HTTP Routing

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This topic describes how the Gorouter, the main component in the Pivotal Application Service (PAS) routing tier, routes HTTP traffic within PAS.

For more information, see the Routing section of the PAS Components topic.

HTTP Headers

Header Size Limit

The Gorouter has a limit of 1 MB for HTTP Headers.

The specific language, framework, and configuration of the back end app container determine the effective header size limit. For example, the default header size for the Tomcat container is 8 kB.


The X-Forwarded-Proto header gives the scheme of the HTTP request from the client.

If an incoming request includes the X-Forwarded-Proto header, the Gorouter:

  • Appends it to the existing header
  • Sets the scheme to HTTP if the client made an insecure request, meaning a request on port 80
  • Sets the scheme to HTTPS if the client made a secure request, meaning a request on port 443

Developers can configure their apps to reject insecure requests by inspecting the X-Forwarded-Proto HTTP header on incoming traffic. The header may have multiple values represented as a comma-separated list, so developers must ensure the app rejects traffic that includes any X-Forwarded-Proto values that are not HTTPS.


If X-Forwarded-For is present, the Gorouter appends the load balancer’s IP address to it and forwards the list. If X-Forwarded-For is not present, then the Gorouter sets it to the IP address of the load balancer in the forwarded request (some load balancers masquerade the client IP). If a load balancer sends the client IP using the PROXY protocol, then the Gorouter uses the client IP address to set X-Forwarded-For.

If your load balancer terminates TLS on the client side of the Gorouter, it must append these headers to requests forwarded to the Gorouter. For more information, see Securing Traffic into PAS.

HTTP Headers for Zipkin Tracing

Zipkin is a tracing system that enables app developers to troubleshoot failures or latency issues. Zipkin provides the ability to trace requests and responses across distributed systems. For more information, see

When Zipkin tracing is enabled in PAS, the Gorouter examines the HTTP request headers and performs the following:

  • If the X-B3-TraceId and X-B3-SpanId HTTP headers are not present in the request, the Gorouter generates values for these and inserts the headers into the request forwarded to an app. These values are also found in the Gorouter access log message for the request: x_b3_traceid and x_b3_spanid.
  • If the X-B3-TraceId and X-B3-SpanId HTTP headers are present in the request, the Gorouter forwards them unmodified. In addition to these trace and span IDs, the Gorouter access log message for the request includes x_b3_parentspanid.

Developers can then add Zipkin trace IDs to their app logging in order to trace app requests and responses in PAS.

After adding Zipkin HTTP headers to app logs, developers can use cf logs myapp to correlate the trace and span IDs logged by the Gorouter with the trace ids logged by their app. To correlate trace IDs for a request through multiple apps, each app must forward appropriate values for the headers with requests to other apps.

For more information about Zipkin tracing, see Enabling Zipkin Tracing.

HTTP Headers for App Instance Routing

Developers who want to obtain debug data for a specific instance of an app can use the HTTP header X-CF-APP-INSTANCE to make a request to an app instance.

To make an HTTP request to a specific app instance:

  1. Obtain the GUID of your app:

    $ cf app YOUR-APP --guid

  2. List your app instances and retrieve the index number of the instance you want to debug:

    $ cf app YOUR-APP

  3. Make a request to the app route using the HTTP header X-CF-APP-INSTANCE set to the concatenated values of the app GUID and the instance index:


Forward Client Certificate to Apps

Apps that require mutual TLS (mTLS) need metadata from client certificates to authorize requests. PAS supports this use case without bypassing layer-7 load balancers and the Gorouter.

The HTTP header X-Forwarded-Client-Cert (XFCC) may be used to pass the originating client certificate along the data path to the application. Each component in the data path must trust that the back end component has not allowed the header to be tampered with.

If you configure the load balancer to terminate TLS and set the XFCC header from the received client certificate, you must also configure the load balancer to strip this header if it is present in client requests. This configuration is required to prevent spoofing of the client certificate.

The following sections describe supported deployment configurations.

Terminate TLS at Load Balancer

By default, the Gorouter forwards arbitrary headers that are not otherwise mentioned in the docs. This includes the XFCC header.

For apps to receive the XFCC header, configure your load balancer to set the XFCC header with the contents of the client certificate received in the TLS handshake.

To enable this mode:

  1. Navigate to the Ops Manager Installation Dashboard.

  2. Click the PAS tile.

  3. Select Networking.

  4. Under TLS termination point, select Infrastructure load balancer.

Terminate TLS at HAProxy

This option allows you to configure support for the XFCC header while leveraging HAProxy. When selected, HAProxy sets the XFCC header to the contents of the client certificate received in the TLS handshake.

This option requires you to configure the load balancer in front of HAProxy to pass through the TLS handshake to HAProxy through TCP.

To enable this mode:

  1. Navigate to the Ops Manager Installation Dashboard.

  2. Click the PAS tile.

  3. Select Networking.

  4. Under TLS termination point, select HAProxy.

HAProxy trusts the Diego intermediate certificate authority. This trust is enabled automatically and permits mutual authentication between apps running on Pivotal Platform.

Terminate TLS at the Gorouter

If the Gorouter is the first component to terminate TLS, such that it receives the certificate of the originating client in the mutual TLS handshake, you should select this option. When selected, the Gorouter sets the XFCC header to the contents of the client certificate received in the TLS handshake and strips the XFCC header when present in a request.

This option requires you to configure the load balancer in front of the Gorouter to pass through TLS handshake to the Gorouter through TCP.

To enable this mode:

  1. Navigate to the Ops Manager Installation Dashboard.

  2. Click the PAS tile.

  3. Select Networking.

  4. Under TLS termination point, select Gorouter.

The Gorouter trusts the Diego intermediate certificate authority. This trust is enabled automatically and permits mutual authentication between apps running on Pivotal Platform.

Client-Side TLS

Depending on your needs, you can configure your deployment to terminate TLS at the Gorouter, at the Gorouter and the load balancer, or at the load balancer only. For more information, see Securing Traffic into PAS.

TLS to Apps and Other Back End Services

The Gorouter supports TLS and mutual authentication to back end destinations, including app instances, platform services, and any other routable endpoints.

This has the following benefits:

  • Improved availability for apps by keeping routes in the Gorouter’s routing table when TTL expires
  • Increased guarantees against misrouting by validating the identity of back ends before forwarding requests
  • Increased security by encrypting data in flight from the Gorouter to back ends

Preventing Misrouting

As PAS manages and balances apps, the internal IP address and ports for app instances change. To keep the Gorouter’s routing tables current, a Route Emitter on each Diego cell sends periodic messages for each app instance running on that cell to all Gorouters through NATS. Each message includes the location and a unique identifier for the app instance to verify its identity when using TLS to communicate with the instance.

Network partitions or NATS failures can cause the Gorouter’s routing table to fall out of sync, as PAS continues to re-create containers across hosts to keep apps running. This can lead to routing of requests to incorrect destinations.

Before forwarding traffic to an app instance, the Gorouter initiates a TLS handshake with an Envoy proxy running in each app container. In the TLS handshake, the Envoy proxy presents a certificate generated by Diego for each container which uniquely identifies the container using the same app instance identifier sent by the Route-Emitter, configured in the certificate as a domain Subject Alternative Name (SAN). For more information, see

If the Gorouter confirms that the app instance identifier in the certificate matches the one received in the route registration message, the Gorouter forwards the HTTP request over the TLS session, and the Envoy proxy then forwards it to the app process. If the instance identifiers do not match, the Gorouter removes the app instance from its routing table and transparently retries another instance of the app.

Currently, only Linux cells support the Gorouter validating app instance identities using TLS by default. With Windows cells, the Gorouter connects to backends without TLS, forwarding requests to Windows apps over plain text and pruning based on route TTL.

Configure Validation of App Instance Identity with TLS

Verifying app identity using TLS improves resiliency and consistency for app routes.

Note: This feature does not work if the Disable SSL certificate verification for this environment checkbox is selected in the Networking pane of the PAS tile.

The App Containers pane of the PAS tile includes these options under Gorouter app identity verification:

  • The Gorouter uses TLS to verify app identity: Enables the Gorouter to verify app identity using TLS. This is the default option.

  • The Gorouter and apps use mutual TLS to verify each other’s identity: Enables the Gorouter and your apps to verify each other’s identity using TLS.

Breaking Change: If you have mutual TLS app identity verification enabled, app containers accept incoming communication only from the Gorouter. This disables TCP routing.

To enable TLS to backends running on Windows cells, the same options can be configured under (Beta) Enable TLS Connections From Router To Applications on the Advanced Features tab of the Windows tile.

Router Balancing Algorithm

The Gorouter can be configured to use different load balancing algorithms for routing incoming requests to app instances. The Gorouter maintains a dynamically updated list of app instances for each route. Depending on which algorithm is selected, it forwards to one of the app instances.

To configure the behavior, you can change the value of router.balancing_algorithm manifest property. The available options are:

By default, the Gorouter uses the round-robin algorithm.

Round-Robin Load Balancing

Incoming requests for a given route are forwarded to all app instances one after another, looping back to the first one after they have each received a request. This algorithm is suitable for most use cases and evenly distributes the load between app instances.

Least-Connection Load Balancing

Each request for a given route is forwarded to the app instance with the least number of open connections. This algorithm can be more suitable for some cases. For example, if app instances have long-lived connections and are scaled up, then new instances receive fewer connections, causing a disproportionate load. In this case, choosing a least-connection algorithm sends new connections to new instances to equalize the load.


WebSockets is a protocol providing bi-directional communication over a single, long-lived TCP connection, commonly implemented by web clients and servers. WebSockets are initiated through HTTP as an upgrade request. The Gorouter supports this upgrade handshake, and holds the TCP connection open with the selected app instance. To support WebSockets, the operator must configure the load balancer correctly. Depending on the configuration, clients may have to use a different port for WebSocket connections, such as port 4443, or a different domain name. For more information, see Supporting WebSockets.

Session Affinity

The Gorouter supports session affinity, or sticky sessions, for incoming HTTP requests to compatible apps.

With sticky sessions, when multiple instances of an app are running on Cloud Foundry, requests from a particular client always reach the same app instance. This allows apps to store session data specific to a user session.

  • To support sticky sessions, configure your app to return a JSESSIONID cookie in responses. The app generates a JSESSIONID as a long hash in the following format:

If an app returns a sticky session cookie to a client request, the CF routing tier generates a unique VCAP_ID for the app instance based on its GUID with expiry same as that of JSESSIONID in the following format:


  • On subsequent requests, the client must provide both the JSESSIONID and VCAP_ID cookies.

The CF routing tier uses the VCAP_ID cookie to forward client requests to the same app instance every time. The JSESSIONID cookie is forwarded to the app instance to enable session continuity. If the app instance identified by the VCAP_ID crashes, the Gorouter attempts to route the request to a different instance of the app. If the Gorouter finds a healthy instance of the app, it initiates a new sticky session.

Note: Cloud Foundry does not persist or replicate HTTP session data across app instances. If an app instance crashes or is stopped, session data for that instance is lost. If you require session data to persist across crashed or stopped instances, or to be shared by all instances of an app, store session data in a CF marketplace service that offers data persistence.

For more information, see Session Affinity in GitHub.

For information, see Session Affinity in GitHub.

Keep-Alive Connections

From Front End Clients

The Gorouter supports keep-alive connections from clients and does not close the TCP connection with clients immediately after returning an HTTP response. Clients are responsible for closing these connections.

To Back End Servers

If keep-alive connections are disabled, the Gorouter closes the TCP connection with an app instance or system component after receiving an HTTP response.

If keep-alive connections are enabled, the Gorouter maintains established TCP connections to back ends. The Gorouter supports up to 100 idle connections to each back end:

  • If an idle connection exists for a given back end, the Gorouter reuses it to route subsequent requests.
  • If no idle connection exists for this back end, the Gorouter creates a new connection.

Transparent Retries

If the Gorouter cannot establish a TCP connection with a selected app instance, the Gorouter considers the instance ineligible for requests for 30 seconds and transparently attempts to connect to another app instance. Once the Gorouter has established a TCP connection with an app instance, the Gorouter forwards the HTTP request.

When you deploy an app that requires Diego Cells to restart or recreate, the app may not respond to a Gorouter request before the keep-alive connection breaks. The following table describes how the Gorouter behaves if it cannot establish a TCP connection to an app:

If the Gorouter… and the back end… then the Gorouter…
cannot establish a TCP connection to a back end N/A retries another back end, no more than 3 times
establishes a TCP connection to a back end and forwards the request does not respond waits 15 minutes for a response, and if it errors, does not retry another back end
establishes a TCP connection to a back end and forwards the request returns a TCP connection error returns an error to the client, marks backend ineligible, and does not retry another back end

In all cases, if the app still does not respond to the request, the Gorouter returns a 502 error. For more information, see Troubleshooting Router Error Responses.