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AppFabric’s AutoStart feature: great news for BizTalk

Any of you who have been writing WCF front-ends for BizTalk services will know
about one of ASP.NET’s failings: first request latency. A service (or application)
hosted in IIS doesn’t start-up and JIT itself fully until the first request is received.

And if low-latency is important to you, this isn’t acceptable, as the first request
can incur delays ranging anywhere from 2 secs to 60 secs!

There are many common ways to decrease the impact of this:

  • Changing the application pool worker process idle time-out and recycling
  • Setting specific time when the application pool can recycle
  • Writing a separate service that “pings” the service to start it up
  • Using MOM’s ability to “ping” services to start a service

None of the above options is bullet-proof – all they can do is reduce the chances
of a request hitting this problem.

But now we have IIS 7.5 and the Web Application auto-start functionality – which allows
applications to automatically start and be compiled when their application pool is
started/recycled: all before the first request is received.

And AppFabric builds on this: AppFabric extends this functionality to individual WCF
services hosted in an application.

So we can now configure a WCF service to auto-start when the app pool is started/recycled
– meaning that the first request to the service will have the same latency as any
of the other subsequent requests.

The downside is that this only works with IIS 7.5 – meaning Windows 7 or Windows Server
2008 R2.

More info can be found here:

And here:

Info on configuring auto-start can be found here:

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