Service Discovery

Why do we need service discovery?

Client applications interact with the Fabric Gateway to execute chaincode on peers, submit transactions to orderers, and learn about the status of transactions. The peer gateway service must therefore know the relevant endorsement policies as well as which peers have the chaincode installed.

The discovery service is responsible for keeping this information synchronized across peers and then the Fabric Gateway interacts with service discovery in order to determine which peers are required to endorse a transaction, and which orderer nodes to send the transaction to.

How service discovery works in Fabric

The application is bootstrapped knowing about one or more Gateway peers which are trusted by the application developer/administrator to gather endorsements from other peers. A good candidate peer to be used by the client application is one that is in the same organization. Note that in order for peers to be known to the discovery service, they must have a peer.gossip.externalEndpoint defined. To see how to do this, check out our Service Discovery CLI documentation.

A service discovery client such as the Service Discovery CLI or another Gateway peer issues a configuration query to the discovery service to obtain information about peers in the channel. This information can be refreshed at any point by sending a subsequent query to the discovery service of a peer.

The discovery service runs on peers and uses the network metadata information maintained by the gossip communication layer to find out which peers are online. It also fetches information, such as any relevant endorsement policies, from the peer’s state database.

With service discovery, the peer Gateway acting on behalf of a client application simply sends a query to the discovery service asking which peers are needed given a channel and a chaincode ID. The discovery service will then compute a descriptor comprised of two objects:

  1. Layouts: a list of groups of peers and a corresponding amount of peers from each group which should be selected.
  2. Group to peer mapping: from the groups in the layouts to the peers of the channel. In practice, each group would most likely be peers that represent individual organizations, but because the service API is generic and ignorant of organizations this is just a “group”.

The following is an example of a descriptor from the evaluation of a policy of AND(Org1, Org2) where there are two peers in each of the organizations.

Layouts: [
     QuantitiesByGroup: {
       “Org1”: 1,
       “Org2”: 1,
EndorsersByGroups: {
  “Org1”: [peer0.org1, peer1.org1],
  “Org2”: [peer0.org2, peer1.org2]

In other words, the endorsement policy requires a signature from one peer in Org1 and one peer in Org2. And it provides the names of available peers in those orgs who can endorse (peer0 and peer1 in both Org1 and in Org2).

When coordinating a transaction, the peer Gateway selects an endorsement layout. In the example above, the endorsement policy is Org1 AND Org2. It then selects which endorsing peers to target from the layout using information such as which peers are currently available and their ledger heights.

Capabilities of the discovery service

The discovery service can respond to the following queries:

  • Configuration query: Returns the MSPConfig of all organizations in the channel along with the orderer endpoints of the channel.
  • Peer membership query: Returns the peers that have joined the channel.
  • Endorsement query: Returns an endorsement descriptor for given chaincode(s) in a channel.
  • Local peer membership query: Returns the local membership information of the peer that responds to the query. By default the client needs to be an administrator for the peer to respond to this query.

Special requirements

When the peer is running with TLS enabled the client must provide a TLS certificate when connecting to the peer. If the peer isn’t configured to verify client certificates (clientAuthRequired is false), this TLS certificate can be self-signed.