Service Config

How the service config can be used by service owners to control client behavior.

Service Config

How the service config can be used by service owners to control client behavior.


The service config specifies how gRPC clients should behave when interacting with a gRPC server. Service owners can provide a service config with expected behavior of all service clients. The settings in a service config always apply to a specific target string (e.g. “”), not globally.

Behavior controlled by the Service Config

The settings in the service config affect client side load balancing, call behavior and health checking.

This page outlines the options in the service config, but the full service config data structure is documented with a protobuf definition.

Load Balancing

A service can be composed of multiple servers and the load balancing configuration specifies how calls from clients should be distributed among those servers. By default the pick_first load balancing policy is utilized, but another policy can be specified in the service config. E.g. specifying the round_robin policy will make the clients rotate through the servers instead of repeatedly using the first server.

Call Behavior

RPCs can be configured in many ways:

  • With wait-for-ready enabled, if a client cannot connect to a backend, the RPC will be delayed instead of immediately failing.
  • A call timeout can be provided, indicating the maximum time the client should wait before giving up on the RPC.
  • One of:
    • Retry policy (max attempts, backoff settings, retryable status codes)
    • Hedging policy (max attempts, delay, non-fatal status codes)

Health Checking

A client can be configured to perform health checking by providing a health checking name. The client will then use the standard gRPC health checking service.

Acquiring a Service Config

A service config can be provided to a client either via name resolution or programatically by the client application.

Name Resolution

The gRPC name resolution mechanism allows for pluggable name resolver implementations. These implementations return the addresses associated with a name as well as an associated service config. This is the mechanism that service owners can use to distribute their service config out to a fleet of gRPC clients.

  • The xDS name resolver converts the xDS configuration it receives from the control plane to a corresponding service config.
  • The standard DNS name resolver in the Go implementation supports service configs stored as TXT records on the name server.


The gRPC client API provides a way to specify a service config in JSON format. This is used to provide a default service config that will be used in situations where the name resolver does not provide a service config. It can also be useful in some testing situations.

Example Service Config

The below example does the following:

  • Enables the round_robin load balancing policy.
  • Sets a default call timeout of 1s that applies to all methods in all services.
  • Overides that timeout to be 2s for the bar method in the foo service as well as all the methods in the baz service.
  "loadBalancingConfig": [ { "round_robin": {} } ],
  "methodConfig": [
      "name": [{}],
      "timeout": "1s"
      "name": [
        { "service": "foo", "method": "bar" },
        { "service": "baz" }
      "timeout": "2s"