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Generic Request Response Broker for JMS

A robust and easy-to-use implementation of the Request-Response paradigm

This article describes the design and implementation of a generic request/response broker (RRB) for JMS. RRB augments JMS with a highly efficient implementation of the request-response paradigm.

It's extremely important for many asynchronous applications since JMS has somewhat weak built-in support for the request-response paradigm that might be inadequate for high-load enterprise applications. RRB solves the following common problems. It:

  • Provides a generic high-performance application and JMS provider-independent implementation of the request-response pattern.
  • Supports timeouts for non-blocking clients.
  • Allows efficient handling of a large number of requests/responses.
  • Lets one hide all the JMS details behind the façade interface.
  • Reduces performance degradation when a request travels through multiple façade proxies.
Possible Solutions and Their Performance Comparison
Request-response pattern is popular in enterprise applications: a client application sends a request message to a server app, which handles the request and sends the response back to the client. Here's what JMS offers for this pattern:
  • JMSMessageID and JMSCorrelationID headers can be used to link requests and responses.
  • JMSReplyTo header lets the recipient of a request know where to send the response.
  • TopicRequestor/QueueRequestor helpers allow sending a request and block until a response is received.
TopicRequestor/QueueRequestor is the only JMS built-in "request-response broker" and has three drawbacks:
  • It's a blocking call.
  • You're not allowed to specify a timeout in the only existing request() method, so your thread may be blocked forever if there's no response.
  • It creates and deletes a temporary response destination for every request, which has big performance implications as we'll see later.
Because of these drawbacks, the burden of implementing timeouts and retrieving response messages efficiently is left to the developers of the client applications and that's exactly what RRB is designed to solve (The source code for this article can be downloaded from www.sys-con.com/java/sourcec.cfm.)

Timeout for Non-blocking Clients
Standard JMS lets the client provide a timeout only for the blocking (synchronous) calls in the method MessageConsumer.receive(): a client is blocked until the message is received or the time specified has expired. Of course, a blocking call isn't a preferred way in JMS to get a message. It's better to use a MessageListener object registered with a particular destination that's called whenever a message is received. Unfortunately standard JMS makes no provision for using timeouts with asynchronous calls using listeners: MessageListener only has onMessage() callback methods and no onTimeout(). That means your listener will be called only when a message is posted to the destination you're listening on; it'll never be called if for some reason the message you expected never arrived. In many real-life apps and in almost every request-response scenario you can't wait for a message indefinitely (especially if it's a response). You need to bail out after some timeout.

Efficient Implementation of the Response Handling
In JMS there are three ways to get a response message:

1.  Create/delete a temporary destination per request

  • Pros:
    - Clean design, response destination isn't shared, no filtering required
    - Relatively easy to implement
  • Cons:
    - Inherently bad performance (temporary destinations are always created inside the MOM provider, which generally means two extra network calls: create and delete a temporary destination plus all the housekeeping and resources on the app server to maintain the temp destination).
2.  Use the same destination for multiple responses in combination with JMS selectors for filtering
  • Pros:
    - Relatively clean design, no filtering in the client once the selector is set up
  • Cons:
    - Questionable performance: some vendors don't recommend using selectors
    - Many possible pitfalls (for example, selectors on strings are much slower than on integers)
3.  Use the same destination for multiple responses without JMS selectors
  • Pros:
    - Can be fast depending on the implementation
  • Cons:
    - Filtering has to be done in the client's code
    - Many possible pitfalls that will result in lost or doubly handled messages (for example, when two or more apps use the same "unique" application_id properties for filtering)
    - High load on the client listeners (in case of a response topic) that are called every time a message is received and subsequently discarded by all but one listener
To fully understand the performance impact of the different retrieval options mentioned above I wrote a simple JMS server app (EchoClient.java) and three different JMS client apps for every option: EchoClientMultTempQs.java, EchoClientSelector.java, and EchoClient.java. These clients will show the performance metrics of each message retrieval approach. All the tests were run in the same environment: one physical Linux box using three separate JVMs, echo client, JMS provider, and an echo server.

Option 1. A new temp destination for every response:


java EchoClientMultTempQs echo_server.properties 1000
...
N of reqs/resps = 1000
Total time = 13765 millisecs
Average roundtrip time = 13.765 millisecs

Option 2. The same destination using jms selectors for filtering:


java EchoClientSelector echo_server.properties 1000
...
N of reqs/resps = 1000
Total time = 10705 millisecs
Average roundtrip time = 10.705 millisecs

More Stories By Lev Kochubeevsky

Lev Kochubeevsky is a chief architect at AOL in Dulles, Virginia.
His main areas of interest include high performance enterprise systems,
distributed software architectures, messaging, virtual machines,
simulators
and
debuggers. Lev holds a master degree in computer science.

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