Posts Tagged ‘Reverse Proxy’

Preserve Session IDs of Tomcat cluster behind Apache reverse proxy / Sticky sessions with mod_proxy and Tomcat

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Having a combination of Apache webservice Reverse Proxy to redirect invisibly traffic to a number of Tomcat server positioned in a DMZ is a classic task in big companies Corporate world.
Hence if you work for company like IBM or HP sooner or later you will need to configure Apache Webserver cluster with few running Jakarta Tomcat Application servers behind. Scenario with necessity to access a java based application via Tomcat which requires logging (authentication) relaying on establishing and keeping a session ID is probably one of the most common ones and if you do it for first time you will probably end up with Session ID issues.  Session ID issues are hard to capture at first as on first glimpse application will seem to be working but users will have to re-login all the time even though the programmers might have coded for a session to expiry in 30 minutes or so.

… I mean not having configured Session ID prevention to Tomcats will cause random authentication session expiries and users using the Tomcat app will be unable to normally access below application with authenticated credentials. The solution to these is known under term "Sticky sessions"
To configure Sticky sessions you need to already have configured Apache/s with following minimum configuration:

  • enabled mod_proxy, proxy_balancer_module, proxy_http_module and or mod_proxy_ajp (in Apache config)

  LoadModule proxy_module modules/
LoadModule proxy_balancer_module modules/
LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/

  • And configured and tested Tomcats running an Application reachable via AJP protocol

Below example assumes there is Reverse Proxy Load Balancer Apache which has to forward all traffic to 2 tomcats. The config can easily be extended for as many as necessary by adding more BalancerMembers.

In Apache webserver (apache2.conf / httpd.conf) you need to have JSESSIONID configured. These JSESSIONID is going to be appended to each client request from Reverse Proxy to each of Tomcat servers with value opened once on authentication to first Tomcat node to each of the other ones.

<Proxy balancer://mycluster>
BalancerMember ajp:// route=delivery1
BalancerMember ajp:// route=delivery2

ProxyRequests Off
ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster/ stickysession=JSESSIONID
ProxyPassReverse / balancer://mycluster/

The two variables route=delivery1 and route=delivery2 are routed to hosts identificators that also has to be present in Tomcat server configurations
In Tomcat App server First Node (server.xml)

<Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost" jvmRoute="delivery1">

In Tomcat App server Second Node (server.xml)

<Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost" jvmRoute="delivery2">

Once Sticky Sessions are configured it is useful to be able to track they work fine this is possible through logging each of established JESSSIONIDs, to do so add in httpd.conf

LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"\"%{JSESSIONID}C\"" combined

After modifications restart Apache and Tomcat to load new configs. In Apache access.log the proof should be the proof that sessions are preserved via JSESSIONID, there should be logs like: - - [18/Sep/2013:10:02:02 +0800] "POST /examples/servlets/servlet/RequestParamExample HTTP/1.1" 200 662 "http://localhost/examples/servlets/servlet/RequestParamExample" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130807 Firefox/17.0""B80557A1D9B48EC1D73CF8C7482B7D46.server2" - - [18/Sep/2013:10:02:06 +0800] "GET /examples/servlets/servlet/RequestInfoExample HTTP/1.1" 200 693 "http://localhost/examples/servlets/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130807 Firefox/17.0""B80557A1D9B48EC1D73CF8C7482B7D46.server2"

That should solve problems with mysterious session expiries 🙂

How to make SSH tunnel with PuTTY terminal client

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Create-how to make ssh tunnel with Putty on microsoft windows Vista / 7 XP / 2000
Earlier I blogged how to create SSH tunnels on Linux. Another interesting thing is how to make SSH tunnels on Windows. This can be done with multiple SSH clients but probably quickest and most standard way is to do create SSH tunnel with Putty. So why would one want to make SSH tunnel to a Windows host? Lets say your remote server has a port filtered to the Internet but available to a local network to which you don't have direct access, the only way to access the port in question then is to create SSH tunnel between your computer and remote machine on some locally binded port (lets say you need to access port 80 on remote host and you will access it through localhost tunneled through 8080). Very common scenario where tunneling comes handy if you have a Tomcat server behind firewalled DMZ| / load balancer or Reverse Proxy. Usually on well secured networks direct access to Tomcat application server will be disabled to its listen port (lets say 11444). Another important great think of SSH tunnels is all information between Remote server and local PC are transferred in strong SSH crypted form so this adds extra security level to your communication.
Once "real life" case of SSH tunnel is whether you have to deploy an application which fails after deployment with no meaningful message but error is returned by Apache Reverse Proxy. To test directly tomcat best thing is to create SSH tunnel between remote host 11444 and local host through 11444 (or any other port of choice). Other useful case would be if you have to access directly via CLI interface an SQL server lets say MySQL (remote port 3306 filtered) and inaccessible with mysql cli or Oracle DB with Db listener on port 1521 (needed to accessed via sqlplus).

In that case Putty's Tunneling capabilities comes handy especially if you don't have a Linux box at hand.
To create new SSH tunnel in putty to MySQL port 3306 on localhost (3306) – be sure MySQL is not running on localhost 😉
Open Putty Navigate in left pane config bar to:

SSH -> Tunnels

Type in

Source Port

– port on which SSH tunnel will be binded on your Windows (localhost / in this example case 3306.

Then for

– IP address or host of remote host with number of port to which SSH tunnel will be opened.

N.B. ! in order to make tunneling possible you will need to have opened access to SSH port of remote (Destination) host

make ssh tunnel on Microsoft Windows putty to remote filtered mysql shot

make ssh tunnels on Microsoft windows putty to remote filtered mysql 2 screenshot

open ssh tunnel via WINDOWS port 22 on microsoft windows 7 screenshot

Once click Open you will be prompted for username on remote host in my case to my local router Once you login to remote host open command prompt and try to connect Windows Command prompt Start -> Run (cmd.exe) ;

C:\Users\\hipo> telnet localhost 3306

Connection should be succesful and you from there on assuming you have the MySQL cli version for windows installed you can use to login to remote SQL via SSH tunnel with;

C:\Users\\hipo> mysql -u root -h localhost -p

To later remove existing SSH Tunnel go again to SSH -> Tunnels press on SSH tunnel and choose Remove

Further you can craete multiple SSH tunnels for all services to remote host where access is needed. Important think to remember when creating multiple SSH connections is source port on localhost to remote machine should be unique