Implementing Multitenancy Using Namespaces

The Namespaces API allows you to easily enable multitenancy in your application, simply by selecting a namespace string for each tenant in web.xml using the NamespaceManager package.

  1. Setting the current namespace
  2. Avoiding data leaks
  3. Deploying namespaces
    1. Creating namespaces on a per user basis
    2. Using namespaces with the Datastore
    3. Using namespaces with the Memcache
    4. Using namespaces with the Task Queue
    5. Using namespaces with the Blobstore
    6. Setting namespaces for Datastore Queries
    7. Using namespaces with the Bulkloader
    8. Using namespaces with Search

Setting the current namespace

You can get, set, and validate namespaces using NamespaceManager. The namespace manager allows you to set a current namespace for namespace-enabled APIs. You set a current namespace up-front using web.xml, and the datastore and memcache automatically use that namespace.

Most App Engine developers will use their Google Apps domain as the current namespace. Google Apps lets you deploy your app to any domain that you own, so you can easily use this mechanism to configure different namespaces for different domains. Then, you can use those separate namespaces to segregate data across the domains. For more information about setting multiple domains in the Google Apps dashboard, see Deploying Your Application on Your Google Apps URL.

The following code sample shows you how to set the current namespace to the Google Apps domain that was used to map the URL. Notably, this string will be the same for all URLs mapped via the same Google Apps domain.

You can set namespaces in Java using the servlet Filter interface before invoking servlet methods. The following simple example demonstrates how to use your Google Apps domain as the current namespace:

The namespace filter must be configured in the web.xml file. Note that, if there are multiple filter entries, the first namespace to be set is the one that will be used.

The following code sample demonstrates how to configure the namespace filter in web.xml:

You can also set a new namespace for a temporary operation, resetting the original namespace once the operation is complete, using the try/finally pattern shown below:

If you do not specify a value for namespace, the namespace is set to an empty string. The namespace string is arbitrary, but also limited to a maximum of 100 alphanumeric characters, periods, underscores, and hyphens. More explicitly, namespace strings must match the regular expression [0-9A-Za-z._-]{0,100}.

By convention, all namespaces starting with "_" (underscore) are reserved for system use. This system namespace rule is not enforced, but you could easily encounter undefined negative consequences if you do not follow it.

Avoiding data leaks

One of the risks commonly associated with multitenant apps is the danger that data will leak across namespaces. Unintended data leaks can arise from many sources, including:

  • Using namespaces with App Engine APIs that do not yet support namespaces. For example, Blobstore does not support namespaces. If you use Namespaces with Blobstore, you need to avoid using Blobstore queries for end user requests, or Blobstore keys from untrusted sources.
  • Using an external storage medium (instead of memcache and datastore), via URL Fetch or some other mechanism, without providing a compartmentalization scheme for namespaces.
  • Setting a namespace based on a user's email domain. In most cases, you don't want all email addresses of a domain to access a namespace. Using the email domain also prevents your application from using a namespace until the user is logged in.

Deploying namespaces

The following sections describe how to deploy namespaces with other App Engine tools and APIs.

Creating namespaces on a per user basis

Some applications need to create namespaces on a per-user basis. If you want to compartmentalize data at the user level for logged-in users, consider using User.getUserId(), which returns a unique, permanent ID for the user. The following code sample demonstrates how to use the Users API for this purpose:

Typically, apps that create namespaces on a per-user basis also provide specific landing pages to different users. In these cases, the application needs to provide a URL scheme dictating which landing page to display to a user.

Using namespaces with the Datastore

By default, the datastore uses the current namespace setting in the namespace manager for datastore requests. The API applies this current namespace to Key or Query objects when they are created. Therefore, you need to be careful if an application stores Key or Query objects in serialized forms, since the namespace is preserved in those serializations.

If you are using deserialized Key and Query objects, make sure that they behave as intended. Most simple applications that use datastore (put/query/get) without using other storage mechanisms will work as expected by setting the current namespace before calling any datastore API.

Query and Key objects demonstrate the following, unique behaviors with regard to namespaces:

  • Query and Key objects inherit the current namespace when constructed, unless you set an explicit namespace.
  • When an application creates a new Key from an ancestor, the new Key inherits the namespace of the ancestor.
  • There is no Java API to explicitly set the namespace of a Key or Query.
The following code example shows the SomeRequest request handler for incrementing the count for the current namespace and the arbitrarily named -global- namespace in a Counter datastore entity.

Using namespaces with the Memcache

By default, memcache uses the current namespace from the namespace manager for memcache requests. In most cases, you do not need to explicitly set a namespace in the memcache, and doing so could introduce unexpected bugs.

However, there are some unique instances where it is appropriate to explicitly set a namespace in the memcache. For example, your application might have common data shared across all namespaces (such as a table containing country codes).

The following code snippet demonstrates how to explicitly set the namespace in the memcache:

By default, the Java API to memcache queries the namespace manager for the current namespace from MemcacheService. You can also explicitly state a namespace when you construct the memcache using getMemcacheService(Namespace). For most applications, you don't need to explicitly specify a namespace.

The following code sample demonstrates how to create a memcache that uses the current namespace in the namespace manager.

This code sample explicitly specifies a namespace when creating a memcache service:

Using namespaces with the Task Queue

By default, push queues use the current namespace as set in the namespace manager at the time the task was created. In most cases, you do not need to explicitly set a namespace in the task queue, and doing so could introduce unexpected bugs.

Task names are shared across all namespaces. You cannot create two tasks of the same name, even if they use different namespaces. If you wish to use the same task name for many namespaces, you can simply append each namespace to the task name.

When a new task calls the task queue add() method, the task queue copies the current namespace and (if applicable) the Google Apps domain from the namespace manager. When the task is executed, the current namespace and Google Apps namespace are restored.

If the current namespace is not set in the originating request (in other words, if get() returns null), then the task queue sets the namespace to "" in the executed tasks.

There are some unique instances where it is appropriate to explicitly set a namespace for a task that works across all namespaces. For example, you might create a task that aggregates usage statistics across all namespaces. You could then explicitly set the namespace of the task. The following code sample demonstrates how to explicitly set namespaces with the task queue.

First, create a task queue handler that increments the count in a Counter datastore entity:

Then, create tasks with a servlet:

Using namespaces with the Blobstore

The Blobstore is not segmented by namespace. To preserve a namespace in Blobstore, you need to access Blobstore via a storage medium that is aware of the namespace (currently only memcache, datastore, and task queue). For example, if a blob's Key is stored in a datastore entity, you can access it with a datastore Key or Query that is aware of the namespace.

If the application is accessing Blobstore via keys stored in namespace-aware storage, the Blobstore itself does not need to be segmented by namespace. Applications must avoid blob leaks between namespaces by:

  • Not using for end-user requests. You can use BlobInfo queries for administrative requests (such as generating reports about all the applications blobs), but using it for end-user requests may result in data leaks because all BlobInfo records are not compartmentalized by namespace.
  • Not using Blobstore keys from untrusted sources.

Setting namespaces for Datastore Queries

In the Google Cloud Platform Console, you can set the namespace for Datastore queries.

If you don't want to use the default, select the namespace you want to use from the drop-down.

Using namespaces with the Bulk Loader

The bulk loader supports a --namespace=NAMESPACE flag that allows you to specify the namespace to use. Each namespace is handled separately and, if you want to access all namespaces, you will need to iterate through them.

A new instance of Index inherits the namespace of the SearchService used to create it. Once you've created a reference to an index, its namespace cannot be changed. There are two ways to set the namespace for a SearchService before using it to create an index:

  • By default, a new SearchService takes the current namespace. You can set the current namespace before creating the service:
  • You can specify a namespace in the SearchServiceConfig when creating a service:

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