9.2.1 Table Partitioning

v0.8 - August, 2016                                Paul Asmuth <paul@eventql.io>

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Design Overview
    2.1 Metadata File
  3. Partition Lifecyle
  4. Partition Assignment
    4.1 Partition Split
    4.2 Server Join
    4.3 Server Leave
  5. Metadata File
    5.1 Create Metadata File
    5.1 Change Metadata File
    5.2 Join Metadata Server
    5.3 Remove Metadata Server
    5.4 Background Metadata Replication
  6. Implementation Details
    6.1 Change Notification
    6.2 Placement IDs
  7. Alternatives Considered
    7.1 Consistent Hashing
  8. Code Locations

1. Preface

  The EventQL partioning design is based on the BigTable partitioning scheme
  [link to paper] with a few major differences.

2. Design Overview

  We define a table's keyspace as the range [begin, end] of all valid
  partioning key values.

  For numeric keys, the keyspace could be the interval [UINT64_MIN, UINT64_MAX].
  For string keys, the keyspace is the interval ["", "") where an empty string
  in the begin or end position represents the highest or lowest permissible
  value respectively.

  The table's keyspace is split into a number of non-overlapping ranges called
  "partitions". Each partition is defined by the it's start and end position in
  the keyspace, i.e. the lowest and highest key that will still be contained
  in the partition. The mapping of partitions for a table is recorded in a
  METADATA file.

  Each partition is simultaneously served by N servers where N is called the
  replication factor.

  From all replicas of a partition, we elect one as the leader and designate the
  other replicas as followers. All partitions can accept read operations for the
  data (allthough the leader will always have the most recent snapshot) but only
  the leader accepts writes.

  How exactly the rows are stored on disks is not part of this design document.
  For this document, we assume that a partition is stored as a single unit on

  Similarily, the exact replication semantics (i.e. how a copy of a partition on
  one node is transferred to another node) is also not in the scope of this
  document; we will assume there exists a mechanism that can synchronize two
  copies of the same partition.

2.1 Metadata File

  All partitioning information is stored in a METADATA file. The metadata file
  consists mainly of a number of entries for each partition in the table. Each
  entry in the metadata file contains these pieces of information:

     - begin - the begin of the partition in the keyspace (i.e. the first contained key)
     - partition_id - a unique/random id for this partition
     - servers - the list of servers that serve this partition
     - servers_joining - the list of servers that are joining into this partition
     - servers_leaving - the list of servers that are leaving from the partition
     - split_point
     - split_partition_id_low
     - split_partition_id_high
     - split_servers_low
     - split_servers_high

  The metadata file supports transactional (compare-and-swap) updates.

3. Partition Lifecyle

  Each replica of a partition (i.e. each copy of a partition that is local to
  a specific server) has a defined lifetime separated into four stages:

    - LOAD -- the local server is joining the replica list for the partition.
      it doesn't take part in leader election and does not server any read
      requests yet. from the LOAD state, we can transition to the LIVE or
      UNLOAD state

    - LIVE -- the local server is a live serving replica for this partition. it
      servers both writes and reads and takes part in the leader election. from
      the LIVE state we can transition to the UNLOAD state only

    - UNLOAD -- the local server has either left the replica list for the
      partition or the partition has split and does not exist anymore. the local
      server does not server reads or writes and does not take part in leader
      election. we transition to the UNLOAD_FINAL stage once we have pushed
      out all unreplicated rows to all new leaders

    - UNLOAD_FINAL -- this state is the final state and allows the server to
      delete the partitions data from disk. from the unload final state we can
      not transition back to any other state

  Partition replication and lifecyle is a simple abstract algorithm:

      - For each partition P:
        - For each server which should store the data in partition P
           (considering splits and joining servers)
          - Check if we have already pushed all data to this server
            - If not push the unreplicated data to the server
        - If all servers have acknowledged all data and we are in the
          UNLOAD_FINAL state drop the partition

      - On every change in the server list, restart the replication for this
        affected partition

      - On every insert, restart the replication for the affected partition

  In practice the algorithm is a bit more involved and documented in the
  replication design document.

4. Partition Assignment

  Every table starts out with a single partition covering the whole keyspace (from
  negative to positive infinity) that is then further subdivded (splitted) to
  create more partitions.

  When a new table is created, we add this single partition (covering the whole
  key range) and a list of servers for the partition to the metadata file.

4.1 Partition Split

  Only the leading server for the partition may initiate a split. To split a
  parent partition A into B1 and B1, the splitting server decides on the split
  point and the initial server assignment for the new partitions B1 and B2 and then
  commits a METADATA transaction recording an ongoing split into the entry for
  partition A.

  Once the split is commited, the splitting server immediately starts to perform
  the split operation.

  The split procedure is simple: the current partition is read in and sent to
  the leading servers for the new partition. Once all new leading servers have
  confirmed that they have committed the data to durable storage, the splitting
  server commits a new METADATA transaction to finalize the split. In this
  transcation, the partition A is removed from the partition list and the new
  partitions B1 and B2 are added.

4.2 Server Join

  To add a new server for a given partition, the server places itself in the joining
  list for that partition. While the server is joining, it will not receive any read
  or write requests for the partition but it will receive replicated rows
  from the other servers. Once the leading server has pushed all data to the
  joining server, it will commit a METADATA transaction to move the joining servers
  from LOAD to LIVE.

  Additionally there is a force-join option where a new server directly enters
  the live server list. This is never used except in the case where all servers
  for a given partition are down.

4.3 Server Leave

  To remove a server from a given partition, a METADATA transaction is commited
  to delete the server from either the server or the joining list of that partition.
  Once the server is removed from the list, the normal replication and lifecyle
  algorithm will eventually drop the local partition data once it is confirmed to
  be replicated to all other live servers.

  Of course, the server leave algorithm should ensure that no partition falls
  below the number of replicas specified by the replication level. In the normal
  case, the master handles all rebalances and initiates the leave operation only
  when it is safe to remove a node.


  The metadata file is not stored in the coordination service as it would be too
  large for e.g. ZooKeeper..

  Instead, the METADATA file of each table is stored as a simple file on N nodes
  which are recorded in the coordination service. Since we need to perform
  compare-and-swap updates on the metadata file, we use the coordination service
  (e.g.) zookeeper to store a bit of metadata, namely a transaction and sequence
  ID that allows us to safely update the metadata file from any node at any time.

  This is the exact information that we store in the coordination service for each

      metadata_txnid: the currently valid METADATA transaction id for this table
      metadata_sequence: the currently valid METADATA sequence number
      metadata_servers: the list of live metadata servers for this table

  The metadata transaction id is a random SHA1 hash. Additionally we store an
  incrementing sequence number with each transaction id to allow us to order

  The METADATA file supports these general operations:

5.1 Create Metadata File

  When a table is created, we pick three random servers from the cluster, create
  a new metadata file with a random metadata_txnid and sequence number of 1.
  We then store the metadata file on each of the servers and store the
  metadata_txnid, metadata_sequence and metadata_servers information into the
  coordination service.

5.1 Change Metadata File

  To change the metadata file, a change requester creates a change request. The
  change request contains the modification (e.g. SPLIT_PARTITION), the transaction
  id the change is based on and a new (random) transaction id.

  To commit the change, the requests sends the change request to any coordinating
  metadata server. The coordinationg metadata server generates a new METADATA file
  for the new transcation id and applies the operation. The coordinating metadata
  server then asks each other metadata server to store the new transaction.
  Once a majority of the metadata servers (including the coordinating metadata
  server) have confirmed that they have commited the new transaction to durable
  storage, the coordinating metadata server performs a compare-and-swap update in
  the coordination service to record the new transaction id as the current
  transaction id. If the update suceeds, the change is commited and the coordinating
  metadata server returns a success response to the requester.

  The compare-and-swap update will fail if another transaction was (atomically)
  commited in the meantime or the list of metadata servers changed. If the update
  fails, the coordinating metadata server asks the other metadata servers to clean
  up the aborted transaction file and returns an error the the requester.

5.2 Join Metadata Server

  A new metadata server can join itself into the list of metadata servers for a given
  table. Once the join was requested by e.g. the master, the metadata server reads
  the latest metadata transaction id from the coordination service and tries to
  download the METADATA file for that transaction from any of the currently live
  metadata servers. Once it has successfully fetched the latest transaction it
  performs a compare-and-swap update in the coordination service to add itself
  to the list of live metadata servers. If another transaction was commited while
  the new metadata server was trying to join (and hence, the locally stored
  transaction isn't the most recent one), the update will fail and the procedure
  is restarted from the beginning.

5.3 Remove Metadata Server

  To leave the list of metadata servers, an update is written to the coordination
  service to the remove the host from the list of metadata servers.

5.4 Background Metadata Replication

  If a metadata server was unavailable for some time and does not have the
  latest transaction stored it will not serve any metadata requests until it has
  successfully retrieved the transaction from one of the other metadata servers.

  Additionally, each server watches the information from the coordination service
  and ensures that it has the most recent metadata file for each partition to
  which it is assigned as a meta dataserver (by downloading the files from one
  of the other servers).

6. Implementation Details

6.1 Change Notification

  Once a new metadata transaction was committed (by writing the new metadata
  transaction to the coordination service) all other servers in
  the cluster will reliably get notified of the change by the coordinator. When a
  server sees a metadata change to a table, it will send a "partition discovery"
  requerst for each partition that it has locally stored for the chnaged table to
  one of the responsible metadata servers. This partition discovery request
  contains the metadata transaction id and the name/id of the partition. The
  response to the partition discovery request is called the partition discovery
  response. The partition covery response contains the should-be status of the
  partition on the requesting host ("LOAD", "SERVE" or "UNLOAD") and the list
  of other servers (and partition ids, in case of a split) the data should be

6.2 Placement IDs

  One important implementation detail is that every time we add or remove a server
  to a partition, we assign a unique "placement" ID to prevent ABA scenarios,

7. Alternatives Considered

7.1 Consistent Hashing


8 .Code Locations