Scaling Instant Messaging communication services: A comparison of blocking and non-blocking techniques

Leigh Griffin, Kieran Ryan, Eamonn De Leastar, Dmitri Botvich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Designing innovative communications services that scale to facilitate potential new usage patterns can pose significant challenges. This is particularly the case if these services are to be delivered over existing protocols and interoperate with legacy services. This work explores design choices for sucha service: large scale message delivery to existing Instant Messaging users. In particular the authors explore message throughput, accuracy and server load for several alternative implementation strategies. These strategies focus on approaches to concurrency, with best practice in current and emerging techniques thoroughly benchmarked. Specifically, a conventional Java Executor approach is compared with a functional approach realised through Scala and its Actors framework. These could be termed "blocking I/O" technology. A third approach has also been measured - a "non-blocking I/O" based on an alternative to Java Virtual Machine approaches - employing Node.js and Javascript. We believe that some of the results are startling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Ambient Computing and Intelligence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Blocking input/output
  • Extensible messaging and presence protocol (XMPP)
  • Instant messaging
  • Non-blocking input/output
  • Scalability


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