It’s been a few months since we‘ve started actively using ActiveMQ queue server in our project. For some time we had pretty weird problems with it and even started thinking about switching to something else or even writing our own queue server which would comply with our requirements. The most annoying problem was the following: some time after activemq restart everything worked really well and then activemq started lagging, queue started growing and all producer processes were stalling on push() operations. We rewrote our producers from Ruby to JRuby, then to Java and still – after some time everything was in a bad shape until we restarted the queue server.
Few months ago I’ve switched one of our internal projects from doing synchronous database saves of analytics data to an asynchronous processing using starling + a pool of workers. This was the day when I really understood the power of specialized queue servers. I was using database (mostly, MySQL) for this kind of tasks for years and sometimes (especially under a highly concurrent load) it worked not so fast… Few times I worked with some queue servers, but those were either some small tasks or I didn’t have a time to really get the idea, that specialized queue servers were created just to do these tasks quickly and efficiently.
All this time (few months now) I was using starling noticed really bad thing in how it works: if workers die (really die, or lock on something for a long time, or just start lagging) and queue start growing, the thing could kill your server and you won’t be able to do something about it – it just eats all your memory and this is it. Since then I’ve started looking for a better solution for our queuing, the technology was too cool to give up. I’ve tried 5 or 6 different popular solutions and all of them sucked… They ALL had the same problem – if your queue grows, this is your problem and not queue broker’s :-/ The last solution I’ve tested was ActiveMQ and either I wasn’t able to push it to its limits or it is really so cool, but looks like it does not have this memory problem. So, we’ve started using it recently.
In this small post I’d like to describe a few things that took me pretty long to figure out in ruby Stomp client: how to make queues persistent (really!) and how to process elements one by one with clients’ acknowledgments.
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