Inter-node and CLI Traffic Compression

VMware RabbitMQ supports the Intra-cluster Compression feature.

RabbitMQ nodes communicate with their peers and CLI tools using dedicated TCP connections, optionally protected with TLS.

In heavily loaded system, inter-node traffic flows can be substantial, approaching or even saturating the bandwidth provided by network links. Compression of this traffic helps reduce the load on bandwidth available, up to 96%, depending on the nature of the workload.

Intra-cluster Compression is available in VMware RabbitMQ only, not in the standard FOSS RabbitMQ. Learn more about VMware RabbitMQ

How to use it

Intra-cluster Compression is enabled out-of-the-box in VMware RabbitMQ: if two RabbitMQ nodes form a cluster, they will try to use compression.

For the data to be compressed, the following conditions MUST be met:

  • Both RabbitMQ nodes must support inter-node traffic compression. In other words, both nodes must run VMware Tanzu RabbitMQ. The open source edition does not support this feature.

  • Both nodes must share at least one compression algorithm in common.

If the conditions are not met, nodes will communicate as they otherwise would without traffic compression. This means that RabbitMQ for VMware Tanzu remains compatible with the open source RabbitMQ edition. It is therefore possible to switch from one edition to the other without stopping the entire cluster.

How it works

The first time a RabbitMQ node tries to contact another node, it will do the following things:

  1. After the TCP connection is open, compression will not be used at first.

  2. The node initiating the connection detects if the remote peer has Erlang distribution compression support. If it does not, then the connection remains uncompressed and following steps are skipped.

  3. Once the node is sure the remote node supports compression, it negotiates the compression algorithm to use. To start this process, it sends a message to the remote node and specifies the list of algorithms it supports.

  4. The remote node compares the received list of algorithms to its own list. The remote node's list is ordered by preference. The selected algorithm is the first one in the remote node's list which is also supported by the initiating node. If there is no algorithm in common, the connection remains uncompressed and following steps are skipped.

  5. Once an algorithm is selected, the remote node sends a message back to the initiating node to inform it of its decision.

  6. The two nodes synchronize to start compression on the existing TCP connection.


  • Inter-node traffic compression and TLS can't be used at the same time: they are mutually exclusive at the moment.

    This is because RabbitMQ node is configured with a specific distribution module provided with VMware Tanzu RabbitMQ, plus a small add-on to deal with the algorithm negotiation. The distribution module is a replacement to the default module (inet_tcp_dist) or the TLS-enabled one (inet_tls_dist). It is impossible to use two modules simultaneously.

  • In VMware Tanzu RabbitMQ, the compression code relies on native libraries. Only Linux/amd64 is supported in the existing packaging. We might compile for more platforms in the future.

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