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EKG metrics for the OutboundQueue

The outbound queue introduces a number of EKG metrics that can be used used to monitor the queue’s health. There are a number of guages showing current status and a number of counters that keep track of error conditions.


Ongoing conversations (e.g. queue.node0.InFlight)

Records the total number of conversations that are currently on-going with peers (aka numbers of messages in-flight).

Failures (e.g., queue.node0.Failures)

Records the total number of nodes to which a recent conversation failed; we will not attempt to enqueue messages to such nodes. What exactly constitutes a “recent” failure depends on the failure policy; currently it defaults to 10 slots (200 seconds). The recent failures statistics are cleared on SIGHUP.

Scheduled (e.g., queue.node0.Scheduled)

Records the total number of conversations that have been scheduled (and enqueued to specific peers), but not yet started.

Known peers (e.g., queue.node0.bucket.BucketStatic)

The outbound queue keeps a number of buckets of peers it knows about.

  • BucketStatic: statically known peers (from a topology.yaml file; core and relay nodes only). This should only change on SIGHUP and remain static otherwise.

  • BucketSubscriptionListener: subscribers (peers that subscribed to this node by sending a MsgSubscribe message). A high number indicates a (relay) node under heavy load.

  • BucketBehindNatWorker: relay nodes discovered through DNS query (used by behind-NAT edge nodes to declare relay nodes as known peers). This should be equal to the number of relay nodes returned by DNS (through a series of DNS queries to the various hostnames).

  • BucketKademliaWorker: peers discovered through the Kademlia network (used in P2P mode). This number should remain more or less constant (configurable through the topology.yaml file), unless there are not enough Kademlia peers to discover.

For each of these buckets we counts the number of distinct known peers (i.e., ignoring routing information).

Note on directionality: The outbound queue deals with outgoing messages only. Thus, the situation looks like this for behind-NAT nodes:

  /-------------------------\           /------------------------------\
  |                         |           |                              |
  |  BEHIND-NAT NODE        |<----------+--BucketSubscriptionListener  |
  |                         |           |                              |
  |  BucketBehindNatWorker--+---------->|  RELAY NODE                  |
  |                         |           |                              |
  \-------------------------/           \------------------------------/   

The behind-NAT node discovers the relay node through a DNS request and adds the relay node to its BucketBehindNatWorker, so that it can send messages to the relay node. It then sends MsgSubscribe to the relay node, so that the relay node can add the edge node to its BucketSubscriptionListener, ensuring that the behind-NAT node will receive messages from the relay node.

In principle we could do something similar for P2P, but in this case we do not use subscription. When a P2P node discovers peers through Kademlia, it adds them to its BucketKademliaWorker, but instead of subscription it relies on Kademlia to notify other peers that they have a new neighbour; hence, the picture looks like

  /------------------------\           /------------------------\
  |                        |           |                        |
  |  NODE 1                |<----------+--BucketKademliaWorker  |
  |                        |           |                        |
  |  BucketKademliaWorker--+---------->|  NODE 2                |
  |                        |           |                        |
  \------------------------/           \------------------------/   


Problems during enqueing

Failed “enqueue-all” instructions (e.g., queue.node0.FailedEnqueueAll)

The queue is configured with detailed routing information, which minimizes the risk of network fragmentation. Normally when a message gets enqueued, this routing information (along with information about which nodes had recent failures) dictates to which set of nodes the message gets enqueued to; we call this an “enqueue-all instruction” (an instruction to enqueue it to all nodes dictated by the routing configuration).

An enqueue-all instruction is considered to have failed when we could not find any node at all to enqueue the message to. In this case the message is lost.

(Enqueuing the message does not of course imply that the message will also be successfully sent.)

Failed “enqueue-one” instructions (e.g., queue.node0.FailedEnqueueOne)

Occassionally the queue is provided with a message that should be sent to one of a specific set of nodes. Typically this happens when we learn that a certain set of nodes has some information (for instance, a particular block) that we would like to have; the queue will then enqueue the message to one node in this set; we call this an “enqueue-one instruction”.

As for enqueue-all instructions, an enqueue-one instruction is considered to have failed when we could not find any node to enqueue the message to (that is, any node in the specified set with no recent failures). In this case the message is lost.

Failure to choose an alternative (e.g., queue.node0.FailedChooseAlt)

This is related to FailedEnqueueAll, but is a less serious indicator: when we enqueue a message, the routing information says “for each of these n sets, pick an node from that set to enqueue the message to”. When we fail to pick any such node at all, we record the enqueue as having failed, but for each set individually we increment the FailedChooseAlt when we fail to choose an alternative from that set. In other words, we would only increment the FailedEnqueueAll counter after having increment the FailedChooseAlt counter by 1.

Failure to choose an alternative increases the chances of network partitioning, but the message is not (necessarily) lost.

Side note: for enqueue-one instructions we don’t separately warn about failure to choose an alternative as in this case n=1 and hence failure to choose an alternative implies failure to enqueue.

Problems during sending

At some point after enqueuing the queue will attempt to actually send the message. As discussed above, when the message sits in the queue, it will be reflected in the Scheduled gauge, and when the conversation starts, this is reflected in the InFlight gauge.

When a message fails to send, the FailedSend counter is incremented. This does not necessarily mean the message is lost, as it might still be sent to other peers; if we fail to send the message to all peers it was enqueued to, we increment the FailedAllSends counter. This is the analogue of the FailedEnqueueAll/FailedChooseAlt split during enqueueing. Unfortunately, FailedAllSends will only ever be incremented when using the synchronous API (where we enqueue a message and then wait for it to have been sent), as there is no natural point to check whether all sends failed otherwise. From a dev-ops perspective, this means that FailedAllSends may be an under-approximation, and hence FailedSend is somewhat more important a measure than FailedChooseAlt.

Finally, the queue offers a “cherished” send API. This is a wrapper around the synchronous send API which attempts to re-enqueue a message if it failed to send. Normally it will be enqueued to a different destination as the previous one will now be recorded as having a recent failure, reflected in the Failures) guage. Under very rare circumstances this could loop indefinitely; when we detect such a loop the FailedCherishLoop counter. Any value above zero for this counter indicates queue misconfiguration.

Problems during subscription

(e.g., queue.node0.FailedBucketFull.BucketSubscriptionListener)

The various buckets maintained by the queue can have a maximum size imposed on them. When an attempt is based to grow a bucket past its maximum size, the change is rejected and the corresponding counter is incremented.