Externalize Application Configuration


In this lab you will learn how to manage application configuration and how to provide environment specific configuration to the services.


Applications require configuration in order to tweak the application behavior or adapt it to a certain environment without the need to write code and repackage the application for every change. These configurations are sometimes specific to the application itself such as the number of products to be displayed on a product page and some other times they are dependent on the environment they are deployed in such as the database coordinates for the application.

The most common way to provide configurations to applications is using environment variables and external configuration files such as properties, JSON or YAML files, configuration files and command line arguments. These configuration artifacts should be externalized from the application and the container image content in order to keep the image portable across environments.

OpenShift provides a mechanism called ConfigMaps in order to externalize configurations from the applications deployed within containers and provide them to the containers in a unified way as files and environment variables. OpenShift also offers a way to provide sensitive configuration data such as certificates, credentials, etc. to the application containers in a secure and encrypted mechanism called Secrets.

This allows developers to build the container image for their application only once, and reuse that image to deploy the application across various environments with different configurations that are provided to the application at runtime.

Create Databases for Inventory and Catalog

So far Catalog and Inventory services have been using an in-memory H2 database. Although H2 is a convenient database to run locally on your laptop, it’s in no way appropriate for production or even integration tests. Since it’s strongly recommended to use the same technology stack (operating system, JVM, middleware, database, etc.) that is used in production across all environments, you should modify Inventory and Catalog services to use PostgreSQL/MariaDB instead of the H2 in-memory database.

Fortunately, OpenShift supports stateful applications such as databases which require access to a persistent storage that survives the container itself. You can deploy databases on OpenShift and regardless of what happens to the container itself, the data is safe and can be used by the next database container.

Let’s create a MariaDB database for the Inventory Service using the MariaDB template that is provided out-of-the-box:

OpenShift Templates use YAML/JSON to compose multiple containers and their configurations as a list of objects to be created and deployed at once, making it simple to re-create complex deployments by just deploying a single template. Templates can be parameterized to get input for fields like service names and generate values for fields like passwords.

In the OpenShift Web Console, click on '+Add' and select 'Database'

OpenShift - Add database

Select 'MariaDB (Ephemeral)' and click on 'Instantiate Template'

Then, enter the following information:

Table 1. Inventory Database
Parameter Value



Memory Limit*




Database Service Name*


MariaDB Connection Username


MariaDB Connection Password


MariaDB root Password


MariaDB Database Name*


Version of MariaDB Image*


Click on 'Create' button, shortly a Maria database pod should be created:-

OpenShift - Inventory MariaDB

Now click again on '+Add' and select 'Database', select 'PostgreSQL (Ephemeral)' and click on 'Instantiate Template' to create the Catalog Database as follows:

Then, enter the following information:

Table 2. Catalog Database
Parameter Value



Memory Limit*




Database Service Name*


PostgreSQL Connection Username


PostgreSQL Connection Password


PostgreSQL Database Name*


Version of PostgreSQL Image*


Click on 'Create' button, shortly a Postgresql dtabase pod should be created:-

OpenShift - Catalog PostgreSQL

Now you can move on to configure the Inventory and Catalog service to use these databases.

Give permissions to discover Kubernetes objects

By default, due to security reasons, containers are not allowed to snoop around OpenShift clusters and discover objects. Security comes first and discovery is a privilege that needs to be granted to containers in each project.

Since you do want our applications to discover the config maps inside the my-project%USER_ID% project, you need to grant permission to the Service Account to access the OpenShift REST API and find the config maps.

oc policy add-role-to-user view -n my-project%USER_ID% -z default

Externalize Quarkus (Inventory) Configuration

Quarkus supports multiple mechanisms for externalizing configurations such as environment variables, Maven properties, command-line arguments and more. The recommended approach for the long-term for externalizing configuration is however using an application.properties which you have already packaged within the Inventory Maven project.

In Quarkus, Driver is a build time property and cannot be overridden. So as you are going to change the database technology, you need to change the 'quarkus.datasource.driver' parameter in /projects/workshop/labs/inventory-quarkus/src/main/resources/application.properties and rebuild the application.

In your Workspace, edit the '/projects/workshop/labs/inventory-quarkus/pom.xml' file and add the 'JDBC Driver - MariaDB' dependency

      <artifactId>quarkus-kubernetes-config</artifactId> (1)
      <artifactId>quarkus-jdbc-mariadb</artifactId> (2)
1 Extension which allows developers to use Kubernetes ConfigMaps and Secrets as a configuration source, without having to mount them into the Pod running the Quarkus application or make any other modifications to their Kubernetes Deployment.
2 Extension which allows developers to connect to MariaDB databases using the JDBC driver

Then add the '%prod.quarkus.datasource.driver' parameter in the '/projects/workshop/labs/inventory-quarkus/src/main/resources/application.properties' file as follows

1 The kind of database we will connect to
2 If set to true, the application will attempt to look up the configuration from the API server
3 ConfigMaps to look for in the namespace that the Kubernetes Client has been configured for
With the %prod prefix, this option is only activated when building the jar intended for deployments.

Leave the 'quarkus.datasource.jdbc.url', 'quarkus.datasource.username' and 'quarkus.datasource.password' parameters unchanged. They will be overridden later.

Now, let’s create the Quarkus configuration content using the database credentials.

In the OpenShift Web Console, from the Developer view, click on 'Config Maps' then click on the 'Create Config Map' button.

Che - OpenShift Create Config Map

Then replace the content with the following input:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: inventory
  namespace: my-project%USER_ID%
    app: coolstore
    app.kubernetes.io/instance: inventory
  application.properties: |-

Click on the 'Create' button.

Once the source code is updated and the ConfigMap is created, build and push the updated Inventory Service to the OpenShift cluster.

The Inventory pod gets restarted automatically due to the configuration changes. Wait till it’s ready, and then verify that the config map is in fact injected into the container by checking if the seed data is loaded into the database.

Execute the following commands in the terminal window

oc rsh -n my-project%USER_ID% dc/inventory-mariadb

Once connected to the MariaDB container, run the following:

Run this command inside the Inventory MariaDB container, after opening a remote shell to it.

mysql --user=$MYSQL_USER --password=$MYSQL_PASSWORD --host=$HOSTNAME --execute="select * from INVENTORY" $MYSQL_DATABASE

You should have the following output:

| itemId | quantity |
| 100000 |        0 |
| 165613 |       45 |
| 165614 |       87 |
| 165954 |       43 |
| 329199 |       12 |
| 329299 |       35 |
| 444434 |       32 |
| 444435 |       53 |

Finally, exit from inside the database container:


You have now created a config map that holds the configuration content for Inventory and can be updated at anytime for example when promoting the container image between environments without needing to modify the Inventory container image itself.

Externalize Spring Boot (Catalog) Configuration

You should be quite familiar with config maps by now. Spring Boot application configuration is provided via a properties file called application.properties and can be overriden and overlayed via multiple mechanisms.

Check out the default Spring Boot configuration in Catalog Maven project catalog-spring-boot/src/main/resources/application.properties.

In this lab, you will configure the Catalog Service which is based on Spring Boot to override the default configuration using an alternative application.properties backed by a config map.

Let’s create the Spring Boot configuration content using the database credentials and create the Config Map.

In the OpenShift Web Console, from the Developer view, click on 'Config Maps' then click on the 'Create Config Map' button.

Che - OpenShift Create Config Map

Then replace the content with the following input:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: catalog
  namespace: my-project%USER_ID%
    app: coolstore
    app.kubernetes.io/instance: catalog
  application.properties: |-

The Spring Cloud Kubernetes plug-in implements the integration between Kubernetes and Spring Boot and is already added as a dependency to the Catalog Maven project. Using this dependency, Spring Boot would search for a config map (by default with the same name as the application) to use as the source of application configurations during application bootstrapping and if enabled, triggers hot reloading of beans or Spring context when changes are detected on the config map.

Delete the Catalog Pod to make it start again and look for the config maps:

oc delete pod -l component=catalog -n my-project%USER_ID%

When the Catalog container is ready, verify that the PostgreSQL database is being used. Check the Catalog pod logs repeatedly:

oc logs -c application deployment/catalog-coolstore -n my-project%USER_ID% | grep hibernate.dialect

You should have the following output:

2017-08-10 21:07:51.670  INFO 1 --- [           main] org.hibernate.dialect.Dialect            : HHH000400: Using dialect: org.hibernate.dialect.PostgreSQL95Dialect

You can also connect to the Catalog PostgreSQL database and verify that the seed data is loaded:

oc rsh -n my-project%USER_ID% dc/catalog-postgresql

Once connected to the PostgreSQL container, run the following:

Run this command inside the Catalog PostgreSQL container, after opening a remote shell to it.

psql catalogdb -U catalog -c "select item_id, name, price from product"

You should have the following output:

  item_id |              name               | price
  100000  | Red Fedora                      | 34.99
  329299  | Quarkus T-shirt                 |    10
  329199  | Pronounced Kubernetes           |     9
  165613  | Knit socks                      |  4.15
  444434  | Red Hat Impact T-shirt          |     9
  444435  | Quarkus twill cap               |    13
  165614  | Quarkus H2Go water bottle       | 14.45
  444437  | Nanobloc Universal Webcam Cover |  2.75
  165954  | Patagonia Refugio pack 28L      |     6
  (9 rows)

Finally, exit from inside the database container:


Explore Sensitive Configuration Data


ConfigMaps are a superb mechanism for externalizing application configuration while keeping containers independent of in which environment or on what container platform they are running. Nevertheless, due to their clear-text nature, they are not suitable for sensitive data like database credentials, SSH certificates, etc. In the current lab, we used config maps for database credentials to simplify the steps; however, for production environments, you should opt for a more secure way to handle sensitive data.

Fortunately, OpenShift already provides a secure mechanism for handling sensitive data which is called Secrets. Secret objects act and are used similarly to config maps however with the difference that they are encrypted as they travel over the wire and also at rest when kept on a persistent disk. Like config maps, secrets can be injected into containers as environment variables or files on the filesystem using a temporary file-storage facility (tmpfs).

You won’t create any secrets in this lab; however, you have already created two secrets when you created the PostgreSQL and MariaDB databases. The Database template by default stores the database credentials in a secret in the project in which it’s being created:

oc describe secret catalog-postgresql

You should have the following output:

Name:            catalog-postgresql
Namespace:       coolstore
Labels:          app=catalog
Annotations:     openshift.io/generated-by=OpenShiftNewApp

Type:     Opaque

database-name:        9 bytes
database-password:    7 bytes
database-user:        7 bytes

This secret has three encrypted properties defined as database-name, database-user and database-password which hold the PostgreSQL database name, username and password values. These values are injected in the PostgreSQL container as environment variables and used to initialize the database.

In the OpenShift Web Console, from the Developer view, click on 'DC catalog-postgresql' → 'DC catalog-postgresql' → 'Environment'. Notice the values from the secret are defined as env vars on the deployment:

Secrets as Env Vars

Test your Service (again)

Having made all those changes with adding databases and the application configuration you should now test that the Coolstore application still works. Just like you did a couple of chapters ago you need to use the toplogy display in the web console.

In the OpenShift Web Console, from the Developer view, click on the 'Open URL' icon of the Web Service

OpenShift - Web Topology

Your browser will be redirect to your Web Service running on OpenShift. You should be able to see the CoolStore application with all products and their inventory status.

CoolStore Shop

That’s all for this lab! You are ready to move on to the next lab.