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Web Farms: Identifying the Node that Served a Request.

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15 Feb 2024CPOL2 min read 1.6K   3  
Use an IIS module to identify the node that served a request in a web farm environment.
A how-to that will enable you to add a custom HTTP response header to identify the node that served the request.


Recently, I've been migrating sites and services from a single server to a load-balanced high-availability environment with multiple nodes. On a few occasions, things weren't quite right across all the nodes in the environment so I had to find a way of identifying which nodes were not playing nicely.


"Why don't you just add a custom response header via the web.config file?", I hear you ask.

The trouble with that approach in this situation is that the web applications and services are replicated using Microsoft DFS. So if I edit an application's web.config file on one node, the change is propagated across all nodes and each node would produce the exact same response header. Hmmm...

Enter the unsung hero: the humble IIS module.

An IIS module allows you to inject functionality into the IIS request/response pipeline. So I created one that would look up a system/machine environment variable and add it to the response headers with the name of "ServedBy", e.g.: ServedBy: node1

I know, not super creative. But it works.

Using the IIS Module

Add the ServedByHeader.dll file to the bin directory of the site/service (Download

Register the module in the web.config file, like so:

        <add name="ServedByHeader" type="COGWare.ServedByHeader" />

Now for the hardest part: add a system/machine environment variable called "NodeName" and give it an appropriate value - node1, node2, dev1, dev2, etc. But please don't let my lack of creativity stifle your elite naming prowess!

Image 1

It is important to note that setting the environment variable via the GUI may require a restart before it becomes available - not ideal when your server is chasing 99.99% uptime.

Setting environment variables via the command prompt is quite simple and does not require a reboot of the server, e.g.:

SET NodeName=Node1

You can test the newly created environment variable by executing this at the command prompt:

ECHO %NodeName%

Any requests that are handled by managed code will now sport the ServedBy response header, e.g.:

Image 2

Image 3

Source Code

For those wise souls that don't just go downloading DLLs willy-nilly off the internet, here is the source code.

Thanks for reading!


  • 16th February, 2024: Initial version


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Software Developer (Senior)
South Africa South Africa
I'm a software developer that enjoys a great many things. Developing and integrating with API's is one of them. I live on a smallholding in the beautiful KZN midlands in South Africa with my lovely wife, 2 dogs, some chickens, a few sheep, a cat with half a tail, and two feral children.
I may be the world's shoddiest example of an "IT guy": I love being outdoors, exercising, gardening, "farming" (I really cannot call myself a farmer - keeping some animals alive does not make one a farmer), riding motorbikes and generally doing things that I am far too old for.

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