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RabbitMQ-based Reverse Proxy
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rabbitbal_rails.rb

README

Rabbitbal - reverse proxy for Rails (and beyond) on top of RabbitMQ
Based on Nanite by ezmobius http://github.com/ezmobius/nanite/tree/master

=================================================

* Introduction

Reverse proxy is a system that sits near web servers, between them and the
user. Traditional HTTP-based reverse proxies work like this (arrow indicates
direction of TCP connection and points to a tcp server):

                      --http---------> WEB SERVER 1
                      |
USER --http--> REVERSE PROXY --http--> WEB SERVER 2
                      |
                      --http---------> WEB SERVER 3


Rabbitbal works like this:

                                      |--amqp-------- WEB SERVER 1
                                      v
USER --http--> RABBITBAL --amqp--> RABBITMQ <--amqp-- WEB SERVER 2
                                      ^
                                      |--amqp-------- WEB SERVER 3

Rabbitbal is written in Ruby, and was inspired by Nanite project (see below).

* Benefits of AMQP-based reverse proxy over traditional HTTP-based one

In no particular order:

1) Model where workers fetch work as fast as they can (each going at
its own pace) in theory should provide more efficient load balancing
than a model where proxy assigns work based on certain criteria;
methods based on round robin, arbitrary weights or least connections
become simply unnecessary.

2) RabbitMQ broker implements intelligent failover out of the box -
if a web server disconnects before ack'ing,
the request will be automagically requeued for another server; all in all,
RabbitMQ is way smarter than a bunch of low level TCP connections.

3) Enhanced security of actual web servers - servers behind Rabbitbal
do not need inbound connectivity, they only need to be able to establish
an outgoing connection to RabbitMQ broker(s).

4) Rabbitbal does not need to know IPs or have direct connectivity into its
web servers (use case: Amazon EC2 without Elastic IPs)

5) Using Duplication pattern of RabbitMQ (see Resources below), you could
be reading requests and responses off of the same broker in real time
(access log aggregation, double-entry book keeping, logging, bot detection)

6) You could relatively easily have one request go to more than 1 web server

7) Add capacity as often and as much as you like - rabbitbal won't even know

8) By slightly readjusting mapping between queues and URIs, you could
add or remove capacity per URI if needed

9) TCP overhead savings compared with HTTP proxies (AMQP uses persistent TCP
connections)

* Concerns you need to be aware of

1) Speed of the entire stack may be a question mark,
  especially under load (not tested thoroughly)
2) Rabbitbal by itself can not serve static content
3) RabbitMQ broker is an additional moving part compared to HTTP proxies
4) Not tested under serious loads
5) Proof-of-concept status
6) Potential issues with persistent TCP connections when deployed over WAN

* Rabbitbal vs Nanite

Nanite is a "self assembling fabric of ruby daemons." It is meant to be
generic and extensible. In this sense, Rabbitbal is a tiny subset of
Nanite's functionality because it supports a single use case - reverse
proxy.

On the other hand, Nanite currently uses application level routing
logic (implemented in mappers) - it maintains a list of workers and
decides which worker gets which job, all on the application level based 
on inputs from developer. Mappers get pings from workers, maintain
a list of available workers and manage this list if a worker does
not send a ping, etc.

Rabbitbal, on the contrary, relies on RabbitMQ broker to do all
routing, handling client failover, keeping track of workers, etc.

Because Rabbitbal implements a fraction of functionality compared to
Nanite, its code is much shorter. Almost all coding ideas and techniques
however were taken straight from Nanite codebase.

* License

Apache License, Version 2.0 (same license as Nanite)

* Usage

0. Prerequisites: rabbitmq, tmm1-amqp, raggi-thin (see a note inside
   rabbitbal.ru borrowed from nanite), rails
1. Start rabbitmq broker
2. Edit broker connection settings in rabbitbal.ru and rabbitbal_rails.rb 
3. on frontend (starts on port 4000): thin -R rabbitbal.ru -p 4000 start
4. on backend: rabbitbal_rails.rb /path/to/rails_app
5. repeat step 4 as many times as you want on as many machines as you have

* Tests that passed
- I ran generic rails app (rails ./rails) and it worked
- I ran http://elasticserver.com codebase (this is where I work)
  on Rabbitbal and it worked

* Resources
- Wikipedia on reverse proxies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_proxy
- rabbitmq http://rabbitmq.com
- tmm1-amqp http://github.com/tmm1/amqp/tree/master
- nanite http://github.com/ezmobius/nanite/tree/master
- My RabbitMQ intro slides
  http://www.slideshare.net/somic/introduction-to-amqp-messaging-with-rabbitmq
- blog by Ben Hood of RabbitMQ core team http://hopper.squarespace.com/blog/
- RabbitMQ Offsite FAQ http://lettuce.squarespace.com/faq/
- My blog post on RabbitMQ patterns
  http://somic.org/2008/11/11/using-rabbitmq-beyond-queueing/

* Naming

Rabbitbal is named after perlbal http://www.danga.com/perlbal/

* TODO

- Test under load
- Test under heavy load
- Test correct AMQP functionality
- Get rid of MQ::Queue monkey patch

* Author

Dmitriy Samovskiy, http://somic.org

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