instantaneously. Local rate limiting should be enough in most cases (for example, DoS protection and controlling traffic throughput). You can find more information about local rate limit and how to configure it in MeshRateLimit docs.
There are some cases when local rate limit won’t solve your problems. For example, you may want to limit the number of requests that non-paying users can make to your public API. To do that, you must coordinate request counting between service instances, which the global rate limit can help you with. Global rate limit moves counters from data plane proxy to distributed cache. Because of this, you can configure longer time units (like week, month, or year) which will be immune to your service restarts.
How Global Rate limit works
Global rate limiting is a more complex than local rate limit. It needs an additional service that will manage the global counters.
Figure 1: Diagram of how the global rate limit interacts with two services (Service A and Service B), , and Redis.
Global rate limit adds two components to your Kong Mesh deployment. You need the ratelimit service that will manage your counters and highly available in-memory data store where you will store your counters. Kong Mesh uses Redis for this.
Let’s assume that we have configured rate limiting for Service B from our diagram. If any service/gateway makes requests to Service B, its data plane proxy will make a request to the ratelimit service to check if the request can be forwarded to Service B. The ratelimit service then checks if the counter for this service is below limits. If it is below limits, it updates the counter and allows the request to pass. If counters are above limits, deny response is returned.
Note: Configuring global rate limit will increase your service response times because it needs additional requests to the ratelimit service and Redis.
Ratelimit service configuration
Besides the basic service configuration that is provided on startup, the ratelimit service needs a limits configuration. Limits configuration is loaded dynamically from the control plane. Ratelimit service uses xDS protocol for this, which is the same protocol that the data plane proxy uses for communicating with the control plane. The control plane will periodically compute any new limits configuration and send it to ratelimit service.
Rate limiting algorithm
The ratelimit service uses a fixed window algorithm. It allocates a new counter for each time unit. Let’s assume that we have configured limits to 10 requests per minute. At the beginning of each minute, ratelimit service will create a new counter.
Figure 2: Diagram showing how rate limit counters are placed on timeline and how request is qualified for specific time window.
When a new request arrives, it updates the counters in the window based on the request timestamp. Be aware of the following when configuring counters:
- The counter can be depleted at the beginning of the window.
- The first counter can be depleted at the end of the window and the second can be depleted at the beginning of the window.
The first scenario can be problematic for long time units like hours and days. Because the limit is reached at the beginning of the time window, your service will not serve any requests for the rest of the time window. To solve this issue, you can split your limit from 60 per hour to one per minute.
The second scenario could result in requests burst around the window switch. In this scenario, when you configure the ratelimit to 100 requests per minute you could end up receiving 200 request in a couple of seconds.
When it comes to multizone deployment, you should deploy the ratelimit service in every zone. As for Redis, you have two options:
Figure 3: Diagram of multizone ratelimit setup with Redis per zone.
The first option is to deploy Redis in every zone. In this setup, limits will be applied per zone. Since each zone will have its own counters cache, requests will be faster, and it will be easier to distribute your system geographically.
Figure 4: Diagram of multizone ratelimit setup with global Redis.
The second option is to deploy a single Redis datastore for all your zones. In this setup, the rate limit will be truly global. When deploying a single Redis datastore, remember that if your zones are distributed geographically requests to Redis can become slower which could drastically increase response times of service you are rate limiting.
TargetRef support matrix
|TargetRef type||Top level||To||From|
To learn more about the information in this table, see the matching docs.
In the following sections, you can find examples for the
Applying configuration to the data plane proxy and the ratelimit service
After applying your policy, the control plane builds two configurations, one for the data plane proxy and one for the ratelimit service. The ratelimit service configuration
is built from you service name and
requestRate policy parameter. The rest of the policy is translated to data plane proxy configuration.
Configure a reusable ratelimit service backend
To simplify your per service configuration, you can configure the ratelimit service backend for the whole mesh.
Then you only have to configure limits for each service:
Combining MeshRateLimit with MeshGlobalRateLimit
You can combine MeshRateLimit and MeshGlobalRateLimit policies. By doing this, you can specify a local limit that is more strict than the global rate limit. When the local rate limit is reached, the data plane proxy will stop sending requests to ratelimit service.
This could lower network traffic between the data plane proxy and the ratelimit service. Also, it can protect your ratelimit service from a DDoS “attack” by your services. Moreover, this could be used to more evenly distribute traffic to the ratelimit service and mitigate the problem of depleting whole limit at the beginning of the counter window. This is described in the previous section.
External service support
To rate limit requests to External Service you must deploy ZoneEgress.
After deploying Zone Egress, you must enable mTLS in your mesh and configure zone egress routing. Here’s an example mesh configuration:
After configuring your mesh, you can create your external service:
When applying policies, external services are treated as normal mesh services, so we configure MeshGlobalRateLimit like this:
Kong Mesh is using the Envoy Rate Limit service reference implementation. You can read the source code and documentation from the Envoy Proxy GitHub repository.
On Universal, you must deploy Redis and the ratelimit service on your own. On Kubernetes, you can use Kong Mesh Helm charts to deploy ratelimit service, but you still need to deploy Redis on your own.
How to read limits configuration
When you expose debug port on the ratelimit service, you can get access to the limits configuration at the
Here is an example configuration:
default.kuma.io/service_demo-app_kuma-demo_svc_5000: unit=SECOND requests_per_unit=10, shadow_mode: false
This configuration follows this pattern:
The descriptor key will always be
kuma.io/service, and the descriptor value will be your mesh service name.
Therefore, we can deduct that this configuration will apply to
demo-app_kuma-demo_svc_5000 service in the
mesh. For the second part of the configuration, we have information about the request limit and unit to which
this limit will be applied. Shadow mode specifies if request should be limited after reaching the configured limit. If
shadow_mode is set
true, the ratelimit service will not deny requests to your service, it will only update the ratelimit service metrics.
Ratelimit service offers two mechanisms for tweaking its performance. Local cache for depleted counters and Redis query pipelining. You should refer to ratelimit service documentation for more concrete documentation and setup.
Example Ratelimit setup
- A Kubernetes cluster to run the demo on
The following example shows how to deploy and test a sample
MeshGlobalRateLimit policy on Kubernetes, using the kuma-demo application.
First, we need to deploy Redis in our Kubernetes cluster:
helm repo add bitnami https://charts.bitnami.com/bitnami helm install --create-namespace --namespace kong-mesh-system redis bitnami/redis
Redis should be now installed, and you should have secret with the Redis password. You can check if it is present:
kubectl -n kong-mesh-system get secret redis
Next, you need to create value files that will be used for control plane installation:
echo "ratelimit: enabled: true exposeDebugPort: true redis: address: redis-master port: 6379 secrets: redisAuth: Secret: redis Key: redis-password Env: REDIS_AUTH" > values.yaml
Now we can deploy our control plane:
kumactl install control-plane --values values.yaml | kubectl apply -f -
We now have our control plane with ratelimit setup, so we can install the demo app:
kumactl install demo | k apply -f -
After deploying the demo app, you can apply a sample policy:
echo "apiVersion: kuma.io/v1alpha1 kind: MeshGlobalRateLimit metadata: name: demo-rate-limit namespace: kong-mesh-system spec: targetRef: kind: MeshService name: demo-app_kuma-demo_svc_5000 from: - targetRef: kind: Mesh default: http: requestRate: num: 10 interval: 1m onRateLimit: status: 423 backend: rateLimitService: url: http://kong-mesh-ratelimit-service.kong-mesh-system:10003 timeout: 1s" | kubectl apply -f -
We are all set up. Now you can try making few requests to the external IP of your gateway and you will see an error after reaching limits. You can find the IP with command:
kubectl -n kuma-demo get service demo-app-gateway
You can configure more with this demo, such as changing limits or trying out other examples from this documentation.