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Harden your app

VMware Tanzu Labs

You will demonstrate how to harden your pal-tracker application running on Tanzu Application Service for scaling and availability characteristics.

Learning outcomes

After completing the lab, you will be able to:

  • Tune your application for disposability.

  • Tune your application to run optimally in a container

Getting started

Codebase and manifest

  1. You must have completed (or fast-forwarded to) the Health Monitoring lab. You must have your pal-tracker application associated with the actuator-solution codebase deployed and running on Tanzu Application Service.

  2. In a terminal window, make sure you start in the ~/workspace/pal-tracker directory.

  3. Cherry-pick the start point of this lab:

    git cherry-pick scaling-availability-start

    Note: You will likely receive a git merge conflict message after executing the cherry-pick, either on the route you defined, or the JBP_CONFIG_OPEN_JDK_JRE environment variable change with the explicit memory_calcuator stack_threads configuration, or with the YAML indentation. Make sure to clean the up the merge conflicts, and pick the updated JBP_CONFIG_OPEN_JDK_JRE configuration. After that, stage your change and complete the cherry-pick operation:

    git add manifest.yml
    git cherry-pick --continue
  4. This will pull in updates for the following:

    • pal-tracker manifest file with the desired initial state of your app.
    • Scripts you will use to enable and tear down the autoscaling in a later lab.
  5. Ensure you have the latest code built on your local machine that includes all the updates from the previous labs, or as of the actuator-solution point:

    ./gradlew clean build
  6. Assuming you are running pal-tracker now, delete it:

    cf delete pal-tracker -f

    You will push it with the desired start configuration later in the lab.


In this lab you will exercise your pal-tracker application under load, monitor it, and tune it.

You can monitor the pal-tracker application through the following:

  • Command line via the following cf commands:

    • cf app pal-tracker
    • cf events pal-tracker
  • Apps Manager user interface.

If you choose to monitor via the command line you will need a minimum of four terminal windows open.

If you choose to monitor with Apps Manager you will need only one.

Review the current state of your application


Review the pal-tracker manifest file.

git show scaling-availability-start:manifest.yml

Notice the new parameters added, they reflect the defaults the Tanzu Application Service sets on your behalf:

  1. java_buildpack_offline: Given that the pal-tracker app is a Java app, this buildpack is the one that would automatically be detected and used to build the app’s droplet. From here on, it is explicitly set in the manifest, which will speed up the staging process.

  2. stack: cflinuxfs3 is the default Linux file system stack from which the droplet and associated containers will derive.

  3. memory: 1G is the default container memory allocation quota. This is not the Java heap size. You will see shortly the Memory Calculator will configure your Java options for you automatically.

  4. disk_quota: 1G is the default allocated disk quota.

  5. instances: 1 is the default number of pal-tracker app instances and associated containers.

  6. health-check-type: port is the default mode of Diego to check the health of the pal-tracker application. Diego will attempt to connect to the pal-tracker application on port 8080.

  7. timeout: 60 seconds is the default time interval that Diego will wait for the health check to succeed on start up before giving up and retrying.

  8. JBP_CONFIG_OPEN_JDK_JRE: '{ jre: { version: 11.+ }, memory_calculator: { stack_threads: 250 } }' is the environment variable that sets the buildpack Java version, and optionally memory calculator tuning. The stack_threads value of 250 is the default.

  9. MANAGEMENT_ENDPOINTS_WEB_EXPOSURE_INCLUDE environment variable is set for you. This is added to expose the default and palTrackerFailure actuator endpoint you will use in this lab.

You can see the entire list of Tanzu Application Service manifest attributes.

Push and monitor the state of your app

  1. Push your pal-tracker application.

    cf push
  2. Wait for your app to complete startup:

    name:              pal-tracker
    requested state:   started
         state     since                  cpu    memory    disk      details
    #0   running   2020-12-01T00:42:33Z   0.0%   0 of 1G   0 of 1G

For the remainder of the lab you will monitor the state of the pal-tracker application.

You can navigate to the pal-tracker application overview page in Apps Manager, or you can monitor from command line:

  1. In a separate terminal window, run the following command,

    watch cf app pal-tracker

    You will see in the later instructions this is referred to as the cf app watch window.

  2. In a separate terminal window, run a watch for pal-tracker events:

    watch cf events pal-tracker

    Notice that the events are ordered from the most recent at the top to the oldest at the bottom.

    You will see in the later instructions this is referred to as the cf events watch window.

Keep both these windows open and running for the rest of the lab.

Startup time

  1. After the application completes its startup, review the logs since startup:

    cf logs pal-tracker --recent
  2. Review the time stamp of the line that contains the following message:

    Starting health monitoring of container

    It should look something like:

    2020-11-30T18:42:26.37-0600 [CELL/0] OUT Starting health monitoring of container
  3. Review the time stamp of the line that contains the following message:

    Container became healthy

    It should look something like:

    2020-11-30T18:42:33.06-0600 [CELL/0] OUT Container became healthy
  4. What is the elapsed time it took for the health monitoring to start, and when Diego cell detected the healthy pal-tracker application instance?

Container resources

  1. Dedicate one of your open terminal windows to run some load against your application. You will use the docker-loadtest tool as follows, using your review environment url you configured in your manifest:

    docker run -i -t --rm -e DURATION=300 -e NUM_USERS=10 -e REQUESTS_PER_SECOND=5 -e URL=http://pal-tracker-${UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER}.${DOMAIN}  pivotaleducation/loadtest

    where the

    • NUM_USERS option value is number of simulated users/threads
    • DURATION option value is the max duration of the test (seconds)
    • REQUESTS_PER_SECOND option value is the number of requests per second.
  2. In either Apps Manager or the cf app Watch window, monitor the amount of CPU, memory and disk resources taken for the test.

  3. Let your load test complete, or terminate it by Ctrl+C.

Questions for production hardening

Based on what you have seen with your pal-tracker application so far, is it optimally tuned for production?

  1. Are the resources allocated by the pal-tracker instance really needed? Can you perhaps tune down the memory and disk resources allocated to the pal-tracker application instance?

  2. Is the 60-second startup interval really needed by Diego based on the startup time characteristic of the pal-tracker application? Can you perhaps tune it down, such that a misbehaving pal-tracker instance can fail faster for better disposability characteristics?

  3. Do you have enough instances to make your pal-tracker application available? What if a platform operator is doing daily planned maintenance that would take down the cell in which your application instance is running? What if your application instance crashes? How many instances should you run at a minimum to account for concurrent planned and unplanned outage of individual instances?

  4. Is the port health check optimal for a request/response (blocking) Java web application? What if your pal-tracker application stalls on Java garbage collection? What if it runs out of threads? What type of health check would be optimal, and which Spring Boot Actuator feature could you use for that health check?

  5. What about CPU resources? How does Tanzu Application Service handle that?

Production hardening

You will now configure your application to improve its production characteristics.


Configure the following in the manifest.yml file:

  1. Configure the disk quota for 256M.

  2. Configure the memory quota for 512M.

  3. Configure the JBP_CONFIG_OPEN_JDK_JRE environment variable, memory_calculatorstack_threads to 100.

    The app will not start with the container memory quota reduced to 512M and the default stack thread configuration.

  4. Configure 3 instances.

  5. Configure a http health check type:

    • Change the health-check-type from port to http
    • Add a new manifest attribute health-check-http-endpoint with a value configured to the associated endpoint of the pal-tracker Spring Boot application’s liveness probe endpoint.
    • Configure the MANAGEMENT_HEALTH_PROBES_ENABLED environment variable with a value of true to enable the liveness probe.
  6. Tune down the startup health check timeout to roughly twice the start up time of your pal-tracker application that you measured in the Startup time section step 4 (and round up to next 10 second interval).

  7. Push your updated configuration:

    cf push
  8. Wait until all the pal-tracker instances start.

If you get stuck, you can look at the solution here:

git show scaling-availability-solution:manifest.yml

Notice that you are not configuring CPU resource allocation. Read about how Tanzu Application Service works with CPU.

Wrap up

Review the Scaling slides about how scaling is handled on Tanzu Application Service.

Now that you have completed the lab, you should be able to:

  • Tune your application for disposability.

  • Tune your application to run optimally in a container.