13. Circuit Breaker: Hystrix Clients

Netflix has created a library called Hystrix that implements the circuit breaker pattern. In a microservice architecture it is common to have multiple layers of service calls.

Figure 13.1. Microservice Graph

HystrixGraph

A service failure in the lower level of services can cause cascading failure all the way up to the user. When calls to a particular service is greater than circuitBreaker.requestVolumeThreshold (default: 20 requests) and failue percentage is greater than circuitBreaker.errorThresholdPercentage (default: >50%) in a rolling window defined by metrics.rollingStats.timeInMilliseconds (default: 10 seconds), the circuit opens and the call is not made. In cases of error and an open circuit a fallback can be provided by the developer.

Figure 13.2. Hystrix fallback prevents cascading failures

HystrixFallback

Having an open circuit stops cascading failures and allows overwhelmed or failing services time to heal. The fallback can be another Hystrix protected call, static data or a sane empty value. Fallbacks may be chained so the first fallback makes some other business call which in turn falls back to static data.

13.1 How to Include Hystrix

To include Hystrix in your project use the starter with group org.springframework.cloud and artifact id spring-cloud-starter-netflix-hystrix. See the Spring Cloud Project page for details on setting up your build system with the current Spring Cloud Release Train.

Example boot app:

@SpringBootApplication
@EnableCircuitBreaker
public class Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        new SpringApplicationBuilder(Application.class).web(true).run(args);
    }

}

@Component
public class StoreIntegration {

    @HystrixCommand(fallbackMethod = "defaultStores")
    public Object getStores(Map<String, Object> parameters) {
        //do stuff that might fail
    }

    public Object defaultStores(Map<String, Object> parameters) {
        return /* something useful */;
    }
}

The @HystrixCommand is provided by a Netflix contrib library called "javanica". Spring Cloud automatically wraps Spring beans with that annotation in a proxy that is connected to the Hystrix circuit breaker. The circuit breaker calculates when to open and close the circuit, and what to do in case of a failure.

To configure the @HystrixCommand you can use the commandProperties attribute with a list of @HystrixProperty annotations. See here for more details. See the Hystrix wiki for details on the properties available.

13.2 Propagating the Security Context or using Spring Scopes

If you want some thread local context to propagate into a @HystrixCommand the default declaration will not work because it executes the command in a thread pool (in case of timeouts). You can switch Hystrix to use the same thread as the caller using some configuration, or directly in the annotation, by asking it to use a different "Isolation Strategy". For example:

@HystrixCommand(fallbackMethod = "stubMyService",
    commandProperties = {
      @HystrixProperty(name="execution.isolation.strategy", value="SEMAPHORE")
    }
)
...

The same thing applies if you are using @SessionScope or @RequestScope. You will know when you need to do this because of a runtime exception that says it can’t find the scoped context.

You also have the option to set the hystrix.shareSecurityContext property to true. Doing so will auto configure an Hystrix concurrency strategy plugin hook who will transfer the SecurityContext from your main thread to the one used by the Hystrix command. Hystrix does not allow multiple hystrix concurrency strategy to be registered so an extension mechanism is available by declaring your own HystrixConcurrencyStrategy as a Spring bean. Spring Cloud will lookup for your implementation within the Spring context and wrap it inside its own plugin.

13.3 Health Indicator

The state of the connected circuit breakers are also exposed in the /health endpoint of the calling application.

{
    "hystrix": {
        "openCircuitBreakers": [
            "StoreIntegration::getStoresByLocationLink"
        ],
        "status": "CIRCUIT_OPEN"
    },
    "status": "UP"
}

13.4 Hystrix Metrics Stream

To enable the Hystrix metrics stream include a dependency on spring-boot-starter-actuator. This will expose the /hystrix.stream as a management endpoint.

    <dependency>
        <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
        <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-actuator</artifactId>
    </dependency>