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Querying Stripe data with Splitgraph
Sep 23, 2022· By Peter Neumark

Accessing private data sources with network tunnels

Use Splitgraph to query and load data from private data sources with built-in support for network tunnels.

What you will build in this guide

time required: 4 minutes

Splitgraph has extensive support for connecting external data sources as long as they can be accessed by Splitgraph Cloud.

What about databases behind firewalls and NAT boxes? There's a simpler option than exporting and uploading CSV files!

In this guide we'll show you how to create a network tunnel between Splitgraph Cloud and a host inside your private network with access to your database. Once the tunnel is set up, you can query or load data with Splitgraph the same way as with a publicly accessible database.

How it works

Similar to how SSH tunnels and services like ngrok work, the sgr command line tool provides a handy tunnel feature which works with over a dozen databases.

Each tunnel connects a local host-port pair, such as 192.168.0.100:5432 or localhost:3306 with a private IP6 address only accessible to Splitgraph, e.g. fd71:5f64:7628:51cb:7884:f261:0ab5:7b52:31337.

As long as the tunnel is active, Splitgraph can query the private database just like it would any globally-accessible data source. Since only Splitgraph can access the private tunnel address, script kiddies trying to connect to random IP addresses will never stumble upon your private database!

Prerequisites

If the sgr commandline tool isn't installed yet, you can follow the installation instructions in the Stripe jumpstart guide.

This guide assumes there's a private data source which must be accessed from Splitgraph Cloud. If you don't have an existing private database, running PostgreSQL locally is a simple and free solution.

Tunnel Scenario 1: One-time import

Establishing the tunnel

Suppose your private PostgreSQL database listening on localhost:5432 has some data you'd like to import into Splitgraph. If sgr is installed, then establishing a tunnel is as simple as running sgr cloud tunnel localhost:5432:

> sgr cloud tunnel localhost:5432
To connect to localhost:5432 from Splitgraph, use the following connection parameters:
Host: fd71:d815:8650:4303:5999:56fd:92d1:2358
Port: 31337
launching rathole client
Sep 23 17:04:20.469  INFO config_watcher{path="/Users/neumark/.splitgraph/rathole-client.toml"}: rathole::config_watcher: Start watching the config
Sep 23 17:04:20.478  INFO handle{service=fd71:d815:8650:4303:5999:56fd:92d1:2358}: rathole::client: Starting 2cc90fa04f273b1ba8bf09e6e0749114369c5661b6a8f2f5b2e37d2836ed4f20
Sep 23 17:04:20.826  INFO handle{service=fd71:d815:8650:4303:5999:56fd:92d1:2358}:run: rathole::client: Control channel established

As shown above, sgr prints the private IP6 address and port of the tunnel.

Creating the repository

Start the PostgreSQL connection wizard by clicking "Connect External Data" on the Dashboard page, then fill out the form using the host and port values provided by sgr:

Fill out the new repository form

After clicking the "Continue" button at the bottom of the screen, you should see the second screen with a preview of your data:

Load data or limit the repository to live queries

First, select a name for your new repository. Second, click the "Create repository and load data immediately" button.

This will create a new data image populated with the contents of your private database. The tunnel is no longer needed, it's safe to terminate the sgr cloud tunnel process.

Instead of choosing "Create repository and load data immediately" in the second step of the wizard, clicking the chevron displays a menu with another option: "Create repository without loading data". Choose this alternative to create a temporary repository first, then import the contents of the private database after potentially transforming the data using the writable DDN.

If the repository was created without loading data, it takes only a single click on the "Sync Now" button on the repository page to import the contents of the database later.

Sync Now on the repository page copies imports the database contents.

Tunnel Scenario 2: Persistent tunneled repository

Temporary tunnels are great for importing data into splitgraph either directly or using a CREATE TABLE ... AS (SELECT ...) query.

For private databases with frequently changing data, however, it makes most sense to live query from Splitgraph through the tunnel.

Let's start with a splitgraph.yml repository definition:

repositories:
  - external:
      credential_id: d3946c85-396e-428c-99c0-d165e4952755
      params:
        dbname: my_db
        fetch_size: 10000
        host: 127.0.0.1 # use local host address
        port: 5432 # and port
        remote_schema: public
        use_remote_estimate: false
      plugin: postgres_fdw
      schedule: null
      tunnel: true # be sure to add tunnel: true
      tables:
        tbl1:
          options:
            schema_name: public
            table_name: tbl1
          schema:
            - name: id
              type: integer
            - name: label
              type: character varying
    metadata:
      description: null
      extra_metadata: null
      license: null
      readme:
        text: null
      sources: null
      topics: []
    namespace: neumarktest
    repository: tunneled_repository

Note the tunnel: true field of the repositories.external object! To create the repository described in the YAML file, run:

sgr cloud load -f splitgraph.yml neumarktest/tunneled_repository

Once the repository has been created, the tunnel can be started with:

sgr cloud tunnel -f splitgraph.yml neumarktest/tunneled_repository localhost:5432

The advantage of this approach is that the tunnel can be re-established, even from a different host with access to the private database, as long as sgr is signed in as a user with administrative rights on the repository.

The disadvantage is that since there is no tunnel for Splitgraph to connect to the private database at repository creation time, the table schema has to be explicitly listed in splitgraph.yml. Fortunately there's a workaround to get the best of both worlds!

Tunnel Scenario 3: Converting a temporary tunneled repository to persistent

Using the external data wizard (as in Scenario 1) is more convenient than writing the splitgraph.yml by hand, but the resulting repository's tunnel can't be restarted later. Fortunately, we can convert the a repository created with the wizard to one with a persistent tunnel using the following steps:

  1. Create the tunneled external repository just like in Scenario 1. Once the repository has been created, it is safe to terminate the temporary tunnel.

  2. Generate a splitgraph.yml file with sgr cloud dump,

    sgr cloud dump -f splitgraph.yml neumarktest/tunneled_repository
    
  3. Edit the generated splitgraph.yml and save it as splitgraph_updated.yml, adding tunnel: true.

    If the yq utility is installed, the following command creates splitgraph_updated.yml containing the necessary changes:

    cat splitgraph.yml | yq '.repositories[0].external += {"tunnel":true}' > splitgraph_updated.yml
    
  4. Apply the newly created splitgraph_updated.yml:

    sgr cloud load -f splitgraph_updated.yml neumarktest/tunneled_repository
    

    At this point the repository has been converted and the tunnel can be restarted with:

    sgr cloud tunnel -f splitgraph_updated.yml neumarktest/tunneled_repository localhost:5432
    

Get back to us!

Hope you find the tunnel feature useful! Did you run into any issues? If you can't live without it or can't get it to work, either way let us know!