andreas-schroeder / akka-http-concurrency-limits

Adaptive concurrency limits for akka http

Version Matrix

Akka Http Concurrency Limits

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Akka http implementation for Netflix's adaptive concurrency limits.

In good reactive manner, this adapter avoids blocking threads and synchronization by using Akka Streams primitives and actors.

When To Use Concurrency Limits

Using concurrency limits defeats backpressure mechanisms of Akka Streams, as they accept and reject requests instead of leaving them unprocessed. In Akka Http, the backpressure behavior slows down clients until their requests time out. Then, when the amount of open requests exceeds the number of server connections (default: 1024) the http server starts rejecting connection requests. Adaptive concurrency limits in contrast try to maintain low response times and kick in as soon as response times increase by rejecting requests immediately. This is relevant when you want to maintain tight latency bounds and prefer rejecting requests that are over capacity. This service latency control works in an adaptive and immediate way, without having to rely on queue length tuning and out-of-band latency measurements. Instead, adaptive concurrency limits perform on-line latency measurements and respond dynamically to increases in response times. For more details on motivation and design, see also the according Netfix blog post.


For sbt, add

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "io.github.andreas-schroeder" %% "akka-http-concurrency-limits" % "0.0.3",

For other build tools, see maven central.


Apply an (adaptive) concurrency limit to an http route passed as follows:

import akka.http.concurrency.limits._
import akka.http.scaladsl.Http
import akka.http.scaladsl.server.Directives._

implicit val system: ActorSystem = ActorSystem()

val config = HttpLiFoQueuedConcurrencyLimitConfig(FixedLimit.of(256))
val limitFlow = HttpServerConcurrencyLimit.liFoQueued(config)

val route = pathSingleSlash {
    get {

Http().newServerAt("", 8080).bindFlow(limitFlow join route)

In the above example, limitFlow is a bidirectional flow that wraps the route and ensures that the number of in-flight http requests do never exceed the current concurrency limit. The config object allows to modify the behavior of the global concurrency limit.

LiFoQueued Configuration

Config Description Default
limitAlgorithm the limit algorithm to use. none
maxLiFoQueueDepth max queue depth - this is multiplied with the current concurrency limit to determine queue length. 16
batchSize amount of requests that may be served given a single capacity grant of the global limiter actor. 10
batchTimeout validity time of capacity grant batches provided by the global limiter actor. 500 ms
maxDelay the maximum time to wait in the lifo queue for available capacity. 50 ms
weight relative processing cost of request to adjust latency measurements. extracts RequestWeight attribute from response, defaults to 1
rejectionResponse function to compute the response to give when rejecting a request. Http 429 - too many requests
result how to evaluate the response in terms of latency: was the request dropped, was it successfully processed, or should it be ignored for computing the adaptive concurrency limit. ignore client and server errors, measure all others
name name of the limit actor. Must be globally unique. Specify if you need to create more than one server limiter. http-server-limiter

Available Limiters

The Netflix-provided concurrency limit algorithms need to be managed by limiters providing additional capabilities. Currently, Akka http concurrency limits offers the following limiters.

LiFoQueued Limiter

A limiter that features a LiFo-queue (last in, first out). Once the current concurrency limit is reached, this limiter starts delaying requests for up to a configurable amount of time (see the config object). The requests are dequeued in reverse order in order to ensure higher success rate under overload, while disregarding fairness towards clients.

Using Limiters in other contexts

This library provides three building blocks that can be used in other contexts, especially around mapAsync stream stages performing external I/O. The HttpServerConcurrencyLimit.liFoQueued is made up of a LiFoQueuedLimitActor managing the concurrency limit, and a GlobaLimitBidiFlow whose materializations interact with a given limit actor to ask for capacity. These two can be used to globally limit the concurrency of multiple independent mapAsync stream stages. The third building block is the LocalLimitBidiFlow that manages the limit algorithm directly.

import akka.http.concurrency.limits._
import akka.http.concurrency.limits.LimitBidiFolow._
import{Flow, Sink, Source}
import scala.concurrent.Future
import scala.concurrent.duration._

implicit val sys = ActorSystem()
implicit val mat = Materializer(sys)
implicit val ec = sys.dispatcher

val maxParallelism = 20

val limitFlow =
  LocalLimitBidiFlow[Int, String](() => FixedLimit.of(10), maxParallelism, _ => "Rejected", _ => Processed)

val mapAsync = Flow[Int].mapAsyncUnordered(maxParallelism) { _ =>
  akka.pattern.after(10.millis, sys.scheduler)(Future.successful("Accepted"))

Source.repeat(1).take(20).via(limitFlow join mapAsync).runWith(Sink.collection)

Note that the LocalLimitBidiFlow doesn't implement any queuing or delay of messages once the concurrency limit is reached. Instead, it immediately rejects elements once at capacity, and by this:

  1. defeats any back-pressuring mechanism preceding it. The main use case for concurrency limits is to immediately reject when waiting for capacity is not useful, since the response need to be immediate to be valuable.
  2. reorders elements in that rejected elements overtake slower accepted ones in the wrapped flow. Use this only when element order does not matter.

Performance Penalty

Introducing a global concurrency limit means introducing a global lock over all http route instances that are otherwise connection-local only. With grant batch size of 1 to 10, the performance penalty of this is roughly 10% - 15% in throughput for the route above serving only Http 200 Ok. For a route that has a 5 ms delay, the throughput penalty vanishes. With a grant batch size of 1000, even the performance penalty for a simple 200 Ok route vanishes as well (at a benchmark throughput of ~ 19.000 op/s). Run a benchmark to evaluate how much of a penalty it would be for you.