KV Descriptors


KVDescriptor implements CRUD operations and defines derived values and dependencies for a single value type. With these “descriptions”, the KVScheduler is then able to manipulate with key-value pairs generically, without having to understand what they actually represent. The scheduler uses the learned dependencies, reads the SB state using provided Dumps, and applies Add, Delete and Modify operations as needed to keep NB in-sync with SB.

In VPP-Agent v2, all the VPP and Linux plugins were re-written (and decoupled from each other), in a way that every supported configuration item is now described by its own descriptor inside the corresponding plugin, i.e. there is a descriptor for Linux interfaces, VPP interfaces, VPP routes, etc. The full list of existing descriptors can be found here.

This design pattern improves modularity, resulting in loosely coupled plugins, allowing further extensibility beyond the already supported configuration items. The KVScheduler is not even limited to VPP/Linux as the SB plane. Actually, the control plane for any system whose items can be represented as key-value pairs and operated through CRUD operations qualifies for integration with the framework. Here we provide a step-by-step guide to implementing and registering your own KVDescriptor.

Descriptor API

Let’s start first by understanding the descriptor API. First of all, descriptor is not an interface that needs to be implemented, but rather a structure to be initialized with right attribute values and callbacks to CRUD operations. This was chosen to reinforce the fact that descriptors are meant to be stateless - the state of values is instead kept by the scheduler and run-time information can be stored into the metadata optionally carried with each value. The state of the graph with values and their metadata should determine what exactly will be executed in the SB plane. The graph is already exposed via formatted logs and REST API, therefore if descriptors do not hide any state internally, the system state will be fully visible.

What follows is a list of all descriptor attributes, each with detailed explanation. Optional fields can be left uninitialized (zero values).

  • Name (string, mandatory)
    • put a name to your descriptor
    • it should be unique across all registered descriptors from all initialized plugins
  • KeySelector (callback, mandatory)
    • provide a callback that will return true for keys identifying values described by your descriptor (i.e. check that the key matches the key template of your model)
    • !!! danger “Important” Make sure your KeySelector function only returns true for keys from your Descriptor’s key space. Otherwise, your KeySelector function will be responding to key validation requests for keys that do not belong to your Descriptor, and the behavior of the KVScheduler will be undefined.
  • ValueTypeName (string, mandatory for non-derived values)
    • provide name of the protobuf message which defines your model
    • here is an example how the proto message name can be obtained from the generated type
  • KeyLabel (callback, optional)
    • optionally provide callback that will “shorten the key” and return value identifier, that, unlike the original key, only needs to be unique in the key scope of the descriptor and not necessarily in the entire key space (e.g. interface name rather than the full key)
    • if defined, key label will be used as value identifier in the metadata map (i.e. it for example allows to ask for interface metadata simply by the interface name rather than using a full key)
  • ValueComparator (callback, optional)
    • allows to optionally customize how two values are compared for equality
    • normally, the scheduler compares two values for the same key using proto.Equal to determine if Modify operation is needed
    • sometimes, however, different values for the same field may be equivalent - e.g. MTU 0 (default) might want to be treated as equivalent to MTU 1500 (i.e. change from 0 to 1500 or vice-versa should not trigger Modify)
  • NBKeyPrefix (string, optional)
    • put key prefix that the scheduler should watch in NB (e.g. etcd) to receive all values described by this descriptor
  • WithMetadata (boolean, by default false)
    • enable if values should carry run-time metadata alongside the configuration
    • metadata allows to maintain extra state data that may change with CRUD operations or after agent restart and cannot be determined just from the value itself (e.g. sw_if_index for interface)
    • metadata are often used to correlate NB configuration with dumped SB data
  • MetadataMapFactory (callback, optional)
    • can be used to provide a customized map implementation for value metadata, possibly extended with secondary lookups
    • if not defined, the scheduler will use the bare NamedMapping from the idxmap package.
  • Add (callback, mandatory)
    • provide callback implementing operation to create a new value (C from CRUD)
  • Delete (callback, mandatory)
    • provide callback implementing operation to delete an existing value (D from CRUD)
  • Modify (callback, mandatory unless update is always performed with full re-creation)
    • provide callback implementing operation to update an existing value (U from CRUD)
  • ModifyWithRecreate (callback, optional - by default it is assumed that re-creation is not needed)
    • sometimes, for some or all kinds of updates, SB plane does not provide specific Update operation, instead the value has to be re-created
    • provide callback that will tell if the given value change requires full re-creation
  • Update - DEPRECATED and will be removed with the next release, please leave undefined
  • IsRetriableFailure (callback, optional)
    • optionally tell scheduler if the given error, returned by one of Add/Delete/Modify handlers, will always be returned for the same value (non-retriable) or if the value can be theoretically fixed merely by repeating the operation
    • if the callback is not defined, every error will be considered retriable
  • Dependencies (callback, optional)
    • for value that has one or more dependencies, provide callback that will tell which keys must already exist for the value to be considered ready for creation
    • dependency can be specified either exactly with a specific key, or using predicate AnyOf that must return true for at least one of the keys of already created values for the dependency to be considered satisfied
    • The callback is optional - if not defined, the kv-pairs of the descriptor are assumed to have no dependencies
  • DerivedValues (callback, optional, will be renamed to Attributes in the next release)
    • to break the value into multiple pieces managed separately by different descriptors, provide callback DerivedValues
    • derived value is typically a single field of the original value or its property, with possibly its own dependencies (dependency on the source value is implicit), custom implementations for CRUD operations and potentially used as a target for dependencies of other key-value pairs
    • for example, every interface to be assigned to a bridge domain is treated as a separate key-value pair, dependent on the target interface to be created first, but otherwise not blocking the rest of the bridge domain to be applied
  • Retrieve (callback, optional)
  • provide callback implementing operation to read all values truly configured in the SB plane (R from CRUD)
  • it is optional in the sense that, if not provided, it is assumed that the Dump operation is not supported and therefore the state of SB for the given value type cannot be refreshed and will be assumed to be up-to-date (especially after an agent restart this might not be the case)
  • RetrieveDependencies (slice of strings, optional)
  • if in order to dump values, some other descriptors have to be dumped first, here you can list them
  • for example, in order to dump routes, interfaces have to be dumped first, to learn the mapping between interface names (NB ID) and their indexes (SB ID) from the metadata map of the interface plugin.

Descriptor Adapter

One inconvenience that you will quickly discover when using this generalized approach of value description, is that the KVDescriptor API uses bare proto.Message interface for values. It means that normally you cannot define Add, Modify, Delete and other callbacks directly for your model, instead you have to use proto.Message for input and output parameters and do all the re-typing inside the callbacks.

To workaround this drawback, KVScheduler is shipped with a utility called descriptor-adapter, generating an adapter for a given value type that will prepare and hide all the type conversions. The tool can be installed with:

make get-desc-adapter-generator

Then, to generate adapter for your descriptor, put go:generate command for descriptor-adapter to (preferably) your plugin’s main go file:

//go:generate descriptor-adapter --descriptor-name <your-descriptor-name>  --value-type <your-value-type-name> [--meta-type <your-metadata-type-name>] [--import <IMPORT-PATH>...] --output-dir "descriptor"

For example, go:generate for VPP interface can be found here. The import paths have to include packages with your own data type definitions for value (package with protobuf model) and, if used, also for metadata. The import path can be relative to the file with the go:generate command (hence the plugin’s top-level directory is prefered). Running go generate <your-plugin-path> will generate the adapter for your descriptor into adapter sub-directory.

Registering Descriptor

Once you have adapter generated and CRUD callbacks prepared, you can initialize and register your descriptor. First, import adapter into the go file with the descriptor (assuming recommended directory layout:

import "github.com/<your-organization>/<your-agent>/plugins/<your-plugin>/descriptor/adapter"

Next, add constructor that will return your descriptor initialized and ready for registration with the scheduler. The adapter will present the KVDescriptor API with value type and metadata type already casted to your own data types for every field:

func New<your-descriptor-name>Descriptor(<args>) *adapter.<your-descriptor-name>Descriptor {
    return &adapter.<your-descriptor-name>Descriptor{
        Name:        <your-descriptor-name>,
        KeySelector: <your-key-selector>,
                Add:         <your-Add-operation-implementation>,
                // etc., fill all the mandatory fields or whenever the default value is not suitable

Next, inside the Init method of your plugin, import the package with all your descriptors and register them using KVScheduler.RegisterKVDescriptor() method:

import "github.com/<your-organization>/<your-agent>/plugins/<your-plugin>/descriptor"

func (p *YourPlugin) Init() error {
    yourDescriptor1 = descriptor.New<descriptor-name>Descriptor(<args>)

As you can see, the KVScheduler becomes plugin dependency, which needs to be properly injected:

\\\\ plugin main go file:
import kvs "github.com/ligato/vpp-agent/plugins/kvscheduler/api"

type Deps struct {
    KVScheduler kvs.KVScheduler

\\\\ options.go
import "github.com/ligato/vpp-agent/plugins/kvscheduler"

func NewPlugin(opts ...Option) *<your-plugin> {
    p := &<your-plugin>{}
    // ...
    p.KVScheduler = &kvscheduler.DefaultPlugin
    // ...
    return p

In order to obtain and expose the metadata map (if used), call KVScheduler.GetMetadataMap(), after the descriptor has been registered, which will give you a map reference that can be then passed further via plugin’s own API for other plugins to access read-only. An example for VPP interface metadata map can be found here.

Plugin Directory Layout

While it is not mandatory, we recommend to follow the same directory layout used for all VPP-Agent plugins:

├── model/  // + generated code
│   ├── model1.proto
│   ├── model2.proto
│   ├── ...
│   └── <modeln>.proto
├── descriptor/
│   ├── adapter/
│   │   ├── <generated-adapter-for-every-descriptor>...
│   ├── <descriptor-for-model1>.go
│   ├── <descriptor-for-model2>.go
│   ├── ...
│   └── <descriptor-for-modeln>.go
├── <metadata-map> // if custom secondary index over metadata is needed
│   └── <map-impl>.go
├── <your-plugin>.go
└── options.go

Directory model is where you would put all your proto models and the code generated from it. descriptor directory is a place for all the descriptors implemented by your plugin, optionally adapted for a specific protobuf type with generated adapters nested further in the sub-directory adapter (adapters are quite hidden since they should never need to be looked at and definitely not edited manually). If you define custom metadata map, put the implementation into a separate plugin’s top-level directory, called for example <model>idx. is where you would implement the Plugin interface (Init, AfterInit, Close methods) and register all the descriptors inside the Init phase. It is a non-written rule to put plugin constructor and some default options and default dependency injections into the file (example option.go for VPP ifplugin).

Descriptor examples

Descriptor skeletons

For a quick start, you may use prepared skeleton of a plugin with a single descriptor, available in two variants: * without leveraging the support for metadata * with metadata, including custom metadata index map

Beware: extensive copy-pasting is actually a bad practise, so use the provided skeletons with caution and eventually learn how to write your own plugins from the scratch, using the skeletons only as a reference.

Mock SB

We have prepared an interactive hands-on example, demonstrating the KVScheduler framework using replicated vpp/ifplugin and vpp/l2plugin under various scenarios, where models are simplified and the VPP is replaced with a mock southbound, printing the triggered CRUD operations into the stdout instead of actually executing them. The example is fully focused on the scheduler and the descriptors, and on that abstraction level the actual SB underneath is irrelevant.

Real-world examples

Since all VPP and Linux plugins use the KVScheduler framework, there are already many descriptors in the repository to look at and clone. Even though interfaces are the basis of network configuration, we recommend to start studying descriptors for simpler objects, such as VPP ARPs and VPP routes, which have simple CRUD methods and a single dependency on the associated interface. Then, learn how to break a more complex object into multiple values using bridge domains and BD-interface bindings, derived one for every interface to be assigned into the domain, as an example. Finally, check out the Linux interface watcher, which shows that values may enter the graph even from below as SB notifications, and used as targets for dependencies by other objects. These descriptors cover most of the features and should help you to get started implementing your own.