CONNECTION_REFUSED messages on load balancing in Weblogic with OHS or Apache

In the last months I have had to work on some issues related to load balancing. It is very important to understand how the layers interact between them and where specific settings must be done.

Some people gets upset with the fact that OHS/Apache do load balancing even to servers that are shutdown and may be losing transactions.

This document provides very good tips about how many Production critical issues can be resolved just by setting the appropriate values for some parameters.

Personally, I think that the DynamicServerList parameter (which is in fact the first one mentioned on the document linked above) is particularly important to understand. As can be seen at this documentation from Oracle:
In a clustered environment, a plug-in may dispatch requests to an unavailable WebLogic Server instance because the DynamicServerList is not current in all plug-in processes.
DynamicServerList=ON works with a single Apache server (httpd daemon process), but for more than one server, such as StartServers=5, the dynamic server list will not be updated across all httpd instances until they have all tried to contact a WebLogic Server instance. This is because they are separate processes. This delay in updating the dynamic server list could allow an Apache httpd process to contact a server that another httpd process has marked as dead. Only after such an attempt will the server list will be updated within the proxy. One possible solution if this is undesirable is to set the DynamicServerList to OFF.
In a non-clustered environment, a plug-in may lose the stickiness of a session created after restarting WebLogic Server instances, because some plug-in processes do not have the new JVMID of those restarted servers, and treat them as unknown JVMIDs.
To avoid these issues, upgrade to Apache 2.0.x and configure Apache to use the multi-threaded and single-process model, mpm_worker_module.


Also, this Oracle documentation provides inportant information about "Failover, Cookies, and HTTP Sessions", and "Tuning to Reduce Connection_Refused Errors".

As can be seen at this Apache document, the MaxRequestsPerChild directive sets the limit on the number of requests that an individual child server will handle during its life.

Note that mod_proxy and related modules implement a proxy/gateway for Apache HTTP Server, supporting a number of popular protocols as well as several different load balancing algorithms. Third-party modules can add support for additional protocols and load balancing algorithms.

On Oracle Forums I also found a very interesting thread:
The error which you are getting is a common which can be fixed by increasing the "AcceptBackLog" value by 25% until error disappears from weblogic console (Path: Servers => => Configuration tab=> Tuning sub-tab.) and setting the value to ON for "KeepAlive" in the httpd.conf which should take care of your issue.
Topic: Tuning Connection Backlog Buffering
http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E13222_01/wls/docs81/perform/WLSTuning.html#1136287
Search for "KeepAliveEnabled":
http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E12840_01/wls/docs103/plugins/plugin_params.html#wp1143055
Also here is a link which would be helpful to understand some common issue which occurs when using a plug-in and there are solutions:
http://weblogic-wonders.com/weblogic/2010/03/07/plug-in-issues-some-tips/


May transactions be affected because of this?
Certainly yes, but it depends on how your application is developed. A good practice would be to create a bunch of transactions and track them to check if some are missed or not. This Transaction and redelivery in JMS article may be helpful.
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Principal Technical Support Engineer in the Exalogic Enterprise Support Team (EEST).

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