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USENIX 2001 Abstract

Kernel Mechanisms for Service Differentiation in Overloaded Web Servers

Thiemo Voigt, Swedish Institute of Computer Science; Renu Tewari and Douglas Freimuth, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center; and Ashish Mehra, iScale Networks


The increasing number of Internet users and innovative new services such as e-commerce are placing new demands on Web servers. It is becoming essential for Web servers to provide performance isolation, have fast recovery times, and provide continuous service during overload at least to preferred customers. In this paper, we present the design and implementation of three kernel-based mechanisms that protect Web servers against overload by providing admission control and service differentiation based on connection and application level information. Our basic admission control mechanism, TCP SYN policing, limits the acceptance rate of new requests based on the connection attributes. The second mechanism, prioritized listen queue, supports different service classes by reordering the listen queue based on the priorities of the incoming connections. Third, we present HTTP header-based connection control that uses application-level information such as URLs and cookies to set priorities and rate control policies.

We have implemented these mechanisms in AIX 5.0. Through numerous experiments we demonstrate their effectiveness in achieving the desired degree of service differentiation during overload. We also show that the kernel mechanisms are more efficient and scalable than application level controls implemented in the Web server.

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Last changed: 3 Jan. 2002 ml
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