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Consul makes use of a HashiCorp service called Checkpoint which is used to check for updates and critical security bulletins. Only anonymous information, which cannot be used to identify the user or host, is sent to Checkpoint . An anonymous ID is sent which helps de-duplicate warning messages. This anonymous ID can be disabled. In fact, using the Checkpoint service is optional and can be disabled.
Consul uses the Serf gossip protocol which relies on TCP and UDP unicast. Broadcast and Multicast are rarely available in a multi-tenant or cloud network environment. For that reason, Consul and Serf were both designed to avoid any dependence on those capabilities.
Consul has two important subsystems, the service catalog and the gossip protocol. The service catalog stores all the nodes, service instances, health check data, ACLs, and KV information. It is strongly consistent, and replicated using the consensus protocol.
The gossip protocol is used to track which nodes are part of the cluster and to detect a node or agent failure. This information is eventually consistent by nature. When the servers detects a change in membership, or receive a health update, they update the service catalog appropriately.
Because of this split, the answer to the question is subtle. Almost all client APIs interact with the service catalog and are strongly consistent. Updates to the catalog may come via the gossip protocol which is eventually consistent, meaning the current state of the catalog can lag behind until the state is reconciled.
Consul does not currently support sending a delta or a change only response to a watcher or a blocking query. The API simply allows for an edge-trigger return with the full result. A client should keep the results of their last read and compute the delta client side.
By design, Consul offloads this to clients instead of attempting to support the delta calculation. This avoids expensive state maintenance on the servers as well as race conditions between data updates and watch registrations.
The Ports Used section of the Configuration documentation lists all ports that Consul uses.
There should be only a small number of open file descriptors required for a Consul client agent. The gossip layers perform transient connections with other nodes, each connection to the client agent (such as for a blocking query) will open a connection, and there will typically be connections to one of the Consul servers. A small number of file descriptors are also required for watch handlers, health checks, log files, and so on.
For a Consul server agent, you should plan on the above requirements and an additional incoming connection from each of the nodes in the cluster. This should not be the common case, but in the worst case if there is a problem with the other servers you would expect the other client agents to all connect to a single server and so preparation for this possibility is helpful.
The default ulimits are usually sufficient for Consul, but you should closely scrutinize your own environment's specific needs and identify the root cause of any excessive resource utilization before arbitrarily increasing the limits.
The limit on a key's value size is 512KB. This is strictly enforced and an HTTP 413 status will be returned to any client that attempts to store more than that limit in a value. It should be noted that the Consul key/value store is not designed to be used as a general purpose database. See Server Performance for more details.
In general, data is not replicated between different Consul datacenters. When a request is made for a resource in another datacenter, the local Consul servers forward an RPC request to the remote Consul servers for that resource and return the results. If the remote datacenter is not available, then those resources will also not be available, but that won't otherwise affect the local datacenter. There are some special situations where a limited subset of data can be replicated, such as with Consul's built-in ACL replication capability, or external tools like consul-replicate.
Consul is a distributed, highly available, datacenter-aware, service discovery and configuration system. It can be used to present services and nodes in a flexible and powerful interface that allows clients to always have an up-to-date view of the infrastructure they are a part of.
HashiCorp Consul is an open source tool that solves these new complexities by providing service discovery, health checks, load balancing, a service graph, mutual TLS identity enforcement, and a configuration key-value store. These features make Consul an ideal control plane for a service mesh.
We are pleased to announce the release of our official Docker image for Consul. Consul is a modern datacenter runtime that provides service discovery, configuration, and orchestration capabilities. Consul is our first tool to have an official Docker image.
The Consul agent is the core process of Consul. The agent maintains membership information, registers services, runs checks, responds to queries, and more. The agent must run on every node that is part of a Consul cluster. Any agent may run in one of two modes: client or server.
Consul Related Tutorials
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Consul Related Interview Questions
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