Web Server 7 Request Limiting Revisited

Coincidentally last week I heard a couple related queries about check-request-limits from different customers. I haven't covered that feature in a while so it's a good time to revisit it for a bit.

To review, Web Server 7 has a feature (function) called check-request-limits which can be used to monitor and limit the request rate and/or concurrency of request which match some criteria. It can be used to address denial of service attacks as well as just to limit request rates to some objects or from some clients for other reasons (for example to reduce bandwidth or cpu usage).

I usually refer to 'matching requests' when speaking of this capability. Matching what? Probably the most common use case is to match the client IP address. This is useful when you wish to limit request rates coming from a given client machine. Here's a basic example of that scenario:

PathCheck fn="check-request-limits" max-rps="10" monitor="$ip"

The common theme to both customer requests I heard last week was whether it is possible to limit requests based on something other than the client IP?

Yes, certainly!

The monitor parameter above is set to "$ip" which expands to the client IP address but you can set it to anything that you prefer. In my introduction to check-request-limits article I gave examples of both "$ip" and "$uri" (and even both combined). You're not restricted to only these though, you can use any of the server variables available in WS7 as the monitor value.

You can also construct more complicated scenarios using the If expressions of Web Server 7. I gave a few examples of that in this article on check-request-limits.

To give a couple more examples, let's say your web server is behind a proxy and this the client $ip is always the same (the proxy IP). Clearly monitoring the $ip value isn't terribly useful in that case. Depending on how your application works you may be able to find other useful entries to monitor. For example if the requests contain a custom header named "Usernum" which contains a unique user number, you could monitor that:

PathCheck fn="check-request-limits" max-rps="1" monitor="$headers{'usernum'}"

Or maybe there's a cookie named customer which can serve as the monitor key:

PathCheck fn="check-request-limits" max-rps="1" monitor="$cookie{'customer'}" 

These two are made-up examples, you'll need to pick a monitor value which is suitable for your application. But I hope these ideas will help you get started.

By the way check-request-limits can also be used to limit concurrency.


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