Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed

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Enabling Change Data Capture CDC with Solace and StreamSets –

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Change Data Capture (CDC) is quite the buzz these days. I have been in numerous client meetings where CDC has come up lately, way more than before. So what is CDC and why might you be interested in it?

CDC is closely linked to Event-Driven Architecture (EDA) and with recent rise in popularity of EDA, CDC has become more common as well. As businesses realize the importance of event-enabling their architecture to meet customer demand and improve overall customer experience, they have embraced EDA with open arms. It is in their interest to ensure data is captured, analyzed, and acted upon in real-time. Gone are the days of batched processing where valuable data would sit for hours or days and lose its value over time. In this brave new world, data is analyzed in real-time instead of batches while it is most valuable. A flight passenger has no use for an alert notifying them of a flight delay 5 hours later.

Coming back to CDC: It is a design pattern used to identify changes in data. Databases are everywhere and we are all used to storing plenty of data in databases where it rests. We frequently query this data as well as watch it change over time. Records get inserted, deleted and updated. And while the new information provides very valuable information, there is additional value in tracking changes to these database objects in real-time.

Change Data Capture (CDC) is a design pattern used to identify changes in data so that actions can be taken on those changes in real-time.

Imagine a Customers table which tracks all of the active customers who are currently using a software company’s products. As more and more customers purchase more products over time, new rows are inserted and this table grows. Occasionally, customer information needs to be updated, such as their contact information, which leads to rows being updated in the Customers table.

While this is all very valuable information, it is still static and shows you a point-in-time view of the. You can query the table to get the contact information for a customer but it doesn’t tell you when and how this information has changed over time. This is where CDC comes in. It’s goal is to event-enable databases by turning all databases changes into events. Bingo!

With events, we can respond to them in real-time and build downstream pipeline that can react to these events. For example, as soon as a new customer is added, we would like to send a thank-you email to them. This can be done via CDC. A new row is inserted for the new customer which is turned into an eventpublished to an event broker, subscribed to by n number of downstream processes, one of which is responsible for sending a thank-you email.

Let’s visualize this with an architecture diagram!

Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 8

In this diagram, we have different databases where our records might be stored. We can event-enable these databases using CDC connectors provided by StreamSets. StreamSets is an enterprise data integration platform with multiple CDC connectors to databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. StreamSets will generate events and publish them to Solace’s PubSub+ broker.

PubSub+ is an enterprise grade event broker widely deployed by companies across industries to event-enable their architecture. It supports open APIs and multiple protocols which makes it extremely easy to integrate it with other technolgies natively (without any additional proxies). Once the event is published to PubSub+ broker, it can be consumed by multiple consumers independently. You can have a microservice using Java API to process the event, enrich it and then write it to Salesforce. Events can also be pushed out to downstream services such as AWS’s API Gateway via REST webhooks (all natively built into Solace PubSub+) and then consumed by additional AWS services such as Lambda. Finally, you can leverage Apache Spark for analytics as well.

Demo

Now that we know how the different components work, let’s test it out! We will show how you can even-enable your Microsoft SQL Server leveraging Streamsets’ CDC connector and Solace PubSub+ event broker.

Microsoft SQL Server

I setup a dev instance of MS SQL Server on an AWS EC2 instance via docker. I followed instructions from here. Basically, setup Docker and run the following commands:

docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2019-latest

docker run -d --name example_sql_server -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' -e 'SA_PASSWORD=Strong.Pwd-123' -e MSSQL_AGENT_ENABLED=True -p 1433:1433 mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2019-latest

Once you have the docker container running, you will need to install MS SQL CLI. There are different ones available for the OS you are using. For an EC2 instance, you can install the CLI using this command:

yum install mssql-tools unixODBC-devel

Once it’s installed, you can login:

sqlcmd -U sa -P Strong.Pwd-123 -H <hostname>

Next, we will create a database called demo and a table called Persons.

1> create database demo;
2> go
1> CREATE TABLE Persons (
2>.    PersonID int,
3>     LastName varchar(255),
4>     FirstName varchar(255),
5>     Address varchar(255),
6>     City varchar(255)
7> );

Now that the db and table have been created, we need to enable them for CDC so that MS SQL Server knows we want changes to be tracked. You have to enable CDC at database level and then at table level.

# CDC for DB

USE demo
GO
EXEC sys.sp_cdc_enable_db
GO

# CDC for Persons table
USE demo
GO  
EXEC sys.sp_cdc_enable_table @source_schema = N'dbo',  
@source_name   = N'Peresons',  
@role_name     = NULL,  
@filegroup_name = NULL,  
@supports_net_changes = 0 
GO

That’s it for MS SQL for now. Next, we move on to StreamSets.

StreamSets

There are different ways to deploy StreamSets. For this demo, I am using their free-tier SaaS offering which you can sign up for here. There is a lot of tutorials available to learn how you can build a pipeline using different input sources and destinations. You can even use components to transform payloads. For our demo, though, we will keep it simple and publish the event as it is to Solace PubSub+.

Click on Set Up >> Deployments and create a new Deployment with the following additional libraries: JMSand SQL Server 2019 Big Data Cluster Enterprise Library. Follow rest of the instructions to get to the docker installation instructions. For example:

docker run -d -e STREAMSETS_DEPLOYMENT_SCH_URL=https://na01.hub.streamsets.com -e STREAMSETS_DEPLOYMENT_ID=b62044de-16b8-42e5-9d68-c2ed632e86b0:7bc55376-2098-11ec-a5fe-ffa35ee1d0b0 -e STREAMSETS_DEPLOYMENT_TOKEN=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJub25lIn0.eyJzIjoiYTJjYmI4YjAzMTJhNTFmZWIxNGEzMTNjMzhkOWE2ZDg5YzljZDk0MzYzOTM5ZGFkZjAzNjFiYmVmNDQ3MDFlMjFlMDU4MjJjZGEwNjI0ZWQ0MTg2Y2M5ODA1YjhhN2M0NjVmOTEzOWIyMDBmMmJiMmQ2MGEwN2FlNmIwMmM2YzciLCJ2IjoxLCJpc3MiOiJuYTAxIiwianRpIjoiN2Q4ZmJiYTEtYWUyYS00NDhlLWIxNTYtZWU3ZWIwZmI4MTA2IiwibyI6IjdiYzU1Mzc2LTIwOTgtMTFlYy1hNWZlLWZmYTM1ZWUxZDBiMCJ9. streamsets/datacollector:4.1.0

Run the docker command on your local machine.

Once you have it running, go back to StreamSets and click on Set Up >> Engines. You will see an engine running here:

image 1
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 9

Click on that engine and click on External Resources on the following page. This is where you can upload additional libraries/resources for your data collector. We will need to upload Solace’s JMS library here to be able to use StreamSet’s JMS Producer.

Download Solace’s JMS API from their downloads page, unzip it and navigate to lib director. You will find the necessary jars there.

Go back to StreamSets, click on External Libraries and click on + sign.

image 2
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 10

Select JMS (streamsets-datacollector-jms-lib) from the dropdown menu next to Stage Library:.

Next, upload all the jars that you just downloaded.

image 3
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 11

You will be asked to restart the engine/collector for changes to take effect.

Now it’s time to build a pipeline. Go to Build and click on Pipelines. Create a new pipeline. You can then add components to it. Here is what your pipeline needs to look like:

image 4
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 12

It has two components: SQL Server CDC Client and JMS Producer.

Configure the SQL Server CDC Client with the following properties (keep others as default):

JDBC:
Connection: None
JDBC Connection String: jdbc:sqlserver://<host>:<port>;database=demo
Fetch Size: 255
Max Batch Size (Records): 255

CDC:
Capture Instance Name: %

Credentials:
Username: sa
Password: Strong.Pwd-123

Next, configure the JMS Producer:

JMS:
Connection: None
JMS Initial Context Factory: com.solacesystems.jndi.SolJNDIInitialContextFactory
JNDI Connection Factory: /jms/cf/default
JMS Provider URL: tcp://<pubsub_broker_host>:55555
JMS Destination Name: cdc/demo/sqlserver
JMS Destination Type: Topic

Additional JMS property:
Solace_VPN_NAME: <pubsub_vpn_name>

Credentials:
Username: <pubsub_username>
Password: <pubsub_password>

Data Format:
Data Format: JSON
JSON Content: Multiple JSON Objects

Now that our pipeline is ready, it is time to setup our Solace PubSub+ broker.

Solace PubSub+ broker

Just like StreamSets, there are numerous ways to deploy PubSub+ event broker. Pick the one that’s the easiest for you. I prefer to spin up a free instance using my trial account on Solace Cloud. You can sign up for an account here.

Once you have a service running, go to the Try Me! tab and connect to the Subscriber app. Here we will subscribe to the topic that our JMS Producer was configured to publish events to in the previous step: cdc/demo/sqlserver.

PubSub+ supports dynamic hierarchical topics which allow subscribers to filter events using wildcards. For example, I might have multiple CDC sources (Oracle, MS SQL etc) publishing to different topics such as cdc/demo/<db_name>. I might have one downstream subscriber subscribing to cdc/*/sqlserver and another subscribing to cdc/*/oracle. You can learn more about Solace topics here.

image 8
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 13

Demo Time!

Phew, now that we have everything setup, it’s Demo time! Let’s run our StreamSets pipeline by clicking on Test Run on the top-right side and then clicking on Start Pipeline.

Now, go back to your SQL Server instance and run a SQL statement to insert a row.

Insert into Persons Values ('007', 'Bond', 'James', 'Main St', 'London')

(Side note: I cannot wait to watch the latest Bond movie: No Time To Die!)

Soon after running that statement, you will see some data in the Realtime Summary section of StreamSets.

image 6
Enabling Change Data Capture (CDC) with Solace and StreamSets – a bit deployed 14

It shows that there was 1 Input and 1 Output which means our change (inserting row) was picked up by our pipeline! Awesome!

Now, let’s go to our PubSub+ broker and see if our Subscriber picked up a message. And, of course, it did!

2021-09-29 18:03:20:847 [Topic cdc/demo/sqlserver]
Delivery Mode: Direct
Sender Timestamp: 2021-09-29 18:03:20:840
Priority: 4
Destination: [Topic cdc/demo/sqlserver]
AppMessageID: ID:172.17.0.3936317c32cd41500:7
SendTimestamp: 1632953000840 (Wed Sep 29 2021 18:03:20 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time))

Class Of Service:     COS1
DeliveryMode:         DIRECT
Message Id:           2

XML:                                    len=88
  7b 22 50 65 72 73 6f 6e    49 44 22 3a 37 2c 22 4c    "PersonID":7,"L
  61 73 74 4e 61 6d 65 22    3a 22 42 6f 6e 64 22 2c    astName":"Bond",
  22 46 69 72 73 74 4e 61    6d 65 22 3a 22 4a 61 6d    "FirstName":"Jam
  65 73 22 2c 22 41 64 64    72 65 73 73 22 3a 22 4d    es","Address":"M
  61 69 6e 20 53 74 22 2c    22 43 69 74 79 22 3a 22    ain.St","City":"
  4c 6f 6e 64 6f 6e 22 7d                               London"

As you can see in the payload, it picked up the new row that was inserted into the database. You can use this event as a trigger for numerous downstream processes. One such process can be one that sends a Welcome email to new customers. I am sure James Bond would love that! 🙂

That’s it for this post. As we saw, you can leverage StreamSets and Solace PubSub+ together to build a CDC pipeline to event-enable your databases leverage event-driven architecture!

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