Application Load Balancer (ALB) is a highly scalable service that can process large amounts of traffic at the application layer. This topic describes how to perform stress testing on ALB instances.
Stress testing framework
You can design the test environment based on the following figure.
Stress testing methods
Stress testing metrics
ALB is tested based on four metrics: the number of new connections, the number of concurrent connections, the data processing capacity (including requests and responses), and the number of requests per second. Each metric requires a different stress testing method.
We recommend that you use short-lived connections to test the number of new connections that can be maintained between an NLB instance and its backend servers.
We recommend that you use a heartbeat service that relies on a simple mechanism to prevent high bandwidth consumption. Make sure that the NLB instance has sufficient frontend ports to connect to clients if you use short-lived connections in a stress test.
We recommend that you use persistent connections to test the number of concurrent connections that can be maintained between an NLB instance and its backend servers.
We recommend that each persistent connection use a heartbeat service that relies on a simple mechanism to maintain session persistence. Make sure that the NLB instance has sufficient frontend ports to connect to clients if you use persistent connections in a stress test.
We recommend that you use persistent connections to test the forwarding capacity of an NLB instance. Persistent connections are suitable for testing the bandwidth limit or specific services.
Set the timeout period on the stress testing tool to a proper value, such as 5 seconds. If you set the timeout period to a large value, the average response time of stress tests increases, which makes it difficult to determine whether the NLB instance can withstand the load. If you set the timeout period to a small value, you can determine whether the NLB instance can withstand the load based on the request success rate shown in the test results.
To test the number of requests per second that can be maintained between an ALB instance and its backend servers, we recommend that you use short-lived HTTP connections, persistent HTTP connections, short-lived HTTPS connections, or persistent HTTPS connections.
Suggestions on server group configurations
We recommend that you disable health checks to reduce the number of requests sent to backend servers.
Stress testing tools
We recommend that you do not use Apache ab to perform stress tests. In high concurrency scenarios, the waiting time of Apache ab increases by increments of 3 seconds, such as 3 seconds, 6 seconds, and 9 seconds. Apache ab determines whether requests are successful based on the specified content length. If the NLB instance that you want to benchmark is associated with multiple backend servers, the actual length of the response content returned by these backend servers may be different from the specified content length. This makes the stress testing results inaccurate.
Possible causes of low scores on stress tests
Possible causes of low scores on stress tests:
Insufficient client ports
During a stress test, clients fail to establish connections with the NLB instance if the NLB instance does not have sufficient frontend ports. The NLB instance removes the timestamp property of TCP connections by default. As a result, the tw_reuse flag in the Linux stack becomes invalid. The tw_reuse flag is used to reuse connections that are in the time_wait state. Therefore, if this flag becomes invalid, connections in the time_wait state will accumulate and occupy the frontend ports of the NLB instance.
Solution: Use persistent connections instead of short-lived connections on clients. In addition, use Reset (RST) packets to close connections by setting the SO_LINGER socket option.
Full accept queues on backend servers
If the accept queue on the backend servers is full, the backend servers can no longer return syn_ack packets. As a result, requests from clients time out.
Solution: Run the
sysctl -w net.core.somaxconn=1024command to change the value of net.core.somaxconn and restart the application on the backend server. The default value of net.core.somaxconn is 128.
The dependency of the application on the backend server becomes the performance bottleneck
The traffic loads on the backend server are below the performance limit of the backend server. However, the application on the backend server may depend on another application, such as a database. Therefore, the dependency may also limit the performance of the NLB instance in stress tests.
Solution: Clear applications that are no longer in use on the backend servers.
Abnormal health status of backend servers
If a backend server is declared unhealthy or the health status of the backend server changes frequently, the performance of the NLB instance in stress tests may be degraded.
Solution: Disable health checks to reduce the number of requests sent to the backend servers.