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From Daniel Ruggeri <>
Subject [users@httpd] Possible? Marking balancer members as ERROR if ProxyTimeout exceeded
Date Wed, 02 Jul 2008 19:50:13 GMT
   I am an administrator for several websites. We are using Apache HTTP v2.2.9
as a front end to communicate with WebSphere 6.0 JVM's on the back end. This is
all, typically, on Solaris 9. To meet some of the high availability requirements
of our applications, we've been using the WebSphere plugin to perform the
activities now available to mod_proxy_balancer (we've been a 2.0 shop for quite
some time and are now migrating).
   Obviously, we prefer mod_proxy_balancer for two reasons (aside from the fact
that it's not IBM). Primarily is the ability to use hardware engines with
OpenSSL - which a certain vendor has yet to figure out. And secondarily because
of the ProxyTimeout directive setting a minimum response time for the backend.
In the WebSphere plugin, a buggy backend with even a hung webcontainer thread
will sit and spin until the user just walks away from the site.
   My question stems from the behavior of ProxyTimeout. When the backend times
out, a 502 is delivered to the user and the following error logged:
[error] [client] (70007)The timeout specified has expired: proxy:
error reading status line from remote server was4stl2
It seems there are actually three available timeouts for balancer memebers...
time spent waiting for TCP ACK, time spent waiting for a connection to the
backend, and time spent waiting for an available worker from the balancer.
Unfortunately, it seems ProxyTimeout, which actually sets the amount of time
the backend has to reply, can not be accounted for in the balancer itself.
   With that in mind, I did some rummaging around to see how I might be able to
mark a backend out of service if the ProxyTimeout setting is exceeded, and then
retrying the request on the other route. For reference, we intend to set this
somewhere near 3 minutes to allow for particularly slow jobs like running
reports and what not. My research, so far, has been a bust and I can not seem
to find anything. I wanted to ask the group if anyone has experience with
configuring HTTPD to behave as described.

Some of the approaches I have considered are:
*Configure an errorDocument for 502 that points to a rewrite rule setting an env
flag for the failed route.  Somehow mark that route out of service from there?
This won't retry the request.
*When a 502 is encountered, force a rewrite of the route marked in the
stickysession cookie. Unfortunately, this won't mark the worker out of service,
but will only direct the user to the other side on their next request.
*Use environment entries to track known 502 backends and use the rewrite engine
as a replacement for the balancer module (yea, that's nuts!).

Thanks in advance for any sage wisdom

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