Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Pattern: Self / Third‑Party Registration


How are service instances registered with and unregistered from the service registry?


  • Service instances must be registered with the service registry on startup and unregistered on shutdown
  • Service instances that crash must be unregistered from the service registry
  • Service instances that are running but incapable of handling requests must be unregistered from the service registry.

The Self‑Registration Pattern

When using the self‑registration pattern, a service instance is responsible for registering and deregistering itself with the service registry. 

Also, if required, a service instance sends heartbeat requests to prevent its registration from expiring. The following diagram shows the structure of this pattern.

A good example of this approach is the Netflix OSS Eureka client. The Eureka client handles all aspects of service instance registration and deregistration.

The Spring Cloud project, which implements various patterns including service discovery, makes it easy to automatically register a service instance with Eureka. You simply annotate your Java Configuration class with an @EnableEurekaClient annotation.

The self‑registration pattern has various benefits and drawbacks. One benefit is that it is relatively simple and doesn’t require any other system components. However, a major drawback is that it couples the service instances to the service registry. You must implement the registration code in each programming language and framework used by your services.

The alternative approach, which decouples services from the service registry, is the third‑party registration pattern.

The Third‑Party Registration Pattern

When using the third-party registration pattern, service instances aren’t responsible for registering themselves with the service registry. Instead, another system component known as the service registrar handles the registration. The service registrar tracks changes to the set of running instances by either polling the deployment environment or subscribing to events. When it notices a newly available service instance it registers the instance with the service registry. The service registrar also deregisters terminated service instances. The following diagram shows the structure of this pattern.

One example of a service registrar is the open-source Registrator project. It automatically registers and deregisters service instances that are deployed as Docker containers. Registrator supports several service registries, including etcd and Consul.

Another example of a service registrar is NetflixOSS Prana. Primarily intended for services written in non‑JVM languages, it is a sidecar application that runs side by side with a service instance. Prana registers and deregisters the service instance with Netflix Eureka.

The service registrar is a built‑in component of deployment environments. The EC2 instances created by an Autoscaling Group can be automatically registered with an ELB. Kubernetes services are automatically registered and made available for discovery.

The third‑party registration pattern has various benefits and drawbacks. A major benefit is that services are decoupled from the service registry. You don’t need to implement service‑registration logic for each programming language and framework used by your developers.

Instead, service instance registration is handled in a centralized manner within a dedicated service.

One drawback of this pattern is that unless it’s built into the deployment environment, it is yet another highly available system component that you need to set up and manage.

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