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Updated:September 14, 2018
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This document describes the Voice Extensible Markup Language (VXML) / Customer Voice Portal (CVP) Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) cache for media files.
Cisco recommends that you have knowledge of these topics:
This document is not restricted to specific software and hardware versions.
The information in this document was created from the devices in a specific lab environment. All of the devices used in this document started with a cleared (default) configuration. If your network is live, make sure that you understand the potential impact of any command.
In HTTP Client Cache, there are two types of cache involved in storing media files:
The IVR Media Player cache and
The HTTP Client cache
The server cache setting overwrites the HTTP client settings, these parameters are sent from the server either via http message headers, or through vxml application scripts.
Gateway Prompt Caching Considerations
Step 1. When audio prompts are stored on an HTTP media server, proper gateway prompt caching methods are necessary in order to optimize both the performance of the gateway and network bandwidth consumption. Gateway performance decreases by approximately 35-40% if caching is disabled entirely.
In order to configure caching on the gateway, set these on the gateway:
Note: The http client cache memory file represents the largest size prompt file (in Kbytes) that can be cached. In general, customer prompts larger than 500K (about a minute in length) must be broken up into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to facilitate the loading and caching. For example, queue music could be a repetitive loop of a 30 second prompt. Also note that because the prompts are streamed, the prompt do not cache unless the whole prompt is played. Therefore, it is recommended that you make prompts a manageable size.
Step 2. Synchronize the datetime between the gateway and the HTTP media server.
Note: Synchronization does not have to be exact, but at least within a minute or two. Times that are not synchronized can cause prompts to never refresh or they will refresh with every call, both of which are undesirable behaviors.
Step 3. On the media server, set the content expiration (for example 15 minutes).
Note: In IIS, this is done under the HTTP Header tab. The gateway prompt is refreshed after this time period. The period chosen must reflect how often re-record prompts and how long you are willing to wait to have the new prompt load after modification.
Step 5. Navigate to the .wav file that you want to modify.
Step 6. Then, Right click > Properties > HTTP Headers
Step 7. Enable Content Expiration.
How to Determine if Gateway is Caching Properly
In order to determine if you have properly configured gateway caching, follow this:
The IIS log on the media server records every time a client requests a prompt. If caching is set up correctly, these requests appear approximately every X minutes (X is whatever was defined as the refresh interval in Step 3.) for any particular prompt. The log is located at: C:\WINNT\system32\LogFiles\W3SVC1\ex*
Run show http client cache on the gateway. The Fresh Time column must equal the refresh time period set on the HTTP media server.
For example, if the refresh period was set to 15 minutes, this must say 900 seconds. The Age column shows how many seconds have passed since the prompt was last refreshed. In general, this number is less than the Fresh Time. However, if no call has ever accessed the prompt recently, this number can be greater than the fresh time. Prompts are only refreshed when triggered by a call and the prompt Fresh Time has expired. If the Fresh Time is a very high value, the only way to remove the prompt from cache (other than the hidden commands) is to reload the gateway.
It's much easier just to add the header as real HTTP Header via IIS.
There are several variables that can affect the FreshTime of a file, such as: http message headers from the server, and cache refresh value configured via the CLI, etc.
So how do you know which value a file uses for its FreshTime? The FreshTime of a file is determined in these precedence:
1. When a file is downloaded from the http server, if one of the http message headers contains this:
Cache-Control: max-age = <value in seconds>
Then the <value in seconds> is used as the FreshTime for this file.
2. If (1) is not present, but these two headers are included in the http message:
Expires: <expiration date time>
Date: <Current date time>
Then, the difference <expiration date time> - <Current date time> is used as the FreshTime for this file.
3. The HTTP/1.1 spec, RFC 2616 (HTTP), recommends that either of the http message headers as described in (1) or (2) be present. If the server fails to send both (1) or (2) in its http response, then you can take 10% of the difference between Date and Last-Modified from the message headers:
Last-Modified: <last-modified date time>
Date: <Current date time>
So, the FreshTime for this file is calculated as:
FreshTime = 10% x ((Last-Modified) - (Date))
4. Finally, this is when the cache refresh config CLI comes into play. The CLI allows the user to assign a heuristic FreshTime value to the files as a provisional value in case that none of the above (1)-(3) message headers are present.
c5400-02(config)#http client cache refresh ? <1-864000> Time value in seconds
The default refresh value is 86400 seconds (24 hours).
Note: The configured http client cache refresh has no effect on files when any of the message headers (1) - (3) are present.
Note: This CLI, if in effect, is not retroactive. That is, the newly configured refresh value only applies to new incoming files. It has no effect on the entries already in the cache.
Remove Stale Cached Entries
Note: The router never refreshes any stale files on its own automatically.
Stale files are only refreshed on an as-needed basis. Why would the router spend its valuable CPU cycles updating the files in the cache without knowing if or when those files are going to be used, while the CPU is needed for other urgent services?
This means a stale cached entry can stay in the cache for a long time until it is removed to make room for either a fresh copy of the same file, or for another file that just needs its memory space in the cache. Sometimes a stale cached entry can still be usable, if its age has not exceeded the MaxStale value specified by the application.
In a nutshell, whether or not a cached entry is stale, or still usable, can be calculated with this simple comparisons:
- file is fresh if FreshTime > Age
- file is stale but still usable if (FreshTime + MaxStale) > Age
- file is stale and not usable if (FreshTime + MaxStale) <= Age
Indicates that the client is willing to accept a response that has exceeded its expiration time. If max-stale is assigned a value, then the client is willing to accept a response that has exceeded its expiration time by no more than the specified number of seconds. If no value is assigned to max-stale, then the client is willing to accept a stale response of any age.
As previously mentioned, a stale cached entry is removed by its owner on an as-needed basis, when:
The cached entry becomes stale; and
Its ref count is zero (0), i.e., no one is using this cached entry; and
Its memory space is needed to make room for other entries
This means the http client and IVR Media Player must manage and control their cached entries in this way in non-streaming and streaming modes, respectively. What if the http client needs to clean up some stale entries to regain space in the cache memory pool but it is not the owner of those files? This becomes the responsibility of the http client cache background ager.
The http client cache background ager wakes up every 5 minutes. If the total memory used for the cached entries exceeds 70% threshold of the configured cache memory pool size, the ager will walk through every cached entry. If the entry is still fresh, it will leave it alone. If the entry is stale and has no reference to it, i.e., ref count = 0, the http client deletes the entry on its own because it is the legitimate owner of that entry. If the stale entry has a reference count 1 on it and it has no parent or child linked to it, meaning the file is not in the middle of refresh download, the http client calls back to notify the Media Player to release this stale entry.
Audio-Prompt Load Command
Sometimes, it can be desirable or necessary to manually download an audio file into the router. By now we are already told that the router does not automatically go to the http server to refresh stale cached entries. Those entries are refreshed only when they are needed. A manual download can overcome this issue.
Another scenario a manual download may be useful is to preload a large audio prompt in non-streaming mode. This can be done before the first call is received so that the caller does not experience any delay of prompt loading.
In order to manually download a particular audio file, run these CLI command:
audio-prompt load <url>
The <url> is where the audio file resides on the server. Of course, the http client cache is expected to be properly configured to save this file in the cache.
Note: If the <url> is an active prompt, i.e., currently in play, this CLI does not take effect.
Also, ensure that the datetime between the gateway and the HTTP media server are synchronized. This is a must.
Warning: Do not use clear http client cache in the VXML GW. If this command is invoked on very loaded/active VXML GW, it is known to cause problems, memory corruption and crashes. Basically, use of clear ip http client cache all is not recommended. What it does is it refreshes all the entries from the cache, and what happens is it creates and deletes nodes from the cache linked-list which causes some problems. The command is in process of being removed from Cisco IOS®. The recommended command is set http client cache stale, what this command does is it just refreshes the newly changed part of the cache.