Posts Tagged ‘load balancer’

Improve Apache Load Balancing with mod_cluster – Apaches to Tomcats Application servers Get Better Load Balancing

Thursday, March 31st, 2016


Earlier I've blogged on How to set up Apache to to serve as a Load Balancer for 2, 3, 4  etc. Tomcat / other backend application servers with mod_proxy and mod_proxy_balancer, however though default Apache provided mod_proxy_balancer works fine most of the time, If you want a more precise and sophisticated balancing with better load distribuion you will probably want to install and use mod_cluster instead.


So what is Mod_Cluster and why use it instead of Apache proxy_balancer ?

Mod_cluster is an innovative Apache module for HTTP load balancing and proxying. It implements a communication channel between the load balancer and back-end nodes to make better load-balancing decisions and redistribute loads more evenly.

Why use mod_cluster instead of a traditional load balancer such as Apache's mod_balancer and mod_proxy or even a high-performance hardware balancer?

Thanks to its unique back-end communication channel, mod_cluster takes into account back-end servers' loads, and thus provides better and more precise load balancing tailored for JBoss and Tomcat servers. Mod_cluster also knows when an application is undeployed, and does not forward requests for its context (URL path) until its redeployment. And mod_cluster is easy to implement, use, and configure, requiring minimal configuration on the front-end Apache server and on the back-end servers.

So what is the advantage of mod_cluster vs mod proxy_balancer ?

Well here is few things that turns the scales  in favour for mod_cluster:


  •     advertises its presence via multicast so as workers can join without any configuration
  •     workers will report their available contexts
  •     mod_cluster will create proxies for these contexts automatically
  •     if you want to, you can still fine-tune this behaviour, e.g. so as .gif images are served from httpd and not from workers…
  •     most importantly: unlike pure mod_proxy or mod_jk, mod_cluster knows exactly how much load there is on each node because nodes are reporting their load back to the balancer via special messages
  •     default communication goes over AJP, you can use HTTP and HTTPS


1. How to install mod_cluster on Linux ?

You can use mod_cluster either with JBoss or Tomcat back-end servers. We'll install and configure mod_cluster with Tomcat under CentOS; using it with JBoss or on other Linux distributions is a similar process. I'll assume you already have at least one front-end Apache server and a few back-end Tomcat servers installed.

To install mod_cluster, first download the latest mod_cluster httpd binaries. Make sure to select the correct package for your hardware architecture – 32- or 64-bit.
Unpack the archive to create four new Apache module files:,,, and We won't need; it advertises the location of the load balancer through multicast packets, but we will use a static address on each back-end server.

Copy the other three .so files to the default Apache modules directory (/etc/httpd/modules/ for CentOS).
Before loading the new modules in Apache you have to remove the default proxy balancer module ( because it is not compatible with mod_cluster.

Edit the Apache configuration file (/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf) and remove the line


LoadModule proxy_balancer_module modules/


Create a new configuration file and give it a name such as /etc/httpd/conf.d/mod_cluster.conf. Use it to load mod_cluster's modules:




LoadModule slotmem_module modules/
LoadModule manager_module modules/
LoadModule proxy_cluster_module modules/

In the same file add the rest of the settings you'll need for mod_cluster something like:

And for permissions and Virtualhost section



        Order deny,allow
        Allow from all 192.168

    ManagerBalancerName mymodcluster

ProxyPass / balancer://mymodcluster/

The above directives create a new virtual host listening on port 9999 on the Apache server you want to use for load balancing, on which the load balancer will receive information from the back-end application servers. In this example, the virtual host is listening on IP address, and for security reasons it allows connections only from the network.
The directive ManagerBalancerName defines the name of the cluster – mymodcluster in this example. The directive EnableMCPMReceive allows the back-end servers to send updates to the load balancer. The standard ProxyPass and ProxyPassReverse directives instruct Apache to proxy all requests to the mymodcluster balancer.
That's all you need for a minimal configuration of mod_cluster on the Apache load balancer. At next server restart Apache will automatically load the file mod_cluster.conf from the /etc/httpd/conf.d directory. To learn about more options that might be useful in specific scenarios, check mod_cluster's documentation.

While you're changing Apache configuration, you should probably set the log level in Apache to debug when you're getting started with mod_cluster, so that you can trace the communication between the front- and the back-end servers and troubleshoot problems more easily. To do so, edit Apache's configuration file and add the line LogLevel debug, then restart Apache.

2. How to set up Tomcat appserver for mod_cluster ?

Mod_cluster works with Tomcat version 6, 7 and 8, to set up the Tomcat back ends you have to deploy a few JAR files and make a change in Tomcat's server.xml configuration file.
The necessary JAR files extend Tomcat's default functionality so that it can communicate with the proxy load balancer. You can download the JAR file archive by clicking on "Java bundles" on the mod_cluster download page. It will be saved under the name mod_cluster-parent-1.2.6.Final-bin.tar.gz.

Create a new directory such as /root/java_bundles and extract the files from mod_cluster-parent-1.2.6.Final-bin.tar.gz there. Inside the directory /root/java_bundlesJBossWeb-Tomcat/lib/*.jar you will find all the necessary JAR files for Tomcat, including two Tomcat version-specific JAR files – mod_cluster-container-tomcat6-1.2.6.Final.jar for Tomcat 6 and mod_cluster-container-tomcat7-1.2.6.Final.jar for Tomcat 7. Delete the one that does not correspond to your Tomcat version.

Copy all the files from /root/java_bundlesJBossWeb-Tomcat/lib/ to your Tomcat lib directory – thus if you have installed Tomcat in


run the command:


cp -rpf /root/java_bundles/JBossWeb-Tomcat/lib/* /srv/tomcat/lib/.


Then edit your Tomcat's server.xml file


After the default listeners add the following line:


<listener classname="org.jboss.modcluster.container.catalina.standalone.ModClusterListener" proxylist=""> </listener>

This instructs Tomcat to send its mod_cluster-related information to IP on TCP port 9999, which is what we set up as Apache's dedicated vhost for mod_cluster.
While that's enough for a basic mod_cluster setup, you should also configure a unique, intuitive JVM route value on each Tomcat instance so that you can easily differentiate the nodes later. To do so, edit the server.xml file and extend the Engine property to contain a jvmRoute, like this:



<engine defaulthost="localhost" jvmroute="node2" name="Catalina"></engine>

Assign a different value, such as node2, to each Tomcat instance. Then restart Tomcat so that these settings take effect.

To confirm that everything is working as expected and that the Tomcat instance connects to the load balancer, grep Tomcat's log for the string "modcluster" (case-insensitive). You should see output similar to:

Mar 29, 2016 10:05:00 AM org.jboss.modcluster.ModClusterService init
INFO: MODCLUSTER000001: Initializing mod_cluster ${project.version}
Mar 29, 2016 10:05:17 AM org.jboss.modcluster.ModClusterService connectionEstablished
INFO: MODCLUSTER000012: Catalina connector will use /

This shows that mod_cluster has been successfully initialized and that it will use the connector for, the configured IP address for the main listener.
Also check Apache's error log. You should see confirmation about the properly working back-end server:

[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] proxy_util.c(2026): proxy: ajp: has acquired connection for (
[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] proxy_util.c(2082): proxy: connecting ajp:// to
[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] proxy_util.c(2209): proxy: connected / to
[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] mod_proxy_cluster.c(1366): proxy_cluster_try_pingpong: connected to backend
[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] mod_proxy_cluster.c(1089): ajp_cping_cpong: Done
[Tue Mar 29 10:05:00 2013] [debug] proxy_util.c(2044): proxy: ajp: has released connection for (

This Apache error log shows that an AJP connection with was successfully established and confirms the working state of the node, then shows that the load balancer closed the connection after the successful attempt.

You can start testing by opening in a browser the example servlet SessionExample, which is available in a default installation of Tomcat.
Access this servlet through a browser at the URL http://balancer_address/examples/servlets/servlet/SessionExample. In your browser you should see first a session ID that contains the name of the back-end node that is serving your request – for instance, Session ID: 5D90CB3C0AA05CB5FE13121E4B23E670.node2.

Next, through the servlet's web form, create different session attributes. If you have a properly working load balancer with sticky sessions you should always (that is, until your current browser session expires) access the same node, with the previously created session attributes still available.

To test further to confirm load balancing is in place, at the same time open the same servlet from another browser. You should be redirected to another back-end server where you can conduct a similar session test.
As you can see, mod_cluster is easy to use and configure. Give it a try to address sporadic single-back-end overloads that cause overall application slowdowns.

Web Application Load Balancer types and when to use what kind of Load Balancer

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

General load balancer types description / active / passive / static / dynamic and additional
In this small article I will try to clear it up the general types of Web Server Load Balancers available. Whether one choose a Load Balancer he has the option to use a software LB or a hardware LB one there are plenty of software load balancer scripts out there. In this pos t I will mention just what choice is available in hardware load balancer interface BigIP LTM F5 standard. Generally BigIP LTM Load Balancers can be grouped in Static, Dynamic and Additional. One or more Load Balancers can be configured in front of group or farm of appplication servers. When more than one load balancer is used in front of application Load Balancer could be Active Load Balancer and Passive Load Balancer.
Below information will hopefully be useful to Web and Middleware working sys admins and anybody involved in frequent and large web systems integration.

Static Load Balancing

LB_RoundRobin_ type of load balancing example picture

Round Robin
Load Balancing

This is the default load balancing method. Round Robin mode passes each new connection request to the next server in line, eventually distributing connections evenly across the array of machines being load balanced.
Round Robin mode works well in most configurations, especially if the equipment that you are load balancing is roughly equal in processing speed and memory.

ratio_member_load_balancer picture diagram

Ratio (member) / Ratio (node) Load Balancer

The Ratio (member) system distributes connections among pool members or nodes in a static rotation according to ratio weights that you define. In this case, the number of connections that each system receives over time is proportionate to the ratio weight you defined for each pool member or node. You set a ratio weight when you create each pool member or node.

These are static load balancing methods, basing distribution on user-specified ratio weights that are proportional to the capacity of the servers.

dynamic_ratio_member_load_balancer picture diagram

Dynamic Load Balancers


Dynamic Ratio (member) Dynamic Ratio (node) LB

The Dynamic Ratio load balancing select a server based on various aspects of real-time server performance analysis. These methods are similar to the Ratio methods, except that with Dynamic Ratio methods, the ratio weights are system-generated, and the values of the ratio weights are not static. These methods are based on continuous monitoring of the servers, and the ratio weights are therefore continually changing.
The Dynamic Ratio LBs are used specifically for load balancing traffic to RealNetworks® RealSystem® Server platforms, Windows® platforms equipped with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), or any server equipped with an SNMP agent such as the UC Davis SNMP agent or Windows 2000 Server SNMP agent.

dynamic_load_balancing load balancer diagram picture with circles

Fastest (node) /Fastest (application) LB

The Fastest methods select a server based on the least number of current sessions. The following rules apply to the Fastest load balancing methods:

These LB require that you assign both a Layer 7 and a TCP type of profile to the virtual server interface where LB IP is binded.
If a Layer 7 profile is not configured, the virtual server falls back to Least Connections load balancing mode.

Note: If the OneConnect feature is enabled, the Least Connections methods do not include idle connections in the calculations when selecting a pool member or node. The Least Connections balancing use only active connections in their calculations.
Fastest node load balancing is useful in environments where nodes are distributed across separate logical networks.


Least Connections (member) / Least Connections (node) LB    

The Least Connections method are relatively simple in that the system passes a new connection to the pool member or node that has the least number of active connections.

Note: If the OneConnect feature is enabled, the Least Connections methods do not include idle connections in the calculations when selecting a pool member or node. The Least Connections methods use only active connections in their calculations.
The Least Connections balancing function best in environments where the servers have similar capabilities. Otherwise, some amount of latency can occur.

For example, consider the case where a pool has two servers of differing capacities, A and B. Server A has 95 active connections with a connection limit of 100, while server B has 96 active connections with a much larger connection limit of 500. In this case, the Least Connections method selects server A, the server with the lowest number of active connections, even though the server is close to reaching capacity.

If you have servers with varying capacities, consider using the Weighted Least Connections load balancing instead.


Weighted Least Connections (member) / Weighted Least Connections (node)

Like  Least Connections, these load balancing methods select pool members or nodes based on the number of active connections. However, the Weighted Least Connections methods also base their selections on server capacity.

The Weighted Least Connections (member) method specifies that the system uses the value you specify in Connection Limit to establish a proportional algorithm for each pool member. The system bases the load balancing decision on that proportion and the number of current connections to that pool member. Example is member_a has 40 connections and its connection limit is 200, so it is at 20% of capacity. Similarly, member_b has 40 connections and its connection limit is 400, so it is at 10% of capacity. In this case, the system select selects member_b. This algorithm requires all pool members to have a non-zero connection limit specified.

The Weighted Least Connections (node) method specifies that the system uses the value you specify in the node's Connection Limit setting and the number of current connections to a node to establish a proportional algorithm. This algorithm requires all nodes used by pool members to have a non-zero connection limit specified.

If all servers have equal capacity, these load balancing  behave in the same way as the Least Connections methods.

Note: If the OneConnect feature is enabled, the Weighted Least Connections methods do not include idle connections in the calculations when selecting a pool member or node. The Weighted Least Connections  use only active connections in their calculations.

Weighted Least Connections methods work best in environments where the servers have differing capacities.
For example, if two servers have the same number of active connections but one server has more capacity than the other, the BIG-IP system calculates the percentage of capacity being used on each server and uses that percentage in its calculations.


Observed (member) / Observed (node)

With the Observed methods, nodes are ranked based on the number of connections. The Observed methods track the number of Layer 4 connections to each node over time and creates a ratio for load balancing.

The need for the Observered methods is rare, and they are not recommended for large pools.

Predictive (member) / Predictive (node)

The Predictive methods use the ranking methods used by the Observed methods, where servers are rated according to the number of current connections. However, with the Predictive methods, the BIG-IP system analyzes the trend of the ranking over time, determining whether a nodes performance is currently improving or declining. The servers with performance rankings that are currently improving, rather than declining, receive a higher proportion of the connections.

The need for the Predictive methods is rare, and they are not recommend for large pools.

Least Sessions LB type

The Least Sessions method selects the server that currently has the least number of entries in the persistence table. Use of this load balancing method requires that the virtual server reference a type of profile that tracks persistence connections, such as the Source Address Affinity or Universal profile type.

Note: The Least Sessions methods are incompatible with cookie persistence.
The Least Sessions method works best in environments where the servers or other equipment that you are load balancing have similar capabilities.


L3 Address

L3 Address is same LB type as Least Connections methods.

How to configure Apache to serve as load balancer between 2 or more Webservers on Linux / Apache basic cluster

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Apache doing load balancer between Apache servers Apache basic cluster howto

Any admin somehow involved in sphere of UNIX Webhosting knows Apache pretty well. I've personally used Apache for about 10 years now and until now I always used it as a single installation on a Linux. Always so far whenever the requirements for more client connections raised up, web hosting companies I worked for did a migration of Website / websites on a newer better (quicker) server hardware configuration. Everyone knows keeping a site on a single Apache server poses great RISK if the machine hangs up for a reason or gets DoSed this makes websites unavailable until reboot and poses unwanted downtime. Though I know pretty well the concept of load balancing until today I never had configured Apache to serve as Load balancer between two or more identical machines set-upped to interpret PHP / Perl scripts. Amazingly load balancing users web traffic happened to be much easier than I supposed. All necessary is a single Apache configured with mod_proxy_balancer which acts as proxy and ships HTTP requests between two Apache servers. Logically its very important that the entry traffic host with Apache mod_proxy_balancer has to be configured to only run only mod_proxy_balancer otherwise it will be eating unnecessary server memory as with each unnecessary loaded Apache module usage of memory resources raise up.

The scenario of my load balancer and 2 webserver hosts behind it goes like this:

a. Apache with load balancer with external IP address – i.e. ( with DNS record for ex.
b. Normally configured Apache to run PHP scripts with internal IP address through NAT – (Network address translation) (on – known under host JEREMIAH
c. Second identical Apache to above host running on with IP with internal host ISSIAH.

N.B.! All 3 hosts are running latest  Debian GNU / Linux 7.2 Wheezy
After having this in mind, I proceeded with installing the on apache and removing all unnecessary modules.

!!! Important note is if you use some already existent Apache configured to run PHP or any other unnecessary stuff – make sure you remove this otherwise expect severe performance issues !!!
1. Install Apache webserver

loadbalancer:~# apt-get install --yes apache2

2. Enable mod proxy proxy_balancer and proxy_http
On Debian Linux modules are enabled with a2enmod command;

loadbalancer:~# a2enmod proxy
loadbalancer:~# a2enmod proxy_balancer
loadbalancer:~# a2enmod proxy_http

Actually what a2enmod command does is to make symbolic links from /etc/apache2/mods-available/{proxy,proxy_balancer,proxy_http} to /etc/apache2/mods-available/{proxy,proxy_balancer,proxy_http}

3. Configure Apache mod proxy to load balance traffic between JEREMIAH and ISSAIAH webservers

loadbalancer:~# vim /etc/apache2/conf.d/proxy_balancer


Paste inside:

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

<Proxy balancer://mycluster>
ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

4. Configure Apache Proxy to access traffic from all hosts (by default it is configured to Deny from all)

<Proxy balancer://mycluster> BalancerMember BalancerMember </Proxy> ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster – See more at:

loadbalancer:~# vim /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/proxy.conf

Change there Deny from all to Allow from all

Deny from all

5. Restart Apache

loadbalancer:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Once again I have to say that above configuration is actually a basic Apache cluster so hosts behind load balancer Apache there should be machines configured to interpret scripts identically. If one Apache server of the cluster dies, the other Apache + PHP host will continue serve and deliver webserver content so no interruption will happen. This is not a round robin type of load balancer. Above configuration will distribute Webserver load requested in ratio 3/4 3 parts will be served by First server and 4th parth will be delivered by 2nd Apache.
Well, that's all load balancer is configured! Now to test it open in browser or try to access it by IP in my case:

a2enmod proxy