Creating high performance WCF services

http://weblogs.asp.net/sweinstein/archive/2009/01/03/creating-high-performance-wcf-services.aspx

 

 

 

 

I had a WCF service where I wanted to be able to support over a hundred concurrent users, and while most of the service methods had small payloads which returned quickly, the startup sequence needed to pull down 200,000 records. The out of the box WCF service had no ability to support this scenario, but with some effort I was able to squeeze orders of magnitude performance increases out of the service and hit the performance goal.

Initially performance was abysmal and there was talk of ditching WCF entirely ( and as the one pushing WCF technology on the project this didn’t seem like a career enhancing change )

 

Here’s how performance was optimized. These are listed in the order they were implemented. Some are fairly obvious, others took some time to discover.  Each item represents, a significant increase in latency or scalability from the prior – and although I have internal measurement numbers, I’m not comfortable publishing them as the size of the data increased, and the testing approach changed.

  1. Use NetTCP binding
    This helps both throughput and the time it takes to open and close connections
  2. Use DataContract Serializer instead of XMLSerializer
    I started out using DataTables – POCO objects via Linq2Sql yielded a 6x increase
    slow: [OperationContract] MyDataTable GetData(…);
    fast: [OperationContract] IEnumerable<MyData> GetData(…);
  3. Unthrottle your service
    It’s quite understanable that WCF is resistant to Denial of Service attacks out of the box, but it’s too bad that it’s is such a manual operation to hit the “turbo button”. It would be nice if the Visual Studio tooling did this for you, or at least had some guidance (MS – hint, hint)

    The items to look at here are:

    1. <serviceBehaviors><serviceThrottling …> set the max values high
    2. <dataContractSerializer maxItemsInObjectGraph=”2147483647″ />
    3. and under <netTcpBinding> setting the listenBacklog, maxConnections, and maxBuffer* value high
  4. Cache your data
    WCF, unlike ASP.Net has no built in facility to cache service responses, so you need to do it by hand. Any cache class will do.
  5. Normalize/compress your data
    this doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the database, the Linq GroupBy operators make this easy to do in code. To clarify, say your data is kept in a denormalized table

    string Key1
    string Key2
    string Key3
    int val1
    int val2

    the bulk of the result set ends up being duplicate data

    LongKeyVal1 LongKeyVal2 LongKeyVal3 10 12
    LongKeyVal1 LongKeyVal2 LongKeyVal3 11 122
    LongKeyVal1 LongKeyVal2 LongKeyVal3 12 212

    so normalize this into

    LongKeyVal1 LongKeyVal2 LongKeyVal3
    10 12
    11 122
    12 212

    In code, given the following classes

    01.public class MyDataDenormalized
    02.{
    03.public string Key1 { get; set; }
    04.public string Key2 { get; set; }
    05.public string Key3 { get; set; }
    06.public int Val1 { get; set; }
    07.public int Val2 { get; set; }
    08.}
    09.public class MyDataGroup
    10.{
    11.public string Key1 { get; set; }
    12.public string Key2 { get; set; }
    13.public string Key3 { get; set; }
    14.public MyDataItem[] Values { get; set; }
    15.}
    16.public class MyDataItem
    17.{
    18.public int Val1 { get; set; }
    19.public int Val2 { get; set; }
    20.}

    you can transform an IEnumerable<MyDataDenormalized> into a IEnumerable<MyDataGroup> via the following

    01.var keyed = from sourceItem in source
    02.group sourceItem by new
    03.{
    04.sourceItem.Key1,
    05.sourceItem.Key2,
    06.sourceItem.Key3,
    07.} into g
    08.select g;
    09.var groupedList = from kItems in keyed
    10.let newValues = (from sourceItem in kItems select new MyDataItem() { Val1 = sourceItem.Val1, Val2= sourceItem.Val2 }).ToArray()
    11.select new MyDataGroup()
    12.{
    13.Key1 = kItems.Key.Key1,
    14.Key2 = kItems.Key.Key2,
    15.Key3 = kItems.Key.Key3,
    16.Values = newValues,
    17.};
  6. Use the BinaryFormatter, and cache your serializations
    If you’re willing to forgo over the wire type safety, the binary formatter is the way to go for scalability. Data caching has only a limited impact if a significant amount of CPU time is spent serializing it – which is exactly what happens with the DataContract serializer.

    The operation contract changes to

  7. 1.[OperationContract]
    2.Byte[] GetData(...);

    and the implementation to

    1.var bf = new BinaryFormatter();
    2.using (var ms = new MemoryStream())
    3.{
    4.bf.Serialize(ms, groupeList);<br> // and best to cache it too
    5.return ms.GetBuffer();
    6.}

     

Before items 4,5, and 6 the service would max out at about 50 clients ( response time to go way up and CPU usage would hit 80% – on a 8 core box). After these changes were made, the service could handle of 100 + clients and CPU usage flattened out at 30%

Update: Shay Jacoby has reasonably suggested I show some code.

Update2: Brett asks about relative impact. Here’s a summary

item latency scalability
2) DataContract Serializer large large
3) unthrottle small large
4) cache data small
5) normalize data medium
6) cache serialization small large

 

kick it on DotNetKicks.com Published Saturday, January 03, 2009 8:14 PM by Scott Weinstein Filed under: , ,

This entry was posted in Best Practices. Bookmark the permalink.

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