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1.9.  Producer Flow Control

1.9.1.  Overview

As of release 0.10, the C++ broker supports the use of flow control to throttle back message producers that are at risk of overflowing a destination queue.

Each queue in the C++ broker has two threshold values associated with it:

Flow Stop Threshold: this is the level of queue resource utilization above which flow control will be enabled. Once this threshold is crossed, the queue is considered in danger of overflow.

Flow Resume Threshold - this is the level of queue resource utilization below which flow control will be disabled. Once this threshold is crossed, the queue is no longer considered in danger of overflow.

In the above description, queue resource utilization may be defined as the total count of messages currently enqueued, or the total sum of all message content in bytes.

The value for a queue's Flow Stop Threshold must be greater than or equal to the value of the queue's Flow Resume Threshold.

1.9.1.1.  Example

Let's consider a queue with a maximum limit set on the total number of messages that may be enqueued to that queue. Assume this maximum message limit is 1000 messages. Assume also that the user configures a Flow Stop Threshold of 900 messages, and a Flow Resume Threshold of 500 messages. Then the following holds:

The queue's initial flow control state is "OFF".

While the total number of enqueued messages is less than or equal to 900, the queue's flow control state remains "OFF".

When the total number of enqueued messages is greater than 900, the queue's flow control state transitions to "ON".

When the queue's flow control state is "ON", it remains "ON" until the total number of enqueued messages is less than 500. At that point, the queue's flow control state transitions to "OFF".

A similar example using total enqueued content bytes as the threshold units are permitted.

Thresholds may be set using both total message counts and total byte counts. In this case, the following rules apply:

1) Flow control is "ON" when either stop threshold value is crossed.

2) Flow control remains "ON" until both resume thresholds are satisfied.

1.9.1.2.  Example

Let's consider a queue with a maximum size limit of 10K bytes, and 5000 messages. A user may assign a Flow Stop Threshold based on a total message count of 4000 messages. They may also assigne a Flow Stop Threshold of 8K bytes. The queue's flow control state transitions to "ON" if either threshold is crossed: (total-msgs greater-than 4000 OR total-bytes greater-than 8K).

Assume the user has assigned Flow Resume threshold's of 3000 messages and 6K bytes. Then the queue's flow control will remain active until both thresholds are satified: (total-msg less-than 3000 AND total-bytes less-than 6K).

The Broker enforces flow control by delaying the completion of the Message.Transfer command that causes a message to be delivered to a queue with active flow control. The completion of the Message.Transfer command is held off until flow control state transitions to "OFF" for all queues that are a destination for that command.

A message producing client is permitted to have a finite number of commands pending completion. When the total number of these outstanding commands reaches the limit, the client must not issue further commands until one or more of the outstanding commands have completed. This window of outstanding commands is considered the sender's "capacity". This allows any given producer to have a "capacity's" worth of messages blocked due to flow control before the sender must stop sending further messages.

This capacity window must be considered when determining a suitable flow stop threshold for a given queue, as a producer may send its capacity worth of messages _after_ a queue has reached the flow stop threshold. Therefore, a flow stop threshould should be set such that the queue can accomodate more messages without overflowing.

For example, assume two clients, C1 and C2, are producing messages to one particular destination queue. Assume client C1 has a configured capacity of 50 messages, and client C2's capacity is 15 messages. In this example, assume C1 and C2 are the only clients queuing messages to a given queue. If this queue has a Flow Stop Threshold of 100 messages, then, worst-case, the queue may receive up to 165 messages before clients C1 and C2 are blocked from sending further messages. This is due to the fact that the queue will enable flow control on receipt of its 101'st message - preventing the completion of the Message.Transfer command that carried the 101'st message. However, C1 and C2 are allowed to have a total of 65 (50 for C1 and 15 for C2) messages pending completion of Message.Transfer before they will stop producing messages. Thus, up to 65 messages may be enqueued beyond the flow stop threshold before the producers will be blocked.

1.9.2.  User Interface

By default, the C++ broker assigns a queue's flow stop and flow resume thresholds when the queue is created. The C++ broker also allows the user to manually specify the flow control thresholds on a per queue basis.

However, queues that have been configured with a Limit Policy of type RING or RING-STRICT do NOT have queue flow thresholds enabled by default. The nature of a RING queue defines its behavior when its capacity is reach: replace the oldest message.

The flow control state of a queue can be determined by the "flowState" boolean in the queue's QMF management object. The queue's management object also contains a counter that increments each time flow control becomes active for the queue.

The broker applies a threshold ratio to compute a queue's default flow control configuration. These thresholds are expressed as a percentage of a queue's maximum capacity. There is one value for determining the stop threshold, and another for determining the resume threshold. The user may configure these percentages using the following broker configuration options:

        --default-flow-stop-threshold ("Queue capacity level at which flow control is activated.")
        --default-flow-resume-threshold ("Queue capacity level at which flow control is de-activated.")
      

For example:

        qpidd --default-flow-stop-threshold=90 --default-flow-resume-threshold=75
      

Sets the default flow stop threshold to 90% of a queue's maximum capacity and the flow resume threshold to 75% of the maximum capacity. If a queue is created with a default-queue-limit of 10000 bytes, then the default flow stop threshold would be 90% of 10000 = 9000 bytes and the flow resume threshold would be 75% of 10000 = 7500. The same computation is performed should a queue be created with a maximum size expressed as a message count instead of a byte count.

If not overridden by the user, the value of the default-flow-stop-threshold is 80% and the value of the default-flow-resume-threshold is 70%.

The user may disable default queue flow control broker-wide by specifying the value 0 for both of these configuration options. Note that flow control may still be applied manually on a per-queue basis in this case.

The user may manually set the flow thresholds when creating a queue. The following options may be provided when adding a queue using the qpid-config command line tool:

        --flow-stop-size=N  Sets the queue's flow stop threshold to N total bytes.
        --flow-resume-size=N  Sets the queue's flow resume threshold to N total bytes.
        --flow-stop-count=N Sets the queue's flow stop threshold to N total messages.
        --flow-resume-count=N Sets the queue's flow resume threshold to N total messages.
      

Flow thresholds may also be specified in the queue.declare method, via the arguments parameter map. The following keys can be provided in the arguments map for setting flow thresholds:

Table 1.13. Queue Declare Method Flow Control Arguments

KeyValue
qpid.flow_stop_sizeinteger - queue's flow stop threshold value in bytes
qpid.flow_resume_sizeinteger - queue's flow resume threshold value in bytes
qpid.flow_stop_countinteger - queue's flow stop threshold value as a message count
qpid.flow_resume_countinteger - queue's flow resume threshold value as a message count

The user may disable flow control on a per queue basis by setting the flow-stop-size and flow-stop-count to zero for the queue.

The current state of flow control for a given queue can be determined by the "flowStopped" statistic. This statistic is available in the queue's QMF management object. The value of flowStopped is True when the queue's capacity has exceeded the flow stop threshold. The value of flowStopped is False when the queue is no longer blocking due to flow control.

A queue will also track the number of times flow control has been activated. The "flowStoppedCount" statistic is incremented each time the queue's capacity exceeds a flow stop threshold. This statistic can be used to monitor the activity of flow control for any given queue over time.

Table 1.14. Flow Control Statistics available in Queue's QMF Class

Statistic NameTypeDescription
flowStoppedBooleanIf true, producers are blocked by flow control.
flowStoppedCountcount32Number of times flow control was activated for this queue