The changes I've made to the Lusca load shedding code (ie, being able to disable it :) works well for this workload. Migrating the backend to lighttpd (and fixing up the ETag generation to be properly consistent between 32 bit and 64 bit platforms) fixed the initial issues I was seeing.
The network pushed out around 850mbit at peak. Not a lot (heck, I can do that on one CPU of a mid-range server without a problem!) but it was a good enough test to show that things are working.
I need to teach Lusca a couple of new tricks, namely:
- It needs to be taught to download at the fastest client speed, not the slowest; and
- Some better range request caching needs to be added.
The former isn't too difficult - that is a weekend 5 line patch. The latter is more difficult. I don't really want to shoehorn in range request caching into the current storage layer. It would look a lot like how Vary and Etag is currently handled (ie, with "magical" store entries acting as indexes to the real backend objects.) I'd rather put in a dirtier hack that is easy to undo now and use the opportunity to tidy up the whole storage layer a whole lot. But the "tidying up" rant is not for this blog entry, its for the Lusca development blog.
The hack will most likely be a little logic to start downloading full objects that aren't in the cache when their first range request comes in - so subsequent range requests for those objects will be "glued" to the current request. It means that subsequent requests will "stall" until enough of the object is transferred to start satisfying their range request. The alternative is to pass through each range request to a backend until the full object is transferred and this would improve initial performance but there's a point where the backend could be overloaded with too many range requests for highly popular objects and that starts affecting how fast full objects are transferred.
As a side note, I should probably do up some math on a whiteboard here and see if I can model some of the potential behaviour(s). It would certainly be a good excuse to brush up on higher math clue. Hm..!