» Registering an External Service

Very few infrastructures are entirely self-contained. Most rely on a multitude of external service providers. Consul supports this by allowing for the definition of external services, services that are not provided by a local node. There's also a companion project called Consul ESM which is a daemon that functions as an external service monitor that can help run health checks for external services.

Most services are registered in Consul through the use of a service definition. However, this approach registers the local node as the service provider. In the case of external services, we must instead register the service with the catalog rather than as part of a standard node service definition.

Once registered, the DNS interface will be able to return the appropriate A records or CNAME records for the service. The service will also appear in standard queries against the API. Consul must be configured with a list of recursors for it to be able to resolve external service addresses.

Let us suppose we want to register a "search" service that is provided by "www.google.com". We might accomplish that like so:

$ curl -X PUT -d '{"Datacenter": "dc1", "Node": "google",
   "Address": "www.google.com",
   "Service": {"Service": "search", "Port": 80}}'
   http://127.0.0.1:8500/v1/catalog/register

Add an upstream DNS server to the list of recursors to Consul's configuration. Example with Google's public DNS server: text "recursors":["8.8.8.8"]

If we do a DNS lookup now, we can see the new search service:

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P1 <<>> @127.0.0.1 -p 8600 search.service.consul.
; (1 server found)
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 13313
;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 4, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;search.service.consul.     IN  A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
search.service.consul.  0   IN  CNAME   www.google.com.
www.google.com.     264 IN  A   74.125.239.114
www.google.com.     264 IN  A   74.125.239.115
www.google.com.     264 IN  A   74.125.239.116

;; Query time: 41 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#8600(127.0.0.1)
;; WHEN: Tue Feb 25 17:45:12 2014
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 178

If at any time we want to deregister the service, we simply do:

$ curl -X PUT -d '{"Datacenter": "dc1", "Node": "google"}' http://127.0.0.1:8500/v1/catalog/deregister

This will deregister the google node along with all services it provides.

For more information, please see the HTTP Catalog API.