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This is a demo on load shedding in Clojure/Ring servers. It aims to show the difference between a server that sheds load and one that does not. The Makefile contains the entry points to start the servers and a few client utilities to demonstrate the behaviour of these servers under load.

The load shedding strategy is basic, in the sense that it does not dynamically adapt to changing conditions, the Google SRE blog calls this kind of load shedding a Procrustean load shedding.

You may recall, Poseidon's son Procrustes had a very, um, one-size-fits-all approach to accommodating his overnight guests. In its simplest form, load shedding can be a bit like that too: observe some easily obtained local measure like CPU load, memory utilization or request queue length, and when this load number crosses a predetermined "safe" level as established by load testing, drop a fraction of incoming traffic to bring the load back to safe levels.

Strategy for load shedding

This approach focuses on the following goals:

  1. Bounded waiting time in the request queue
  2. Unblocking client via timeouts
  3. Limited number of open requests in the system

To achieve this, we are using a custom fork of Ring, mainly to get the ability to:

  1. Track the time a request was ingested into the server
  2. Control how an asynchronous handler in Jetty responds to the client upon timeout

The second requirement was merged into Ring in this pull request but the first one is still required for this demo. The fork is available on Clojars: mourjo/ring-jetty-adapter.

Dependent services

This uses the following dependencies on ports (which can be installed via this docker image):

  1. Grafana on localhost:3003
  2. Statsd on localhost:8125

The clients can work without Grafana or Statsd, however, it is useful to have those visualisations. A simple dashboard is exported here: resources/grafana_dashboard.json

Additionally, the servers themselves start a JMX server for the demo clients to dynamically control how long a route should take (to simulate a downstream dependency becoming slow).

Building the servers

To compile the code:

make compile

To start the load shedding server (hard coded to run at port 3100):

make load_shedding_server

To start the non load shedding server (hard coded to run at port 3200):

make non_load_shedding_server

To send a burst of requests to the servers:

make burst_request

To send a steady rate of requests and increasing the route processing time after a while:

make steady_requests


The clients used for the demo are in the namespace procrustes.client.

In the first demo, we use procrustes.client/burst to simulate a burst of requests coming in in a short duration. The load shedding server never makes the client wait for too long, while the non load shedding server lets the queue build up over time, affecting response time severely:

Short, bursty requests

In the second demo using procrustes.client/steady, we keep the rate of requests constant but increase the time taken to process a request from 3 sec to 4 sec, shortly after the demo is started (this is done via JMX). The load shedding server rejects service to requests that otherwise would have degraded the service response time, as is seen in the case of the non load shedding server:

Steady requests

A video of the demo is available here.


Copyright © 2020 Mourjo Sen

This program and the accompanying materials are made available under the terms of the Eclipse Public License 2.0 which is available at

This Source Code may also be made available under the following Secondary Licenses when the conditions for such availability set forth in the Eclipse Public License, v. 2.0 are satisfied: GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version, with the GNU Classpath Exception which is available at


Load shedding server written in Clojure/Ring/Jetty







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