Rate limiting

Why Rate Limit in API Gateway Environments

API Gateways act as a control point for the outside world to access the various application services (monoliths, microservices, serverless functions) running in your environment. In microservices or hybrid application architecture, any number of these workloads will need to accept incoming requests from external end users (clients). Incoming requests can be numerous and varied – protecting backend services and globally enforcing business limits can become incredibly complex being handled at the application level. Using an API gateway we can define client request limits to these varied services in one place.


First, we need to install Gloo Mesh Enterprise (minimum version 1.1) with Ratelimit enabled. Please refer to the corresponding installation guide for details.

This guide makes use of the Bookinfo sample application. You can install the application by following the steps in the Bookinfo deployment section.

Rate Limiting in Gloo Mesh

Gloo Mesh exposes Envoy's rate-limit API, which allows users to provide their own implementation of an Envoy gRPC rate-limit service. Lyft provides an example implementation of this gRPC rate-limit service here. To configure Gloo Mesh to use your rate-limit server implementation, install Gloo Mesh Gateway and then modify the VirtualGateway to use your rate limit server destination:

First create the patch:

cat > patch-file.yaml << EOF
  - http:
      - virtualHost:
            requestTimeout: 120ms      # optional, default 100ms
            denyOnFail: true           # optional, default false
          name: rate-limiter # rate-limit server destination name
          namespace: gloo-mesh-addons  # rate-limit server upstream namespace

Then apply the patch file with:

kubectl patch vg my-virtual-gateway --namespace gloo-mesh --type merge --patch "$(cat patch-file.yaml)"

Gloo Mesh Enterprise provides an enhanced version of Lyft's rate limit service that supports the full Envoy rate limit server API (with some additional enhancements, e.g. rule priority), as well as a simplified API built on top of this service. Gloo Mesh uses this rate-limit service to enforce rate-limits.


If Gloo Mesh is running on kubernetes, the rate limiting logs can be viewed with:

kubectl logs -n gloo-mesh deploy/rate-limiter -f

Note that these logs will only be in agent clusters.

When it starts up correctly, you should see a log line similar to:

"caller":"server/server_impl.go:48","msg":"Listening for HTTP on ':18080'"

Rate Limit Configuration

Check out the guides for each of the Gloo Mesh rate-limit APIs and configuration options for Gloo Mesh Enterprise's rate-limit service: