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Sticky headers and multiplexing (was: Sticky header draft -- as an attachment)

From: Paul Leach <paulle@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 5 Aug 1996 15:11:35 -0700
Message-Id: <c=US%a=_%p=msft%l=RED-77-MSG-960805221135Z-34246@tide21.microsoft.com>
To: 'Jeffrey Mogul' <mogul@pa.dec.com>
Cc: 'http-wg' <http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com>

>From: 	Jeffrey Mogul[SMTP:mogul@pa.dec.com]
>Subject: 	Re: Sticky header draft -- as an attachment 
>    2.2 Contexts
>    Proxies can operate just like user-agents if they want. However, they
>    typically act on behalf of many clients, multiplexing a single
>    connection to a server across messages from many clients. Such
>    multiplexing will likely destroy the correlation between consecutive
>    messages that makes sticky headers an effective compression technique.
>It might be a good idea for you to provide a means for negotiating
>multiple contexts over a single proxy-server connection, but I am
>not sure it's wise to implicitly bless the multiplexing of request
>streams from several clients.  This can lead to something akin to
>the "head of line blocking" problem seen in network switches:
>    Head of line blocking occurs when a packet at the head of an input
>    queue blocks, thereby preventing a packet behind it from using an
>    available output port. The problem is common to networks which
>    employ input FIFOs which prevent packets from passing one another.
>    The solution to head of line blocking is to use random access
>    buffers which permit packets to be forwarded out of order.
>    quoted from "High Performance Communication for Distributed Systems"
>    by William Stasior,
>    http://www.tns.lcs.mit.edu/~wstasior/distrib_sys_comm/distrib_sys_comm.ht
>Consider the case where proxy P is combining request streams from
>client C1 and client C2 over the same TCP connection to server S.
>Since we don't allow reordering of requests (i.e., we use "input FIFOs"
>at the server side), if C2 makes a request that takes a long time to
>answer, C1 may have to wait even though there is no intrinsic reason
>for this.  The situation is especially bad if S is actually proxy
>as well, and C1 and C2 are really making their requests to unrelated
>origin servers S1 and S2.  If S2 is down, the C1->S1 request is stalled
>until the C2->S2 request times out.
>This is why draft-ietf-http-v11-spec-06.txt says
>	8.1.4 Practical Considerations
>	[...] A proxy SHOULD use up to 2*N connections to another
>	server or proxy, where N is the number of simultaneously active
>	users. These guidelines are intended to improve HTTP response
>	times and avoid congestion of the Internet or other networks.

I think we're talking about different time frames for multiplexing. I
think you're thinking about multiplexing outstanding requests over one
connection using pipelining, and I'm thinking about switching the
connection from one client to another, when there are no outstanding
requests on the connection. The "head of line blocking problem" can't
occur when there is never anything ahead of you in the line.
To give a concrete example that incorporates both points of view:
suppose that there is a proxy that, in a typical one hour period,
services requests for 1000 clients to a particular server, and that, due
to the request interarrival times and service times, in this period as
many as 100 of these clients had a pipelined burst of requests
simultaneously outstanding to that server. Section 8.1.4 says that the
proxy should use 200 connections to service these 100 clients (instead
of trying to multiplex them across a smaller number of connections using
pipelining).  The sticky header context mechanism was designed to allow
the proxy to have (in this example) roughly 10 contexts on each
connection, so that an incoming request could be assigned to a
connection that already has a context for it, if it isn't busy;
otherwise, a new connection should be opened (and a context created for
it. (If a new connection weren't opened, then the static assignment of
clients to connections could lead to a blocking problem.)

I think that 8.1.4 is ambiguous -- in my example, are there 100 or 1000
simultaneuously active users? I think it's 100, for the purpose for
which 8.1.4 is intended, and 1000, for the purpose for which sticky
header contexts are intended.

Maybe the word "connection multiplexing" too strongly implies the finer
grained sharing -- I'm open to using a less loaded term; "connection
reuse", perhaps?
Received on Monday, 5 August 1996 15:15:37 EDT

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