Sharding with vshard | Tarantool
Administration Sharding with vshard

Sharding with vshard

Sharding in Tarantool is implemented in the vshard module. For a quick start with vshard, refer to Creating a sharded cluster.


Starting with the 3.0 version, the recommended way of configuring Tarantool is using a configuration file. The sharding section defines configuration parameters related to sharding. To learn how to configure vshard in code, see Configuration reference.

The vshard module is distributed separately from the main Tarantool package. To install the module, execute the following command:

$ tt rocks install vshard

If you are developing a sharded cluster application, add the vshard module dependency to a *.rockspec file:

dependencies = {
    'vshard == 0.1.26'


The minimum required version of vshard is 0.1.25.

Configuring settings related to sharding might include the following steps:

  1. Configure connection settings to allow instances within a sharded cluster to communicate with each other.
  2. Specify which role each replica set plays in a sharded cluster.
  3. Configure how data is partitioned across shards.
  4. Specify settings related to data rebalancing.

This section describes connection options that enable communication between instances within a sharded cluster. For general information about connections, see the Connections topic.

To allow a router and rebalancer to connect to storages, a user with the sharding role should be used. The example below shows how to grant the sharding role to the storage user:

      password: 'topsecret'
      roles: [replication]
      password: 'secret'
      roles: [sharding]

The sharding role has different privileges depending on a replica set’s sharding role. For replica sets with the storage sharding role, the sharding credential role has the following privileges:

  • All privileges provided by the replication role.
  • Executing* functions.

If a replica set does not have the storage sharding role, the sharding credential role does not have any privileges.

Each replica set in a sharded cluster can have one of three roles:

  • router: a replica set acts as a router.
  • storage: a replica set acts as a storage.
  • rebalancer: a replica set acts as a rebalancer.

You can use the sharding.roles option to assign a specific role to a replica set or group of replica sets. In the example below, all replica sets in the storages group have the storage role while replica sets in the routers group have the router role.

      roles: [storage]
    # ...
      roles: [router]
    # ...

Note that the rebalancer role is optional. If it is not specified, a rebalancer is selected automatically from the master instances of replica sets. To specify the rebalancer manually or turn it off, use the sharding.rebalancer_mode option.

This section describes configuration settings related to data partitioning. Learn how to define spaces to be sharded in Data definition.

To define the total number of buckets in a cluster, configure the sharding.bucket_count option at the global level. In the example below, sharding.bucket_count is set to 1000:

  bucket_count: 1000

sharding.bucket_count should be several orders of magnitude larger than the potential number of cluster nodes considering potential scaling out in the future.

If the estimated number of nodes in a cluster is N, then the data set should be divided into 100N or even 1000N buckets depending on the planned scaling out. This number is greater than the potential number of cluster nodes in the system being designed.

Keep in mind that too many buckets can cause a need to allocate more memory to store routing information. On the other hand, an insufficient number of buckets can lead to decreased granularity when rebalancing.

A replica set weight defines the storage capacity of the replica set: the larger the weight, the more buckets the replica set can store. You can configure a replica set weight using the sharding.weight option. This option can be used to store the prevailing amount of data on a replica set with more memory space. You can also assign a zero weight to a replica set to initiate migration of its buckets to the remaining cluster nodes.

In the example below, the storage-a replica set can store twice as much data as storage-b:

# ...
      weight: 2
    # ...
      weight: 1
    # ...

There is an etalon number of buckets for a replica set. (Etalon in this context means “ideal”.) If there is no deviation from this number in the whole replica set, then the buckets are distributed evenly.

The etalon number is calculated automatically considering the number of buckets in the cluster and the weights of the replica sets.

Rebalancing starts if the disbalance threshold of a replica set exceeds the disbalance threshold specified in the configuration (the sharding.rebalancer_disbalance_threshold option).

The disbalance threshold of a replica set is calculated as follows:

|etalon_bucket_number - real_bucket_number| / etalon_bucket_number * 100

For example, a cluster is configured as follows:

In this case, the etalon numbers of buckets for the replica sets are:

  • 1st replica set – 1000.
  • 2nd replica set – 500.
  • 3rd replica set – 1500.

You can set a replica set weight to zero to initiate migration of its buckets to the remaining cluster nodes. You can also add a new replica set with a non-zero weight to initiate migration of the buckets from the existing replica sets.

When a new shard is added, a configuration should be reloaded on each instance to migrate buckets to a new shard:

  • If a centralized configuration storage is used, Tarantool reloads a changed configuration automatically.
  • If a local configuration file is used, you need to reload a configuration on all the routers first and then on all the storages.

Originally, vshard had quite a simple rebalancer – one process on one node that calculated routes that should send buckets, how many, and to whom. The nodes applied these routes one by one sequentially.

Unfortunately, such a simple schema worked not fast enough, especially for Vinyl, where costs of reading disk were comparable with network costs. In fact, with Vinyl the rebalancer routes applier was sleeping most of the time.

Now each node can send multiple buckets in parallel in a round-robin manner to multiple destinations, or to just one.

To set the degree of parallelism, use the sharding.rebalancer_max_sending option:

  rebalancer_max_sending: 5


Specifying sharding.rebalancer_max_sending = N probably won’t give N times speed up. It depends on network, disk, number of other fibers in the system.

You have 10 replica sets and a new one is added. Now all the 10 replica sets will try to send buckets to the new one.

Assume that each replica set can send up to 5 buckets at once. In that case, the new replica set will experience a rather big load of 50 buckets being downloaded at once. If the node needs to do some other work, perhaps such a big load is undesirable. Also too, many parallel buckets can cause timeouts in the rebalancing process itself.

To fix the problem, you can set a lower value for rebalancer_max_sending for old replica sets, or decrease rebalancer_max_receiving for the new one. In the latter case, some workers on old nodes will be throttled, and you will see that in the logs.

rebalancer_max_sending is important, if you have restrictions for the maximum number of buckets that can be read only at once in the cluster. As you remember, when a bucket is being sent, it does not accept new write requests.

You have 100000 buckets and each bucket stores ~0.001% of your data. The cluster has 10 replica sets. And you never can afford > 0.1% of data locked on write. Then you should not set rebalancer_max_sending > 10 on these nodes. It guarantees that the rebalancer won’t send more than 100 buckets at once in the whole cluster.

If rebalancer_max_sending is too high and rebalancer_max_receiving is too low, then some buckets will try to get relocated – and will fail with that. This problem will consume network resources and time. It is important to configure these parameters to not conflict with each other.

A replica set lock (sharding.lock) makes a replica set invisible to the rebalancer: a locked replica set can neither receive new buckets nor migrate its own buckets.

A bucket pin ( blocks a specific bucket from migrating: a pinned bucket stays on the replica set to which it is pinned until it is unpinned.

Pinning all replica set buckets is not equivalent to locking a replica set. Even if you pin all buckets, a non-locked replica set can still receive new buckets.

A replica set lock is helpful, for example, to separate a replica set from production replica sets for testing, or to preserve some application metadata that must not be sharded for a while. A bucket pin is used for similar cases but in a smaller scope.

By both locking a replica set and pinning all buckets, you can isolate an entire replica set.

Locked replica sets and pinned buckets affect the rebalancing algorithm as the rebalancer must ignore locked replica sets and consider pinned buckets when attempting to reach the best possible balance.

The issue is not trivial as a user can pin too many buckets to a replica set, so a perfect balance becomes unreachable. For example, consider the following cluster (assume all replica set weights are equal to 1).

The initial configuration:

rs1: bucket_count = 150
rs2: bucket_count = 150, pinned_count = 120

Adding a new replica set:

rs1: bucket_count = 150
rs2: bucket_count = 150, pinned_count = 120
rs3: bucket_count = 0

The perfect balance would be 100 - 100 - 100, which is impossible since the rs2 replica set has 120 pinned buckets. The best possible balance here is the following:

rs1: bucket_count = 90
rs2: bucket_count = 120, pinned_count 120
rs3: bucket_count = 90

The rebalancer moved as many buckets as possible from rs2 to decrease the disbalance. At the same time, it respected equal weights of rs1 and rs3.

The algorithms for implementing locks and pins are completely different, although they look similar in terms of functionality.

Locked replica sets do not participate in rebalancing. This means that even if the actual total number of buckets is not equal to the etalon number, the disbalance cannot be fixed due to the lock. When the rebalancer detects that one of the replica sets is locked, it recalculates the etalon number of buckets of the non-locked replica sets as if the locked replica set and its buckets did not exist at all.

Rebalancing replica sets with pinned buckets requires a more complex algorithm. Here pinned_count[o] is the number of pinned buckets, and etalon_count is the etalon number of buckets for a replica set:

  1. The rebalancer calculates the etalon number of buckets as if all buckets were not pinned. Then the rebalancer checks each replica set and compares the etalon number of buckets with the number of pinned buckets in a replica set. If pinned_count < etalon_count, non-locked replica sets (at this point all locked replica sets already are filtered out) with pinned buckets can receive new buckets.
  2. If pinned_count > etalon_count, the disbalance cannot be fixed, as the rebalancer cannot move pinned buckets out of this replica set. In such a case the etalon number is updated and set equal to the number of pinned buckets. The replica sets with pinned_count > etalon_count are not processed by the rebalancer, and the number of pinned buckets is subtracted from the total number of buckets. The rebalancer tries to move out as many buckets as possible from such replica sets.
  3. This procedure is restarted from step 1 for replica sets with pinned_count >= etalon_count until pinned_count <= etalon_count on all replica sets. The procedure is also restarted when the total number of buckets is changed.

Here is the pseudocode for the algorithm:

function cluster_calculate_perfect_balance(replicasets, bucket_count)
        -- rebalance the buckets using weights of the still viable replica sets --

cluster = <all of the non-locked replica sets>;
bucket_count = <the total number of buckets in the cluster>;
can_reach_balance = false
while not can_reach_balance do
        can_reach_balance = true
        cluster_calculate_perfect_balance(cluster, bucket_count);
        foreach replicaset in cluster do
                if replicaset.perfect_bucket_count <
                   replicaset.pinned_bucket_count then
                        can_reach_balance = false
                        bucket_count -= replicaset.pinned_bucket_count;
                        replicaset.perfect_bucket_count =
cluster_calculate_perfect_balance(cluster, bucket_count);

The complexity of the algorithm is O(N^2), where N is the number of replica sets. On each step, the algorithm either finishes the calculation, or ignores at least one new replica set overloaded with the pinned buckets, and updates the etalon number of buckets on other replica sets.

Bucket ref is an in-memory counter that is similar to the bucket pin, but has the following differences:

  1. Bucket ref is not persistent. Refs are intended for forbidding bucket transfer during request execution, but on restart all requests are dropped.

  2. There are two types of bucket refs: read-only (RO) and read-write (RW).

    If a bucket has RW refs, it cannot be moved. However, when the rebalancer needs it to be sent, it locks the bucket for new write requests, waits until all current requests are finished, and then sends the bucket.

    If a bucket has RO refs, it can be sent, but cannot be dropped. Such a bucket can even enter GARBAGE or SENT state, but its data is kept until the last reader is gone.

    A single bucket can have both RO and RW refs.

  3. Bucket ref is countable.

The methods are called automatically when or is used. For raw API like r = vshard.router.route() r:callro/callrw, you should explicitly call the bucket_ref() method inside the function. Also, make sure that you call bucket_unref() after bucket_ref(), otherwise the bucket cannot be moved from the storage until the instance is restarted.

To see how many refs there are for a bucket, use[bucket_id]) (the bucket_id parameter is optional).

For example:
- 1:
    status: active
    ref_rw: 1
    ref_ro: 1
    ro_lock: true
    rw_lock: true
    id: 1

Sharded spaces should be defined in a storage application inside box.once() and should have a field with bucket id values. This field should meet the following requirements:

  • The field’s data type can be unsigned, number, or integer.
  • The field must be non-nullable.
  • The field must be indexed by the shard_index. The default name for this index is bucket_id.

In the example below, the bands space has the bucket_id field, which is used to partition a dataset across different storage instances:

box.once('bands', function()
    box.schema.create_space('bands', {
        format = {
            { name = 'id', type = 'unsigned' },
            { name = 'bucket_id', type = 'unsigned' },
            { name = 'band_name', type = 'string' },
            { name = 'year', type = 'unsigned' }
        if_not_exists = true
    })'id', { parts = { 'id' }, if_not_exists = true })'bucket_id', { parts = { 'bucket_id' }, unique = false, if_not_exists = true })

Example on GitHub: sharded_cluster

All DML operations with data should be performed via a router using the functions, such as vshard.router.callrw() or vshard.router.callro(). For example, a storage application has the insert_band function used to insert new tuples:

function insert_band(id, bucket_id, band_name, year){ id, bucket_id, band_name, year })

In a router application, you can define the put function that specifies how a router selects the storage to write data:

function put(id, band_name, year)
    local bucket_id = vshard.router.bucket_id_mpcrc32({ id })
    vshard.router.callrw(bucket_id, 'insert_band', { id, bucket_id, band_name, year })

Learn more at Processing requests.

If a replica set master fails, it is recommended to:

  1. Switch one of the replicas into the master mode. This allows the new master to process all the incoming requests.
  2. Update the configuration of all the cluster members. This forwards all the requests to the new master.

In case a whole replica set fails, some part of the dataset becomes inaccessible. Meanwhile, the router tries to reconnect to the master of the failed replica set. This way, once the replica set is up and running again, the cluster is automatically restored.

To perform a scheduled downtime of a replica set master, it is recommended to:

  1. Update the configuration to use another instance as a master.
  2. Reload the configuration on all the instances. All the requests then are forwarded to a new master.

# Shut down the old master.

To perform a scheduled downtime of a replica set, it is recommended to:

  1. Migrate all the buckets to the other cluster storages. You can do this by assigning a zero weight to a replica set to initiate migration of its buckets to the remaining cluster nodes.
  2. Update the configuration of all the nodes.
  3. Shut down the replica set.

Searches for buckets, buckets recovery, and buckets rebalancing are performed automatically and do not require manual intervention.

Technically, there are multiple fibers responsible for different types of operations:

  • a discovery fiber on the router searches for buckets in the background
  • a failover fiber on the router maintains replica connections
  • a garbage collector fiber on each master storage removes the contents of buckets that were moved
  • a bucket recovery fiber on each master storage recovers buckets in the SENDING and RECEIVING states in case of reboot
  • a rebalancer on a single master storage among all replica sets executes the rebalancing process.

See the Rebalancing process and Migration of buckets sections for details.

A garbage collector fiber runs in the background on the master storages of each replica set. It starts deleting the contents of the bucket in the GARBAGE state part by part. Once the bucket is empty, its record is deleted from the _bucket system space.

A bucket recovery fiber runs on the master storages. It helps to recover buckets in the SENDING and RECEIVING states in case of reboot.

Buckets in the SENDING state are recovered as follows:

  1. The system first searches for buckets in the SENDING state.
  2. If such a bucket is found, the system sends a request to the destination replica set.
  3. If the bucket on the destination replica set is ACTIVE, the original bucket is deleted from the source node.

Buckets in the RECEIVING state are deleted without extra checks.

A failover fiber runs on every router. If a master of a replica set becomes unavailable, the failover fiber redirects read requests to the replicas. Write requests are rejected with an error until the master becomes available.

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