Choosing timeout values for external service calls isn’t easy. There’s usually black magic involved and sometimes we’re just guessing. This post details the approach we used at Bluestem to choose better values and make our systems more resilient to performance issues and outages in our backend services.

Where we were

Bluestem has transitioned from a monolithic web stack to microservices over the past two years. We use Hystrix to wrap our calls to external services, but we didn’t put much thought into tuning its parameters. We usually set timeouts in one of two ways:

  1. Copy/paste the nearest Hystrix settings from another service
  2. Set the timeouts to be super high so circuits never…


Kevan Ahlquist

Senior Software Development Engineer @ Amazon. Trumpet player, drum corps enthusiast.

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