Red Hat Developer Sandbox for OpenShift ("Sandbox") is a great platform for learning and experimenting with Red Hat OpenShift. Because OpenShift is built on Kubernetes, the Sandbox is also a great platform for learning and experimenting with Kubernetes. This article takes you through the creation of an application using plain Kubernetes instead of OpenShift.

Prerequisites:

  1. Sandbox account
  2. The Kubernetes command line interface (CLI), kubectl, installed on your local PC
  3. git installed on your local PC
  4. An image registry that you can use — quay.io is a good option.
  5. The ability to build an image on your local PC using either podman or docker

Here's what we'll be doing:

  • Logging into the sandbox
  • Creating a backend program called "quotes", including setting environment variables to be used by the code.
  • Creating a React.js frontend program called "quotesweb"
  • Viewing quotesweb in our browswer
  • Scaling backend to two pods and observing the result in quotesweb
  • Creating a Persistent Volume Claim to support MariaDB running in Kubernetes
  • Creating a Secret to be use with the database
  • Creating a MariaDB database, "quotesdb", running in Kubernetes
  • Creating and populating the table "quotes" in the "quotesdb" database.
  • Destroying the MariaDB pod to observe Kubernetes' "Self Healing"
  • Updating the backend program "quotes" to Version 2 and observing the results in "quotesweb".

The Kubernetes features used, as described at the Kubernetes by Example web site, will be:

  • pods
  • labels
  • deployments
  • services
  • service discovery
  • environment variables
  • namespaces
  • volumes
  • persistent volumes
  • secrets
  • logging

Personal note from the author

Sit down, relax, and be prepared to spend some quality time with this tutorial. We cover a lot of ground, and I've attempted to mimic a real-life situation in order to bring the most value to your time spent. If you're new to Kubernetes, you'll go from zero to deploying applications in this guide. You'll be rolling out a backend application, a database, and a frontend application. You'll also be scaling an application and updating another application. This is hands-on with skills that are 100 percent applicable to a production environment. Thanks for taking to time to trust me with your learning. Enjoy.

Also, when commands are referenced inline, they are shown in a different typeface, e.g. kubectl config view.

Preparation

You will need to download or clone the following three repositories (repos) from Github.com using the following commands:

git clone https://github.com/donschenck/quotesweb
git clone https://github.com/donschenck/quotemysql
git clone https://github.com/donschenck/qotd-python

For the purposes of this tutorial, the three directories you created will be referenced by their repo name. Where you put them on your local machine is up to you.

Logging into the Sandbox

You don't actually "log into" a Kubernetes cluster. Instead, you set your local environment to connect to your cluster when issuing kubectl commands. This part is a bit cumbersome, but it's necessary. You can, of course, automate it. You can also use tools to help you moving forward. Finally, if you have the OpenShift CLI (oc) installed (not necessary for this tutorial), you can cheat and use the oc login command. If you can install the oc CLI, it makes life a lot easier.

There are three parts in play here:

  1. Your credentials
  2. A kubernetes (or OpenShift) cluster
  3. A context, i.e. namespace within the cluster

After establishing those three parts, you use the context you desire.

The following commands will take care of this, but first we need to extract some pieces of information from our Sandbox. We'll need to get the following items:

  1. Username, which is represented by {username} in the following commands
  2. Authorization token {token}
  3. Name of the cluster {cluster_name}
  4. Context assigned to us {context}
  5. URL of the cluster API server {api_server_url}

You'll need to log into your Sandbox dashboard to get this information.

Username

Our value for {username}.

This is displayed in the upper right corner of the dashboard. For example:

username in sandbox dashboard

Given this example, the username would be rhn-engineering-dschenck.

Of note: The namespace we'll be using is simply your username with "-dev" appended to it, e.g. rhn-engineering-dschenck-dev.

Authorization token

Our value for {token}.

If you click on the username and select "Copy login command" and log in as DevSandbox, you can see your token. If this is confusing, there is an article that will help.

Name of the cluster

Our value for {cluster_name}.

The cluster name is a modification of the host URL with all periods converted to dashes. Also, the "console-openshift-console-apps" portion of the host URL is swapped out for the API server. For example, if you navigate to the Topology page of your dashboard, your URL looks something such as this:

topology url

Given this, the cluster name will be api-sandbox-x8i5-p1-openshiftapps-com:6443.

Context assigned to us

Our value for {context}.

The context is constructed by combining your username with the name of the cluster in the following format: {username}-dev/{cluster_name}/{username}.

For example, using what we have up to this point, the value for {context} would be:

rhn-engineering-dschenck-dev/api-sandbox-x8i5-p1-openshiftapps-com:6443/rhn-engineering-dschenck

URL of the cluster API server

Our value for {api_server_url}.

This is almost the same as the cluster name, but it keeps the periods. For example, given what we have above, the URL would be :

https://api.sandbox.x8i5.p1.openshiftapps.com:6443

Viewing and deleting your local PC Kubernetes configuration

The command kubectl config view will show you your configuration. If you wish, you can remove all of your Kubernetes local configuration information by deleting the file "~/.kube/config", e.g. rm ~/.kube/config.

Connecting to our Kubernetes cluster

Using the information we have, use the following commands — of course, substituting your own values where noted.

kubectl config set-credentials {username}/{cluster_name} --token={token}
kubectl config set-cluster {cluster_name} --server={api_server_url}
kubectl config set-context {context} --user={username}/{cluster_name} /
  --namespace={username}-dev --cluster={cluster_name}
kubectl config use-context {context}

What we're creating in this tutorial

This tutorial will guide you through using Kubernetes to create three components:

  • Backend RESTful service
  • Frontend ReactJS web page
  • MariaDB database

animated gif of application

About the backend RESTful service

A backend application, "quotes", written in Python 3.8, supplies "Quote Of The Day"-type data via a RESTful API. The endpoints are as follows:

URL: /

METHOD: GET  

Returns the string "qotd" to simply identify the service.

URL: /version

METHOD: GET 

Returns a string denoting the version id of the service, e.g. "2.0.0".

URL: /writtenin

METHOD: GET

Returns the programming language in which the service is written. In this case, it is "Python", but this same service is available in several different programming languages.

URL: /quotes

METHOD: GET

Returns a JSON array of all of the quotes.  

URL: /quotes/random

METHOD: GET

Returns a JSON object of one random quote from among the set of available quotes.  

URL: /quotes/{id}

METHOD: GET

Returns a JSON object of one specific quote within the set of available quotes.  

Creating the backend app (quotes)

In this step, we will create Kubernetes objects associated with the "quotes" application: a Deployment, a Service, and a Route (which is similar to the Ingress and Ingress Controller objects). We will also set an Environment Variable that will allow us to change the name of the database service if we want to.


About Route, Ingress, and Ingress Controller  

Because Red Hat Developer Sandbox for OpenShift is administered by Red Hat, you do not have administrator access to the Kubernetes cluster. One of the limitations of this is that you are not granted rights to create Ingress and Ingress Controller objects.

OpenShift has its own built-in Ingress-like object, the Route. For this tutorial, we're going to "cheat" and use the Route object. Be aware that we are using this workaround; in your own Kubernetes cluster you'll want to create the Ingress and Ingress Controller objects.


In the directory where you cloned the qotd-python repo, move into the "k8s" sub-directory and run the following three commands:

kubectl apply -f quotes-deployment.yaml
kubectl apply -f service.yaml
kubectl apply -f route.yaml

For example:

kubectl apply quotes deployment command

kubectl apply service

kubectl apply route

At this point we have the backend "quotes" application running in a pod. It's exposed within Kubernetes as a Service, and the Route allows anyone to access it over the internet.

If you want, you can run the command kubectl get routes and then use the curl command with the route URL to see the service serving up data. Here's an example:

results of command line commands kubectl get routes and curl

pods and labels

When you create the deployment, Kubernetes will pull the image from the image registry named in the YAML file and will create a pod. It will also assign the labels which you specified in the deployment.

The pod name is automatically generated from the deployment name, with random characters appended to it.

Viewing the contents of the file quotes-deployment.yaml, we can see that the pods will be named "quotesweb" (plus the random characters, e.g. "quotesweb-5468c95fc6-5sp9j"), while the label will be "app=quotesweb".

kind: Deployment
apiVersion: apps/v1
metadata:
  name: quotesweb
  labels:
    app: quotesweb
spec:
  replicas: 1
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: quotesweb
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: quotesweb
    spec:
      containers:
        - name: quotes
          image: quay.io/donschenck/quotesweb:v1
          imagePullPolicy: Always
          ports:
            - containerPort: 3000
              protocol: TCP

Note that the pod name and app name do not need to be the same. Be careful here; this is where good management or poor management can a big difference.

Looking at the YAML file, we can see that the deployment (quotes-deployment.yaml) will use the following image:

quay.io/donschenck/quotes:v1

This is a Linux image that has data (six "Quote Of The Day"-type entries) hard-coded into the source code. Later, we'll upgrade to version 2, which reads quotes from a MariaDB database (which will also be running in our Kubernetes cluster).

Creating the frontend app (quotesweb)

Before we create the React.js frontend program, we need to change some code, build an image, and push the image to a publicly available registry from which we can pull it into our Kubernetes cluster.

The first thing we need to do is change the source code for the quotesweb application to point to the Route we created to the "quotes" service running in the Kubernetes cluster. We can find the URL of this route by running the following command:

kubectl get routes

For example:

kubectl get routes

The URL, plus the endpoint we need ("/quotes/random"), needs to be used in the "quotesweb" application. For example, a URL like the following:

http//quotes-rhn-engineering-dschenck-dev.apps.sandbox.x8i5.p1.openshiftapps.com/quotes/random

To do this, move into your "quotesweb/src/components" directory and change the file "quotes.js". Substitute your URL in the following line of code (it's line 26):

fetch('your-url-goes-here')

highlighted line of code to be changed in quotes.js

Save this change.

Move back into your "quotesweb" directory where the file "Dockerfile" is located, and build your image. You will need to use your own naming pattern based on your own image registry. For example, if you are using docker.io as your image registry, and your username there is "janedoe", you'd use the command docker build -t docker.io/janedoe/quotesweb:v1.

Here's the exact command I used. I'm using Red Hat's quay.io image registry:

docker build -t quay.io/donschenck/quotesweb:v1

No matter what image registry you use, you'll need to log in to it, e.g. docker login.

With the image built, push it to your image registry. For example:

docker push quay.io/donschenck/quotesweb:v1

The name of the image we create (e.g. "quay.io/donschenck/quotesweb:v1") will be used when we alter the deployment file, "quote-deployment.yaml". This deployment file is in the "k8s" subdirectory of "quotesweb". Find and change the following line, replacing the image name with your own image.

Optionally, you can leave it as-is and use the image that I've built.

image: quay.io/donschenck/quotesweb:v1

quotesweb deployment yaml file with image highlighted

This change will direct Kubernetes to pull your custom-built image in order to create the "quotesweb" frontend application.


Why use the external, publicly available route?

When you want one service in Kubernetes to communicate with another Kubernetes service, you use the internal service name. For example, the URL to communicate with the "quotes" service might be as follows: "http://quotes/quotes/random". But, because we are using a React.js application, this won't work. Remember: React works by sending a payload of JavaScript to the browser, where it executes. Because this JavaScript code, which is communicating with the RESTful API "quotes", is running outside of Kubernetes (i.e. in the browser), it must use a public URL to reach our backend ("quotes") service.

"But can't the whole world access this?"

Yes. If this were your actual production architecture, this is where you would implement a form of Authorization and/or use an API service (such as 3scale).


Time to get our front end "quotesweb" application up and running in our Kubernetes cluster.

In your quotesweb/k8s directory on your local machine, run the following three commands to create the Deployment, the Service, and the Route:

kubectl apply -f quotesweb-deployment.yaml
kubectl apply -f quotesweb-service.yaml
kubectl apply -f quotesweb-route.yaml

commands to create quotesweb app

Viewing quotesweb in our browser

kubectl get routes

kubectl get routes

Use the route for quotesweb; paste that into your browser.

quotesweb running in browser

Scale to meet demand

At this point, we have two apps (or Kubernetes services) running in our cluster. As you watch the quotesweb application in your browser, you will notice that the hostname is always the same. That's because we have one pod running our "quotes" service. We can prove this with the following command:

kubectl get pods

kubectl get pods

While Kubernetes can be configured to auto-scale (by spinning up additional pods), we can mimic this behavior from the command line and observe the results in our browser. As we increase the number of pods, you'll notice that there are multiple hosts serving quotes. Use the following command to increase the number of pods to three:

kubectl scale deployments/quotesweb --replicas=3

The next section of this tutorial will switch out the hard-coded quotes for quotes stored in a MariaDB database.

Creating a Persistent Volume Claim

While many Kubernetes database solutions offer an ephemeral option, that won't suffice for us. We need to make sure the database files remain intact even when the pods running MariaDB are deleted. This requires a Persistent Volume Claim, or PVC.

In your quotesmysql directory you'll find the file "mysqlvolume.yaml". We're creating a PVC with the name "mysqlvolume", and it's 5 GB in size, using the host file system. This is where we'll direct the MariaDB app to place the data files it needs.

apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
metadata:
  name: mysqlvolume
spec:
  resources:
    requests:
      storage: 5Gi
  volumeMode: Filesystem
  accessModes:
    - ReadWriteOnce

Create the PVC by running the following command:

kubectl apply -f mysqlvolume.yaml

create and show PVC

Creating a Secret to be used to create the database.

Navigate to the "quotesmysql" on your local PC. You'll find the file "mysql-secret.yaml".

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: mysqlpassword
type: Opaque
data:
  password: YWRtaW4=

A note about the password: This is a Base64-encoded ASCII string from the value "admin".

In Linux, you get this value by running:

echo -n 'my-string' | base64

For PowerShell, see the contents of the file "create_encoded_password.ps1".

$p = 'admin'
$b = [System.Text.Encoding]::ASCII.GetBytes($p)
$e =[Convert]::ToBase64String($b)
"Encoded password ($p) is: $e"

Create the secret by running the following command:

kubectl apply -f mysql-secret.yaml

Creating a MariaDB database app

In your quotesmysql directory, you'll find the file "mysql-deployment.yaml". Notice the password name, the persistentVolumeClaim, and the volumeMounts information. These entries should look familiar; we just created those things.

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: mysql
spec:
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: mysql
      tier: database
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: mysql
        tier: database
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: mariadb
        env:
        - name: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD
          valueFrom:
            secretKeyRef:
              name: mysqlpassword
              key: password
        image: mariadb
        resources:
          limits:
            memory: "128Mi"
            cpu: "500m"
        ports:
        - containerPort: 3306
        volumeMounts:
        - name: mysqlvolume
          mountPath: /var/lib/mysql
      volumes:
       - name: mysqlvolume
         persistentVolumeClaim:
           claimName: mysqlvolume

We now have all the pieces to spin up a MariaDB database in our Kubernetes cluster. To get things going, run the following command:

kubectl apply -f mysql-deployment.yaml

Populating the database

Hint: You could put all of the following commands into a script.

PowerShell:

We need the name of the pod running MariaDB. Note that the pod name begins with "mysql". Use the following command:

kubectl get pods

For example:

kubectl get pods results

This puts the pod name into a variable to be used in the remaining command. In this particulate example, the pod name is "mysql-65c8cd6dc6-fs2zj".

Use the name to run the following command, substituting the name of your MariaDB pod:

$podname="{mysql pod name from previous kubectl get pods command}"

For example:

$podname="mysql-65c8cd6dc6-fs2zj"

Copy the database creation commands into the pod and execute the script.   

kubectl cp ./create_database_quotesdb.sql ${podname}:/tmp/create_database_quotesdb.sql
kubectl cp ./create_database.sh ${podname}:/tmp/create_database.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/create_database.sh

Copy the table creating commands into the pod and execute the script.

kubectl cp ./create_table_quotes.sql ${podname}:/tmp/create_table_quotes.sql
kubectl cp ./create_tables.sh ${podname}:/tmp/create_tables.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/create_tables.sh

Populate the table

kubectl cp ./populate_table_quotes_POWERSHELL.sql ${podname}:/tmp/populate_table_quotes_POWERSHELL.sql
kubectl cp ./quotes.csv ${podname}:/tmp/quotes.csv
kubectl cp ./populate_tables_POWERSHELL.sh ${podname}:/tmp/populate_tables_POWERSHELL.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/populate_tables_POWERSHELL.sh

Query table to prove our work

kubectl cp ./query_table_quotes.sql ${podname}:/tmp/query_table_quotes.sql
kubectl cp ./query_table_quotes.sh ${podname}:/tmp/query_table_quotes.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/query_table_quotes.sh

Bash:  

We need the name of the pod running MariaDB. Note that the pod name begins with "mysql". Use the following command:

kubectl get pods

For example:

kubectl get pods results

Use the name to run the following command, substituting the name of your MariaDB pod:

export PODNAME="{mysql pod name from previous kubectl get pods command}"

For example:

export PODNAME="mysql-65c8cd6dc6-fs2zj"

This puts the pod name into a variable to be used in the remaining command. In this particulate example, the pod name is "mysql-65c8cd6dc6-fs2zj".

Copy the database creation commands into the pod and execute the script.   

kubectl cp ./create_database_quotesdb.sql $PODNAME:/tmp/create_database_quotesdb.sql
kubectl cp ./create_database.sh $PODNAME:/tmp/create_database.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/create_database.sh

Copy the table creating commands into the pod and execute the script.

kubectl cp ./create_table_quotes.sql $PODNAME:/tmp/create_table_quotes.sql
kubectl cp ./create_tables.sh $PODNAME:/tmp/create_tables.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/create_tables.sh

Populate the table

kubectl cp ./populate_table_quotes_BASH.sql $PODNAME:/tmp/populate_table_quotes_BASH.sql
kubectl cp ./quotes.csv $PODNAME:/tmp/quotes.csv
kubectl cp ./populate_tables_BASH.sh $PODNAME:/tmp/populate_tables_BASH.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/populate_tables_BASH.sh

Query table to prove our work

kubectl cp ./query_table_quotes.sql $PODNAME:/tmp/query_table_quotes.sql
kubectl cp ./query_table_quotes.sh $PODNAME:/tmp/query_table_quotes.sh
kubectl exec deploy/mysql -- /bin/bash ./tmp/query_table_quotes.sh

DevOps

Write these scripts. Automate. Then, save those scripts in the git repo with the project. Operations can then come along, duplicate what you've done, and improve on the scripts. You're a Developer. Working with Operations. DevOps.

Expose service

This will expose the MariaDB database as a service inside our Kubernetes cluster. If you don't do this, your other applications will not be able to discover this service. This entire concept of naming your services and making them visible to other services is known as "service discovery". Kubernetes can discover pods by a label that you assign instead of a random name or IP address.

Use this command to create the service we'll call "mysql":

kubectl expose deploy/mysql --name mysql --port 3306 --type NodePort

We get to assign the name: In this case we're calling it "mysql". We can then reference it by this name from other applications. For example, the code to connect to the database in our "quotes" program, which is written in Python, is as follows:

        conn = mariadb.connect(
            user="root",
            password="admin",
            host=os.environ['DB_SERVICE_NAME'],
            database="quotesdb",
            port=3306)

This is a terrible example of code. The user and password are here in clear text. Earlier, we used a Kubernetes Secret object when creating the database application. In real life, you would also create a secret for use by your Python code. Which is an outstanding assignment left to you, the reader. Hint: You need to import the Kubernetes client for Python to access Kubernetes secrets.

Update backend program (quotes) to Version 2

At this point, we have a frontend application ("quotesweb") talking to the backend app ("quotes"). We also have a database, running in service "mysql". What we need to do is update our backend app to use our database.

Kubernetes will do this on the fly, doing what's called a "rolling update". We already have a Version 2 image in an image registry, so all we need to do is change the image in our deployment of "quotes" to point to Version 2. Kubernetes will pull the image, spin up a pod running Version 2, and then will switch the routing to Version 2.

To do this, simply use the following command; it's literally this easy:

kubectl set image deploy quotes quotes=quay.io/donschenck/quotes:v2

After a few seconds -- seconds, not minutes -- you may need to refresh your browser. At that point, you will notice that there are several more quotes being randomly accessed.

Hint: What would happen if you switched back to v1?

What did you do?

You created a backend app. You created a frontend app, and connected the two.

You create a database app running in Kubernetes, and you populated it from your command line.

You scaled an application with one command.

You updated an application on the fly.

Destroying the MariaDB pod

Because we use a PVC for our database, instead of an ephemeral database, our data remains intact when a pod falls over. You can prove this by deleting the pod running your MariaDB database. Kubernetes will replace the pod immediately and MariaDB will restart. With no operator intervention. Go ahead, give it a try:

PowerShell:

kubectl delete pod ${podname}

Bash:

kubectl delete pod $PODNAME

You know Kubernetes

You know Kubernetes! Granted, it's just a start, but you're on your way. Congratulations. We have a virtual ton of information available at developers.redhat.com. I suggest you start at KubernetesByExample.com. See you there.

Last updated: August 12, 2021

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