Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Machine Learning , @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Understanding Application Performance on the Network | Part 6

The Nagle Algorithm

In Part V, we discussed processing delays caused by "slow" client and server nodes. In Part VI, we'll discuss the Nagle algorithm, a behavior that can have a devastating impact on performance and, in many ways, appear to be a processing delay.

Common TCP ACK Timing
Beyond being important for (reasonably) accurate packet flow diagrams, understanding "normal" TCP ACK timing can help in the effective diagnosis of certain types of performance problems. These include those introduced by the Nagle algorithm, which we will discuss here, and application windowing, to be discussed in Part VII.

A slightly simplified but useful rule of thumb is as follows:

A receiving node will:

  • Acknowledge every second packet immediately
  • Acknowledge a single packet if the Delayed ACK timer expires before a second packet arrives

The Delayed ACK timer typically defaults to 200 milliseconds, at least on Microsoft platforms.

While this behavior is quite common, you may encounter differences; for example, changing the ACK frequency to every packet is an approach to circumventing certain problems, while shorter Delayed ACK timers may be observed in non-Microsoft environments.

ACK every second packet, or a single packet after the Delayed ACK timer expires

The Nagle Algorithm
The Nagle algorithm was designed to help reduce network overhead by delaying the transmission of a small packet (i.e., <MSS) until all previously transmitted packets have been acknowledged. The goal was to prevent a node from transmitting many small packets if the application delivers data to the socket rather slowly. The usefulness of the algorithm and the frequency with which it is applied have both diminished dramatically; however, you may still encounter it, as the option still exists in most environments.

To begin to understand the impact of the Nagle algorithm, consider a request or reply flow; chances are, the size of the payload in the flow is not an exact multiple of the MSS. Therefore, the last packet of the flow will be smaller than the MSS. With Nagle enabled, this last packet will not be transmitted until the previous (penultimate) packet has been acknowledged. In the best case, the penultimate packet represents an even-numbered packet in the flow, triggering an immediate acknowledgement from the receiver which in turn "releases" the final small packet. In this case, the Nagle penalty is equal to one network round-trip for the entire flow. Should the penultimate packet be an odd-numbered packet, it will not be acknowledged by the receiver until the Delayed ACK timer expires; the penalty becomes one network round-trip plus approximately 200 milliseconds.

The HTTP reply includes two data packets; the last packet is not sent until the earlier packet has been acknowledged. The Delayed ACK timer adds about 200 milliseconds to the transmission of the reply.

For more network tips click here for the full article

More Stories By Gary Kaiser

Gary Kaiser is a Subject Matter Expert in Network Performance Analytics at Dynatrace, responsible for DC RUM’s technical marketing programs. He is a co-inventor of multiple performance analysis features, and continues to champion the value of network performance analytics. He is the author of Network Application Performance Analysis (WalrusInk, 2014).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


CloudEXPO Stories
With more than 30 Kubernetes solutions in the marketplace, it's tempting to think Kubernetes and the vendor ecosystem has solved the problem of operationalizing containers at scale or of automatically managing the elasticity of the underlying infrastructure that these solutions need to be truly scalable. Far from it. There are at least six major pain points that companies experience when they try to deploy and run Kubernetes in their complex environments. In this presentation, the speaker will detail these pain points and explain how cloud can address them.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. SD-WAN helps enterprises to take advantage of the exploding landscape of cloud applications and services, due to its unique capability to support all things cloud related.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and GM, discussed how clients in this new era of innovation can apply data, technology, plus human ingenuity to springboard to advance new business value and opportunities.