Oracle iPlanet Web Server 7.0.9 Performance Tuning, Sizing, and Scaling Guide

Process Modes

You can run Web Server in one of the following modes:

Note –

Multi-process mode is deprecated for Java technology-enabled servers. Most applications are now multi-threaded, and multi-process mode is usually not needed. However, multi-process mode can significantly improve overall server throughput for NSAPI applications that do not implement fine-grained locking.

Single-Process Mode

In the single-process mode, the server receives requests from web clients to a single process. Inside the single server process, acceptor threads are running that are waiting for new requests to arrive. When a request arrives, an acceptor thread accepts the connection and puts the request into the connection queue. A request processing thread picks up the request from the connection queue and handles the request.

Because the server is multi-threaded, all NSAPI extensions written to the server must be thread-safe. This means that if the NSAPI extension uses a global resource, like a shared reference to a file or global variable, then the use of that resource must be synchronized so that only one thread accesses it at a time. All plug-ins provided with the Web Server are thread-safe and thread-aware, providing good scalability and concurrency. However, your legacy applications might be single-threaded. When the server runs the application, it can only execute one at a time. This leads to server performance problems when put under load. Unfortunately, in the single-process design, there is no real workaround.

Multi-Process Mode

You can configure the server to handle requests using multiple processes with multiple threads in each process. This flexibility provides optimal performance for sites using threads, and also provides backward compatibility to sites running legacy applications that are not ready to run in a threaded environment. Because applications on Windows generally already take advantage of multi-thread considerations, this feature applies to UNIX and Linux platforms.

The advantage of multiple processes is that legacy applications that are not thread-aware or thread-safe can be run more effectively in Web Server. However, because all of the Web Server extensions are built to support a single-process threaded environment, they might not run in the multi-process mode. The Search plug-ins fail on startup if the server is in multi-process mode, and if session replication is enabled, the server will fail to start in multi-process mode.

In the multi-process mode, the server spawns multiple server processes at startup. Depending on the configuration, each process contains one or more threads, that receive incoming requests. Since each process is completely independent, each one has its own copies of global variables, caches, and other resources. Using multiple processes requires more resources from your system. Also, if you try to install an application that requires shared state, it has to synchronize that state across multiple processes. NSAPI provides no helper functions for implementing cross-process synchronization.

When you specify a MaxProcs value greater than 1, the server relies on the operating system to distribute connections among multiple server processes (see MaxProcs (UNIX/Linux) for information about the MaxProcs directive). However, many modern operating systems do not distribute connections evenly, particularly when there are a small number of concurrent connections.

Because Web Server cannot guarantee that load is distributed evenly among server processes, you might encounter performance problems if you set Maximum Threads to 1 and MaxProcs greater than 1 to accommodate a legacy application that is not thread-safe. The problem is especially pronounced if the legacy application takes a long time to respond to requests, for example, when the legacy application contacts a back-end database. In this scenario, it might be preferable to use the default value for Maximum Threads and serialize access to the legacy application using thread pools. For more information about creating a thread pool, see thread-pool-init in Oracle iPlanet Web Server 7.0.9 Administrator’s Configuration File Reference.

If you are not running any NSAPI in your server, you should use the default settings: one process and many threads. If you are running an application that is not scalable in a threaded environment, you should use a few processes and many threads, for example, 4 or 8 processes and 128 or 512 threads per process.

MaxProcs (UNIX/Linux)

To run a UNIX or Linux server in multi-process mode, set the MaxProcs directive to a value that is greater than 1. Multi-process mode might provide higher scalability on multi-processor machines and improve the overall server throughput on large systems such as the Sun Fire T2000 server. If you set the value to less than 1, it is ignored and the default value of 1 is used.

Use the MaxProcs directive to improve overall server throughput for the following types of applications:

Do not use the MaxProcs directive when Web Server performs session management for Java applications.

You can set the value for MaxProcs by editing the MaxProcs parameter in magnus.conf.

Note –

You will receive duplicate startup messages when running your server in MaxProcs mode.