[erlang-questions] [project-iris] Re: Iris v0.3.0 out, with fresh new APIs

Péter Szilágyi <>
Mon Aug 11 20:02:17 CEST 2014


Hey Lee,

  I'm cross replying to both the erlang-questions and the project-iris
mailing list to have an answer at both sides.

  Just to have a complete answer to all raised questions:

1. Is it possible to cluster brokers?  Having a single broker would be a
single point of failure.  It would be better to cluster the brokers; or
maybe even have one broker per physical VM.
As you probably found out, the brokers are actually local access points
into the system. The routing itself is done in a decentralized way by the
full collection of brokers (or relays). So, yes, Iris was meant to run one
Iris node per VM, and all clients attach to that single node. But the Iris
nodes in the network will form the P2P overlay itself.

2. What messaging protocol does this use?
Completely custom one based on Go's gob encoding. Since Iris isn't meant to
talk internally to anything else (client applications are free to do
whatever they want), there is no need to standardize a protocol. This way
it can evolve freely whenever needed (and it currently does so heavily
since there are quite a lot of rough edges that need sorting out).

3. “When” a node is temporarily partitioned on the network, does it try to
reconnect?  If so, how often and for how long?
Each and every Iris node is constantly running a bootstrapping mechanism
<http://iris.karalabe.com/papers/2012%20-%20Szilagyi%20-%20Decentralized%20bootstrapping%20in%20clouds%20(SISY12).pdf>.
In essence, it is based on two procedures: random address probing and local
scanning. Local scanning finds nodes close by (IP wise), whereas the
probing will discover clusters further away (again, IP wise). This
mechanism is running constantly, even if the node is converged within the
network. This ensures that in the case of partitioning and reconnecting,
the network can converge quickly back into a single one. The bootstrapper
will probably need some love in the future as it's still in its original
state from a year ago, but you get the picture :)

4. When sending a message to a cluster, how is the node selected? [...]
Actually it is neither round robin nor random. There was a minor logical
flow when I designed the load balancer so it needs a bit of rework (if the
nodes are 100% loaded, the balancer screws things up), but the way it works
is that it is constantly measuring the CPU usage on the nodes and based on
the load and the amount of requests it handled over the previous time
cycle, Iris tries to approximate the processing capacity of the node (e.g.
it can handle 100 "webserver" requests / sec), and based on that
approximation distribute the arriving requests among the participants. This
mechanism obviously only works for shorter tasks (i.e order ot 10s/100s
ms), so the jury's still out of the best solution for running longer
"tasks".

  All in all there is still a *lot* to do, but I'm hoping there is also
enough to get people interested in it :)

Cheers,
  Peter


On Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 8:39 PM, Lee Sylvester <>
wrote:

> Okay, so, for point two, the answer is "it shouldn't (and mustn't)
> matter", which I would agree with.
>
> Point 4 is a little disappointing, though.  From the source, it looks like
> nodes are selected randomly.  Personally, I think this is a good
> opportunity for node clusters to specify their own choice of load
> balancing.  Since processes can be expensive and can be lengthy, choosing a
> node which is otherwise under heavy load while other nodes are vacant is
> not an option for resource intensive networks.  On our own network, for
> example, a single node may be in use for heavy resource intensive parsing
> for a couple of hours at a time, while identical nodes may be parsing many
> hundreds of small processes.  A node will not know if it is being given a
> heavy process or a light one, but it does know if it is available and it
> knows the sum of its queue.
>
> Just a thought.
>
> I would still like to know about point 3 :-)
>
> Thanks,
> Lee
>
>
>
> On Monday, 11 August 2014 17:53:20 UTC+1, Lee Sylvester wrote:
>>
>> Hi Péter,
>>
>> This is excellent stuff.  I must have missed this the first time around.
>>  I'm currently rebuilding a cloud infrastructure I wrote last year
>> (properly this time) and I'm looking for a decent messaging system.  A
>> couple of years ago, I used Skynet when writing the platform in Go.  At the
>> time, I'd found Go to be too immature for my needs, and so migrated it to
>> Erlang.  It now works great, but it isn't flexible enough for my needs,
>> hence the rewrite.  Iris looks like a perfect fit, and exactly what I was
>> looking for.
>>
>> To reiterate the questions I posted to the Erlang list:
>>
>> 1. Is it possible to cluster brokers?  Having a single broker would be a
>> single point of failure.  It would be better to cluster the brokers; or
>> maybe even have one broker per physical VM.
>>
>> 2. What messaging protocol does this use?
>>
>> 3. “When” a node is temporarily partitioned on the network, does it try
>> to reconnect?  If so, how often and for how long?
>>
>> 4. When sending a message to a cluster, how is the node selected?  I’m
>> assuming round robin.  However, it would be good to be able to supply a
>> callback for a node so that it can supply a value.  This value could then
>> be compared against its peers and the lowest value selected. For instance,
>> I have a messaging transport cluster which can cater for a given number of
>> clients.  Currently, I ping all available nodes and they readily supply a
>> count value of their connected peers.  I can then educatedly choose the
>> lowest value to always provide the least loaded node.  This is a simple
>> task, but one which would work well in this scenario, especially when tasks
>> may take seconds or hours (video encoding).
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Lee
>>
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