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Server.generalException faultString: java.io.IOException: Connection close:  RSS feed

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New to the forums and new to Web Services so any help appreciated.

The Client of our Web Service is getting the following error intermittently:

faultCode: {http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/}Server.generalException
faultString: java.io.IOException: Connection close: Read failed. Possible end of stream encountered.
faultActor: null
java.io.IOException: Connection close: Read failed. Possible end of stream encountered.

I've read a few posts that explain this error as:

When you execute a Web services client application with session persistence turned on or in a cluster environment, an error might display because the Web service client attempts to use a connection that has been closed by the HTTP server.

Two solutions are also given:
1) set com.ibm.websphere.webservices.http.requestResendEnabled=true.
2) set the MaxSpareThreads property to the same value as the MaxClients property that is located in the httpd.conf file.

We are in the process of trying this but I just had a few questions around why this would happen.

1) What would cause the HTTP server to close the connection?
2) How does the server (on the service provider side) handle requests as they come in. Is each request designated a seperate thread?

And just a general question:
3) When we start our server we see the following in the console
JMXSoapAdapte A ADMC0013I: SOAP connector available at port 8880
Our HTTP port is set to 9080 so what exactly is listening at this port?

BTW, we are using Websphere V5. Our web services functioanlity was developed by an external company, they are gone now and
the handover was not exactly comprehensive.

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