Towards Soft Circuit Breaking in Service Meshes via Application-agnostic Caching

Lars Larsson, William Tärneberg, Cristian Klein, Maria Kihl, Erik Elmroth

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearch


Service meshes factor out code dealing with inter-micro-service communication, such as circuit breaking. Circuit breaking actuation is currently limited to an "on/off" switch, i.e., a tripped circuit breaker will return an application-level error indicating service unavailability to the calling micro-service. This paper proposes a soft circuit breaker actuator, which returns cached data instead of an error. The overall resilience of a cloud application is improved if constituent micro-services return stale data, instead of no data at all. While caching is widely employed for serving web service traffic, its usage in inter-micro-service communication is lacking. Micro-services responses are highly dynamic, which requires carefully choosing adaptive time-to-life caching algorithms. We evaluate our approach through two experiments. First, we quantify the trade-off between traffic reduction and data staleness using a purpose-build service, thereby identifying algorithm configurations that keep data staleness at about 3% or less while reducing network load by up to 30%. Second, we quantify the network load reduction with the micro-service benchmark by Google Cloud called Hipster Shop. Our approach results in caching of about 80% of requests. Results show the feasibility and efficiency of our approach, which encourages implementing caching as a circuit breaking actuator in service meshes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr 6

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Computer Systems
  • Computer Science


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