Build reliable, traceable, distributed systems with ZeroMQ

Audience level:
Distributed Computing
March 9th 2 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.


We will show how to build simple yet powerful RPC code with ZeroMQ, with very few (if any!) modification to existing code. We will build fan-in and fan-out topologies with ZeroMQ special socket types to implement PUB/SUB patterns and scale up job-processing tasks. Thanks to introspection, the resulting services will be self-documented. Finally, we will show how to implement distributed tracing.


We will show how to leverage ZeroMQ to build a simple yet powerful RPC for Python code. We will focus on simplicity, the goal being to expose almost any Python module or class to network calls – with very few (if any!) modification to existing code.

We will then explain the purpose and show some use-cases for ZeroMQ special socket types (PUSH/PULL, PUB/SUB, ROUTER/DEALER) to build fan-in and fan-out topologies, as well as asynchronous processing (to avoid blocking when doing long-running requests). A by-product is the ability to scale up job-processing tasks with a message queue, which can even be made broker-less (you don’t have to deploy heavy machinery if you don’t need it).

We will also demonstrate how introspection can make development and debugging easier, exposing docstrings, and provideing a few command-line helpers to poke, debug, and experiment directly from the shell.

At the end of the talk (or in a separate talk), we will explain how to implement a tracing framework for distributed RPC. By hooking into the right places, we will show how to get full tracebacks and profiling information; more precisely:

  • how each complex call (involving multiple subcalls) can be accurately traced;
  • how to handle exceptions, and know easily when and where they happened (without checking dozens of log files);
  • which complex calls take too long, and where they spend their time (distributed profiling).

Those guidelines are the result of an on-going development work at dotCloud, and actively used and implemented at the core of our leading Platform-as-a-Service offering.

We don’t expect the audience to be familiar with ZeroMQ or RPC. However, it will certainly help to have basic knowledge of serialization (e.g. pickle) and sockets.