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Run Apache APISIX on Microsoft Azure Container Instance

Introduction

Apache APISIX is an open-source Microservice API gateway and platform designed for managing microservices requests of high availability, fault tolerance, and distributed system. You can install Apache APISIX by the different methods (Docker, Helm, or RPM) and run it in the various public cloud providers because of its cloud-native behavior. In this post, you will learn how easily run Apache APISIX API Gateway in Azure Container Instances with multiple containers (Apisix and etcd) straight from Docker CLI.

☝️Alternatively, there are a bunch of options you can also deploy APISIX in Azure:

Azure Kubernetes Service, if you want a complete orchestration solution and if you need to manage your deployment and infrastructure.
Azure Service Fabric for containers and services orchestration.
Azure Compute, to build your own solution.

In this walkthrough, you will

✔️ Create an Azure resource group.
✔️ Configure Azure Container Instances.
✔️ Create an Azure context for Docker to offload Apisix and etcd containers execution to ACI.
✔️ Get Apache APISIX example source code for Docker from GitHub.
✔️ Modify Docker compose file there.
✔️ Setup volumes in Azure Storage Account with Azure File Share.
✔️ Add APISIX config files to Azure File Share.
✔️ Bring up APISIX in Azure Container Instances.
✔️ Verify APISIX running.
✔️ Cleanup after you finish.

Prerequisites

➡️ Azure subscription - create a free account before you begin.
➡️ Azure CLI - you must have Azure CLI installed on your local computer hence we are going to use Azure CLI to interact with all Azure resources. See Install the Azure CLI how to set up.
➡️ Docker Desktop - you need also Docker desktop installed locally to complete this tutorial. It is available for Windows or macOS. Or install the Docker ACI Integration CLI for Linux.

We use Docker Compose to define and deploy two containers for Apisix and etcd as a container group in Azure Container Instances.

APISIX uses etcd to save and synchronize configuration. Before installing APISIX, you need to install etcd on your machine. It would be installed automatically if you choose the Docker compose, so it is a perfect fit for this example.

💁Run containers in Azure Container Instances on-demand when you develop cloud-native apps like APISIX with Docker and you want to switch seamlessly from local development to cloud deployment. This excellent capability is enabled by integration between Docker and Azure

Create a resource group

Before you create and manage your APISIX container instance, you need a resource group to deploy it to. A resource group is a logical collection into which all Azure resources are deployed and managed.

Create a resource group with the az group create command. In the following example, a resource group named apisix is created in the centralus region:

az group create --name apisix --location centralus
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Configure Azure Container Instances

You can now run the Azure CLI with the az command from any command-line interface.

Note that I used Windows OS with Docker desktop installed on my machine for this demo and I run az commands from either Windows Command Prompt or PowerShell.

We use Docker commands to run containers in Azure Container Instances, so the first thing we need to log into Azure by running the following command:

docker login azure
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You can also log in using a Service Principal (SP). Provide the id and password of the SP using --client-id and --client-secret arguments when calling docker login azure.

Create an Azure context

Once logged in, you will create an ACI context by running docker context create aci. The context is responsible for associating requests issued by Docker CLI to nodes or clusters in ACI. For example, to create a context called apisixacicontext you can use:

docker context create aci apisixacicontext
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docker context create is an interactive command. It guides you through the process of configuring a new Docker context for our existing Azure resource group.

Run docker context ls to confirm that you added the ACI context to your Docker contexts:

docker context ls
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Output:

docker context ls output

Next, change to the ACI context. Subsequent Docker commands run in this context.

docker context use apisixacicontext
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Get Apache APISIX from GitHub

In this demo, we are using Apache APISIX Docker repo and it contains an example docker-compose.yaml file and other config files that show how to start APISIX using docker compose. We try out this example:

Use git to clone the repository and cd into the example folder.

git clone 'https://github.com/apache/apisix-docker'
cd apisix-docker/example
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Modify Docker compose file

Next, open docker-compose.yaml in a text editor. The example docker compose file defines several services: apisix-dashboard, apisix, etcd, web1, web2, prometheus, and grafana:

  • apisix-dashboard, apisix, etcd are the essential services required for starting apisix-dashboard, apisix, and etcd.
  • web1, web2 are sample backend services used for testing purposes. They use nginx-alpine image.
  • prometheus, grafana are services used for exposing metrics of the running services.

For the sake of simplicity, we are going to use and run only APISIX and etcd services in this demo. We can simply do the following changes by removing other services and defining volumes like etcd-data and apisix-data. In the next step, we use Azure file share as volumes.

version: "3"

services:
  apisix:
    image: apache/apisix:2.13.1-alpine
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - apisix-data:/apisix/conf/
    depends_on:
      - etcd
    ports:
      - "9080:9080/tcp"
      - "9091:9091/tcp"
      - "9443:9443/tcp"
      - "9092:9092/tcp"
    networks:
      apisix:

  etcd:
    image: bitnami/etcd:3.4.15
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - etcd-data:/bitnami/etcd
    environment:
      ETCD_ENABLE_V2: "true"
      ALLOW_NONE_AUTHENTICATION: "yes"
      ETCD_ADVERTISE_CLIENT_URLS: "http://0.0.0.0:2379"
      ETCD_LISTEN_CLIENT_URLS: "http://0.0.0.0:2379"
    ports:
      - "2379:2379/tcp"
    networks:
      apisix:

networks:
  apisix:
    driver: bridge

volumes:
  etcd-data:
    driver: azure_file
    driver_opts:
      share_name: etcdshare
      storage_account_name: apisixstorage
  apisix-data:
    driver: azure_file
    driver_opts:
      share_name: apisixshare
      storage_account_name: apisixstorage
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Setup volumes using Azure file share

Apache APISIX has to persist etcd state and mount external configuration files like /apisix_conf/conf.yaml (defines the configs for apisix) in the repo folder onto the containers. You can store persistent data outside of the container-filesystem in ACI using Azure file share since Azure Container Instances are stateless. If the container is restarted, crashes, or stops, all of its state is lost.

ℹ️ More about how to mount an Azure file share in Azure Container Instances

As you may notice, we declared two volumes in docker-compose.yaml file and set the driver to azure_file. Before using an Azure file share with Azure Container Instances, you must create a new Azure Storage account to host the file share and add a file share to it. To create Azure storage with the name, for example, apisixstorage :

az storage account create --resource-group apisix --name apisixstorage --location centralus --sku Standard_LRS
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Run the following two commands to create two Azure file shares combined with the required Azure Storage Account respectively using docker volume create.

For the first volume apisixshare:

docker volume create apisixshare --storage-account apisixstorage
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For the second volume etcdshare:

docker volume create etcdshare --storage-account apisixstorage
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You can see created the storage with two files shares in the Azure portal too.

Storage with 2 file shares

Having the volume in place, we can run stateful APISIX in ACI as shown in the next section.

Add APISIX config files to Azure File Share

Now we need to upload manually Apache APISIX config files to Azure File Share. You can simply use the Azure portal to do so. Or you can always use az storage file upload Azure CLI command.

  1. Find the File shares from the navigation bar of apisixstorage storage we created in the previous step and select apisixshare file-share to open. The fileshare panel opens.

apisixshare

  1. In the menu at the top, select Upload. The Upload files panel opens. Download and add all files including directories from Apache APISIX conf folder. The final list of config files in apisixshare file-share should match Apache APISIX conf folder. Similar to the output below:

apisixshare with all config files

Here one more thing notice whatever the files you will add/update in file share it will add/update in container as well after you mount the file share as volume to the container. However, there are some limitations to this like you can only mount the whole share and not the subfolders or single file within it that's why we define the mount path to be /apisix/conf in the volume property of docker-compose.yaml file. Read more about other limitations.

...
volumes:
 - apisix-data:/apisix/conf/
...
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Behind the scene, ACI copies all the above config files from apisixshare file-share to /apisix/conf/ folder in Linux APISIX container.

Apisix container bash

Bring up APISIX in ACI

Finally, now we can deploy APISIX with etcd to Azure Container Instances. Execute docker compose up to create the container group in Azure Container Instances.

docker compose up
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Wait until the container group is deployed. Then, you can also verify container instances are created in the Azure portal.

Apisix container instances

You can also assign the value apisixaci to the domainname property under apisix service in the docker-compose.yaml file which results a custom DNS name in ACI. In other words, you instruct Azure to link a subdomain of azurecontainer.io to the public IP address of the exposed container. The FQDN (the fully qualified domain name) follows the schema and will expose APISIX instance on apisixaci.centralus.azurecontainer.io serving the proxy on port 9080. However, with the current configuration, we can access our APISIX with its the public IP address.

Next, you run docker ps to see the running containers and the IP address assigned to the container group.

Apisix is running in ACI

To see the logs of the APISIX, run the docker logs command. For example:

docker logs example_apisix
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Sample output:

...
2022/06/11 19:02:45 [warn] 211#211: *4 [lua] plugin.lua:223: load_stream(): new plugins: {"limit-conn":true,"ip-restriction":true,"mqtt-proxy":true}, context: 
...
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Verify Apache APISIX running

To verify if Apache APISIX is running in the cloud, we run the below curl command and check the response from APISIX's REST Admin API. You need to replace ACI_PUBLIC_IP_ADDRESS to your container instance group's the public IP address or FQDN.

curl "http://{ACI_PUBLIC_IP_ADDRESS}:9080/apisix/admin/services/" -H 'X-API-KEY: edd1c9f034335f136f87ad84b625c8f1'
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The response indicates that APISIX is running successfully:

{
  "count":0,
  "action":"get",
  "node":{
    "key":"/apisix/services",
    "nodes":[],
    "dir":true
  }
}
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Here we go, Apache APISIX is up and running in Azure Container Instance group and responding to your requests 👏💪.

Troubleshoot😕

When you are requesting Apache APISIX Admin API, you may get 403 Forbidden HTTP status error. The reason is that your client IP address might be not whitelisted in the APISIX config file. The REST Admin API to control Apache APISIX, which only allows 127.0.0.1 access by default, you can modify the allow_admin field in conf/config.yaml to specify a list of IPs that are allowed to call the Admin API. Also, note that the Admin API uses key auth to verify the identity of the caller. The admin_key field in conf/config.yaml needs to be modified before deployment to ensure security.

  allow_admin:                  # http://nginx.org/en/docs/http/ngx_http_access_module.html#allow
    - 0.0.0.0/0  # We need to restrict ip access rules for security. 0.0.0.0/0 is for test.
    - YOUR_IP_ADDRESS

  admin_key:
    - name: "admin"
      key: YOUR_ADMIN_API_KEY
      role: admin                 # admin: manage all configuration data
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Cleanup after you finish

When you finish trying the application, stop the application and containers with docker compose down inside the apisix-docker/compose folder.

docker compose down
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This command deletes all containers apisix and etcd in Azure Container Instances.

You can also remove the Docker context created during this demo, use the docker context rm apisixacicontext command after switching back to the default context:

docker context use default
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Then, you run

docker context rm apisixacicontext
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Conclusion

Up to now, we learn how to deploy Apache APISIX to Azure Cloud with Docker Compose to switch from running a multi-container APISIX locally to running in Azure Container Instances. From this stage, you can create a route, upstream and manage the traffic to your backend services with the available built-in plugins if you want to take advantage of more APISIX's features. You can provision other services with APISIX Docker compose like prometheus, grafana as well.

Recommended content

➔ Watch Video Tutorial Getting Started with Apache APISIX

➔ Read the blog post Overview of Apache APISIX API Gateway Plugins

➔ Read the blog post Centralized Authentication with Apache APISIX Plugins

➔ Read the blog post API Security with OIDC by using Apache APISIX and Microsoft Azure AD

Community⤵️

🙋 Join the Apache APISIX Community
🐦 Follow us on Twitter
📝 Find us on Slack
📧 Mail to us with your questions

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