2.5.3 Removing Servers

Sometimes you need to remove a server from a cluster. Either because the hardware or the operation system has become defect or simply because you are re-provisioning the data center.

There are two methods of removing a server from a cluster, called soft leave and hard leave. The difference between these two methods lies in a trade-off between how quickly the server can actually be removed, not creating excessive network/IO load and not violating any redundancy guarantees.

Soft Leave

When soft-leaving a server, a flag is added to that server's configuration that tells the cluster not to put any new data onto the server and to start rebalancing the data owned by the leaving server to other nodes.

However, this rebalancing algorithm is designed not to create excessive network or IO/CPU load by rebalancing all the data at once and to never violate the redundancy guarantees.

This means that the data will be moved from the leaving server at a fairly slow pace and you should not actually disconnect the leaving server until all data was moved away from there.

Depending on the amount of data stored on the leaving server, cluster size and available network bandwidth a slow leave operation might take many hours to days to complete.

The slow leave operation is therefore applicable, if you are reprovisioning and should not be used to remove defect hosts.

The general command to perform a soft leave is (assuming you want to remove nodeX)

$ evqlctl cluster-remove-server --server_name "nodeX" --soft

However, you might have to pass configuration options. Assuming you are running zookeeper as the coordination service on localhost:2181 and the cluster name is mycluster, the full command line could look like this:

$ evqlctl cluster-remove-server \
    -C cluster.name=mycluster \
    -C cluster.coordinator=zookeeper \
    -C cluster.zookeeper_hosts=nue01.prod.fnrd.net:2181 \
    --server_name "nodeX" \

Hard Leave

The hard leave operation will immediately remove the server from the cluster and mark all data previously stored on the node as "dead". After this happens, the other (live) servers will detect that some partitions have fewer replicas than they should have and will immediately start to assign new servers to those partitions and start replicating.

This means a hard leave is instant: you can immediately disconnect the server after the hard-leave operation has completed. A hard leave is also applicable for defect hardware (where the machine/server is already dead and is removed from the cluster after-the-fact).

However, a hard leave results in an instant rebalance that might create some network load and will temporarily reduce the number of replicas (i.e. the redundancy level) for some data. So you have to be careful not to execute too many hard leaves at once as this might lead to data loss.

Do not use the hard leave to reprovision the cluster, but only for defect nodes.

The command to perform a hard leave is (assuming you want to remove nodeX)

$ evqlctl cluster-remove-server --server_name "nodeX" --hard