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Load balancing first draft.

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1 parent 90262f8 commit b31ec1e81c93d4c9bf30a4600096a6a6f5b90935 @dgquintas dgquintas committed Feb 11, 2016
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+Load Balancing in gRPC
+=======================
+
+## Objective
+
+To design a load balancing API between a gRPC client and a Load Balancer to
+instruct the client how to send load to multiple backend servers.
+
+## Background
+
+Prior to any gRPC specifics, we explore some usual way to approach load
+balancing.
+
+## Proxy Model
+
+Using a proxy provides a solid trustable client that can report load to the load
+balancing system. Proxies typically require more resources to operate since they
+have temporary copies of the RPC request and response. This model also increases
+latency to the RPCs.
+
+The proxy model was deemed inefficient when considering request heavy services
+like storage.
+
+## Balancing-aware Client
+
+This thicker client places more of the load balancing logic in the client. For
+example, the client could contain many load balancing policies (Round Robin,
+Random, etc) used to select servers from a list. In this model, a load balancer
+would be responsible for providing a list of servers and let the client choose
+the preferred server from the list.
+
+One of the drawbacks of this approach is writing and maintaining the load
+balancing policies in multiple languages and/or versions of the clients. These
+policies can be fairly complicated. Some of the algorithms also require client
+to server communication so the client would need to get thicker to support
+additional RPCs to get health or load information in addition to sending RPCs
+for user requests.
+
+It would also significantly complicate the API: the new design hides the load
+balancing complexity of multiple layers and presents it as a simple list of
+servers to the client.
+
+## External Load Balancing Service
+
+The client load balancing code is kept simple and portable, implementing
+straightforward algorithms (ie, Pick First, Round Robin) for server selection.
+Complex load balancing algorithms are instead provided by the load balancer. The
+client relies on the load balancer to provide _load balancing configuration_ and
+_the list of servers_ to which the client should send requests. The balancer
+updates the server list as needed to balance the load as well as handle server
+unavailability or health issues. The load balancer will make any necessary
+complex decisions and inform the client. The load balancer may communicate with
+the backend servers to collect load and health information.
+
+## Proposed Architecture
+
+The gRPC load balancing approach follows the third approach, by having an
+external load balancer which provides simple clients with a list of servers.
+
+## Client
+
+When establishing a gRPC stream to the balancer, the client will send an initial
+request to the load balancer (via a regular gRPC message). The load balancer
+will respond with client config (including, for example, settings for flow
+control, RPC deadlines, etc.) or a redirect to another load balancer. If the
+balancer did not redirect the client, it will then send a list of servers to the
+client. The client will contain simple load balancing logic for choosing the
+next server when it needs to send a request.
+
+## Load Balancer
+
+The Load Balancer is responsible for providing the client with a list of servers
+and client RPC parameters. The balancer chooses when to update the list of
+servers and can decide whether to provide a complete list, a subset, or a
+specific list of “picked” servers in a particular order. The balancer can
+optionally provide an expiration interval after which the server list should no
+longer be trusted and should be updated by the balancer.
+
+The load balancer is may open reporting streams to each server contained in the
+server list. These streams are primarily used for load reporting. For example,
+Weighted Round Robin requires that the servers report utilization to the load
+balancer in order to compute the next list of servers.
+
+## Server
+
+The gRPC Server is responsible for answering RPC requests and providing
+responses to the client. The server will also report load to the load balancer
+if a reporting stream was opened for this purpose.
+
+### Security
+
+The load balancer may be separate from the actual server backends and a
+compromise of the load balancer should only lead to a compromise of the
+loadbalancing functionality. In other words, a compromised load balancer should
+not be able to cause a client to trust a (potentially malicious) backend server
+any more than in a comparable situation without loadbalancing.

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