Sunday, March 19, 2006

When to do Object Pooling?

Pooling basically means utilizing your resources better. For example, imagine a fairly large
number of clients utilizing a small number of database or network connections efficiently. By
limiting object access to only the period when the client requires it, you can free resources for
use by other clients. Increasing utilization through pooling usually increases system

You can use pooling to minimize costly initializations. Typical examples include database and
network connections and threads. Such connections often take a significant amount of time to
initialize. You can achieve significant savings by creating these connections once and reusing
them later. Finally, you can pool objects whose initialization is expensive, in terms of time,
memory, or other resources. For example, most containers pool Enterprise JavaBeans to avoid
repeated resource allocation and state initialization.

Examples of objects holding external OS resources:
-database connection pooling,
- socket connection pooling (including HTTP, RMI, CORBA, WS, etc...)
- thread pooling,
- bitmaps, fonts, other graphics objects...

For objects that do not hold external OS resources, but are time-consuming to initialize and are
memory-heavy, a cost benefit analysis needs to be done. What is the cost of pooling
(synchronization, management, GC etc.) vs the benefit (quick access to connection or socket).One very important concern during pooling is the problem of concurrency bottlenecks....when we snchronize access to the pooled resources.

Simple object pooling (which hold no external resources, but only occupy memory) could be a
waste, as the performance improvments in the latest versions of the JVM have tilted this
equation, so we better re-evaluate what we think we know........There was also an old school of thought that pooling reduces the need of GC and hence improves the performance. But with the introduction of the concept of 'generations' to GC algorithms, it is possible that pooled resources would be more difficult to GC as they are put in older generations of objects.

But for external resources the JVM improvements are of no-concern. Whether objects holding
external resources (out of JVM, either OS resources on JVM host machine, or on the other machine) should be pooled or not, does not depend on JVM efficiency, but on their availability, weight and and other costs of holding these resources.

Why stateless session beans pooled ?The EJB spec states that only one thread at the time can execute method code in a statelss session bean instance. So you need to pool them to provide concurrency. The qustion is whether this spec requirement makes sense?
As only reason for this request I can see is that this way you can have local instance state (as
instance fields) in a stateless session bean that is valid during a single method execution. Note
that your method can call other (possibly private) methods of the same bean, so in this scenario
this makes sense.
However, you can get the same behavior by holding a state and logic in a separate POJO and having your session bean playing a facade to that POJO. Probably this request is to simplify programming model for stateless session EJBs, making them completely thread safe .
The EJB standard does not require that Stateless Session EJBs have no internal state (ie.
fields). It simply requires that no conversational state be maintained between the bean and its
clients. A pool of these that are doled out to client threads on a per-call-basis is valuable if
the bean manages some expensive-to-allocate-or-create resource.

From the EJB 2.0 Specification, section 7.5.6: "A container serializes calls to each session bean instance. Most containers will support many instances of a session bean executing concurrently; however, each instance sees only a serialized sequence of method calls. Therefore, a session bean does not have to be coded as reentrant."

Is there some other reason why stateless session beans are pooled?...Something in the
architecture of EJB that forces this decision?

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