Core Concepts

There are several core concepts that serve as the bedrock on which Gloo Edge is built. This document will provide an explanation of the various concepts, how they are implemented in Gloo Edge, and links to the API documentation to learn more. Before you review this document, it may be useful to first read our Introduction page to get a sense of the purpose behind Gloo Edge and the problems it seeks to solve.

In this document we will start with a general overview and then expand on specific topics. Links are included in the list below if you wish to jump to a specific topic.


Overview

The two top-level concepts in Gloo Edge are Virtual Services and Upstreams.


Gateways

Gateway definitions set up the protocols and ports on which Gloo Edge listens for traffic. For example, by default, Gloo Edge has a gateway configured for HTTP and HTTPS traffic:

kubectl --namespace=gloo-system get gateway
NAME                AGE
gateway-proxy       61s
gateway-proxy-ssl   61s

A single gateway definition looks like the following:

apiVersion: gateway.solo.io/v1
kind: Gateway
metadata:
  labels:
    app: gloo
  name: gateway-proxy-ssl
  namespace: gloo-system
spec:
  bindAddress: '::'
  bindPort: 8443
  httpGateway: {}
  proxyNames:
  - gateway-proxy
  ssl: true
  useProxyProto: false

In this case, we are setting up an HTTP listener on port 8443. When VirtualServices define a TLS context, they’ll automatically bind to this Gateway. You can explicitly configure the Gateway to which a VirtualService binds. In addition, you can also create TCP gateways that allow for binary traffic.


Virtual Services

Virtual Services define a set of route rules, security configuration (including TLS, mTLS, SNI, WAF, OAuth, Data Loss Prevention, and others), rate limiting, transformations, and other core routing capabilities supported by Gloo Edge.

Gloo Edge selects the appropriate Virtual Service (set of routes) based on the domain specified in a request’s Host header (in HTTP 1.1) or :authority header (HTTP 2.0).

Virtual Services also support wildcard domains (starting with *).

Gloo Edge creates a default Virtual Service for the user if the user does not provide one. The default Virtual Service matches the * domain, which serves routes for any request that does not include a Host/:authority header, or a request that requests a domain that does not match another Virtual Service. You’ll note in the Hello World tutorial we create a virtualservice named default.

Each domain specified for a Virtual Service must be unique across the set of all Virtual Services provided to Gloo Edge. In previous versions, we supported Virtual Service merging, which means you could have multiple Virtual Services with the same domain, and we would just merge the routes. The preferred way to segment out routes and have multiple owners of the Virtual Service is to use delegation. Please see the introduction to the decentralized Gloo Edge API and delegation for more.

For some use cases, it may be sufficient to let all routes live on a single Virtual Service. In this scenario, Gloo Edge uses the same set of route rules for requests, regardless of their Host or :authority header.

Route rules consist of matchers, which specify the kind of function calls to match (requests and events, are currently supported), and the name of the destination (or destinations, for load balancing) where to route them.

A simple Virtual Service with a single route might look like this:

apiVersion: gateway.solo.io/v1
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
  name: default
  namespace: gloo-system
spec:
  virtualHost:
    domains:
    - '*'
    routes:
    - matchers:
      - prefix: /
      routeAction:
        single:
          upstream:
            name: my-upstream
            namespace: gloo-system

Note that we could have omitted domains, which would default to ‘*'. This Virtual Service acts as the default Virtual Service, matching all domains. We could have also omitted matchers here, which would default to the / prefix matcher, which matches all requests.

Routes

Routes are the primary building block of the Virtual Service. A route contains a list of matchers and one of:

In short, a route is essentially a rule which tells Gloo Edge: if the request matches a matcher on the route, then route it to this destination.

Because multiple matchers can match a single request, the order of routes in the Virtual Service matters. Gloo Edge selects the first route that matches the request when making routing decisions. It is therefore essential to place fallback routes (e.g., matching any request for path / with a custom 404 page) towards the bottom of the route list.

Matchers

Matchers currently support two types of requests:

Destinations

Destinations specify where to route a request once a matching route is selected. A route can point to a single destination or it can split traffic for that route among a series of weighted destinations.

A destination can be either an upstream destination or a function destination.

Upstream Destinations are analogous to Envoy clusters. Requests routed to upstream destinations are routed to a server which handles the request once it has been admitted (and possibly transformed) by Gloo Edge.

Function Destinations allow requests to be routed directly to functions that live on various Upstreams. A function can be a serverless function call (e.g., Lambda, Google Cloud Function, and OpenFaaS function), an API call on a service (e.g., a REST API call, OpenAPI operation, and XML/SOAP request), or publishing to a message queue (e.g., NATS and AMQP). Function-level routing is enabled in Envoy by Gloo Edge’s function-level filters. Gloo Edge supports the addition of new Upstream types and new function types through our plugin interface.


Upstreams

Upstreams define destinations for routes. Upstreams tell Gloo Edge what to route to and how to route to them. Gloo Edge determines how to handle routing for the Upstream based on its spec field. Upstreams have a type-specific spec field that provides routing information to Gloo Edge.

The most basic Upstream type is the static upstream type , which tells Gloo Edge a list of static hosts or DNS names logically grouped for an Upstream. More sophisticated Upstream types include the Kubernetes Upstream and the AWS Lambda Upstream .

Let’s walk through an example of a Kubernetes Upstream to understand how this works.

Gloo Edge reads in a configuration that looks like the following:

apiVersion: gloo.solo.io/v1
kind: Upstream
metadata:
  labels:
    discovered_by: kubernetesplugin
  name: default-redis-6379
  namespace: gloo-system
spec:
  discoveryMetadata: {}
  kube:
    selector:
      gloo: redis
    serviceName: redis
    serviceNamespace: gloo-system
    servicePort: 6379
status:
  reported_by: gloo
  state: 1 # Accepted

Functions

Some Upstream types support functions. For example, we can add some HTTP functions to this Upstream, and Gloo Edge routes to those functions, providing request transformation to format incoming requests to the parameters expected by the Upstream service.

We can now route to the function in our Virtual Service. An example of a Virtual Service with a route to this Upstream:

apiVersion: gateway.solo.io/v1
kind: VirtualService
metadata:
  name: default
  namespace: default
spec:
  virtualHost:
    domains:
    - '*'
    routes:
    - matchers:
       - prefix: /petstore/findWithId
      routeAction:
        single:
          destinationSpec:
            rest:
              functionName: findPetById
              parameters:
                headers:
                  :path: /petstore/findWithId/{id}
          upstream:
            name: petstore
            namespace: gloo-system
      options:
        prefixRewrite: /api/pets

Note that it is necessary to specify parameters for this function invocation. Some function destinations require extensions specified on the route for which they belong. Documentation for each plugin is in the Plugins section.


Secrets

Certain plugins such as the AWS Lambda Plugin require the use of secrets for authentication, the configuration of SSL Certificates, and other data that should not be stored in plaintext configuration.

Gloo Edge runs an independent (goroutine) controller to monitor secrets. Secrets are stored in the secret storage layer. Gloo Edge can monitor secrets stored in the following secret storage services:

Secrets must adhere to a structure specified by the plugin that requires them.