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Posts written by Jack Vanlightly

Disaster Recovery and High Availability 101

July 7, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In this post I am going to cover perhaps the most commonly asked question I have received regarding RabbitMQ in the enterprise.

How can I make RabbitMQ highly available and what architectures/practices are recommended for disaster recovery?

RabbitMQ offers features to support high availability and disaster recovery but before we dive straight in I’d like to prepare the ground a little. First I want to go over Business Continuity Planning and frame our requirements in those terms. From there we need to set some expectations about what is possible. There are fundamental laws such as the speed of light and the CAP theorem which both have serious impacts on what kind of DR/HA solution we decide to go with.

Finally we’ll look at the RabbitMQ features available to us and their pros/cons.

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How quorum queues deliver locally while still offering ordering guarantees

June 23, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

The team was recently asked about whether and how quorum queues can offer the same message ordering guarantees as classic queues given that they will deliver messages from a local queue replica (leader or follower) when possible. Mirrored queues always deliver from the master (the leader), so delivering from any queue replica sounds like it could impact those guarantees. 

That is the subject of this post. Be warned, this post is a technical deep dive for the curious and the distributed systems enthusiast. We’ll take a look at how quorum queues can deliver messages from any queue replica, leader or follower, without additional coordination (extra to Raft) but maintaining message ordering guarantees.

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Cluster Sizing Case Study – Quorum Queues Part 2

June 22, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In the last post we started a sizing analysis of our workload using quorum queues. We focused on the happy scenario that consumers are keeping up meaning that there are no queue backlogs and all brokers in the cluster are operating normally. By running a series of benchmarks modelling our workload at different intensities we identified the top 5 cluster size and storage volume combinations in terms of cost per 1000 msg/s per month.

  1. Cluster: 7 nodes, 8 vCPUs (c5.2xlarge), gp2 SDD. Cost: $54
  2. Cluster: 9 nodes, 8 vCPUs (c5.2xlarge), gp2 SDD. Cost: $69
  3. Cluster: 5 nodes, 8 vCPUs (c5.2xlarge), st1 HDD. Cost: $93
  4. Cluster: 5 nodes, 16 vCPUs (c5.4xlarge), gp2 SDD. Cost: $98
  5. Cluster: 7 nodes, 16 vCPUs (c5.4xlarge), gp2 SDD. Cost: $107

There are more tests to run to ensure these clusters can handle things like brokers failing and large backlogs accumulating during things like outages or system slowdowns.

All quorum queues are declared with the following properties:

  • x-quorum-initial-group-size=3
  • x-max-in-memory-length=0

The x-max-in-memory-length property forces the quorum queue to remove message bodies from memory as soon as it is safe to do. You can set it to a longer limit, this is the most aggressive - designed to avoid large memory growth at the cost of more disk reads when consumers do not keep up. Without this property message bodies are kept in memory at all times which can place memory growth to the point of memory alarms setting off which severely impacts the publish rate - something we want to avoid in this workload case study.

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Cluster Sizing Case Study – Quorum Queues Part 1

June 21, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In a first post in this sizing series we covered the workload, the tests, and the cluster and storage volume configurations on AWS ec2. In this post we’ll run a sizing analysis with quorum queues. We also ran a sizing analysis on mirrored queues.

In this post we’ll run the increasing intensity tests that will measure our candidate cluster sizes at varying publish rates, under ideal conditions. In the next post we’ll run resiliency tests that measure whether our clusters can handle our target peak load under adverse conditions.

All quorum queues are declared with the following properties:

  • x-quorum-initial-group-size=3 (replication factor)
  • x-max-in-memory-length=0

The x-max-in-memory-length property forces the quorum queue to remove message bodies from memory as soon as it is safe to do. You can set it to a longer limit, this is the most aggressive - designed to avoid large memory growth at the cost of more disk reads when consumers do not keep up. Without this property message bodies are kept in memory at all times which can place memory growth to the point of memory alarms setting off which severely impacts the publish rate - something we want to avoid in this workload case study.

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Cluster Sizing Case Study – Mirrored Queues Part 2

June 20, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In the last post we started a sizing analysis of our workload using mirrored queues. We focused on the happy scenario that consumers are keeping up meaning that there are no queue backlogs and all brokers in the cluster are operating normally. By running a series of benchmarks modelling our workload at different intensities we identified the top 5 cluster size and storage volume combinations in terms of cost per 1000 msg/s per month.

  1. Cluster: 5 nodes, 8 vCPUs, gp2 SDD. Cost: $58
  2. Cluster: 7 nodes, 8 vCPUs, gp2 SDD. Cost: $81
  3. Cluster: 5 nodes, 8 vCPUs, st1 HDD. Cost: $93
  4. Cluster: 5 nodes, 16 vCPUs, gp2 SDD. Cost: $98
  5. Cluster: 9 nodes, 8 vCPUs, gp2 SDD. Cost: $104

There are more tests to run to ensure these clusters can handle things like brokers failing and large backlogs accumulating during things like outages or system slowdowns.

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Cluster Sizing Case Study - Mirrored Queues Part 1

June 19, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In a first post in this sizing series we covered the workload, cluster and storage volume configurations on AWS ec2. In this post we’ll run a sizing analysis with mirrored queues.

The first phase of our sizing analysis will be assessing what intensities each of our clusters and storage volumes can handle easily and which are too much.

All tests use the following policy:

  • ha-mode: exactly
  • ha-params: 2
  • ha-sync-mode: manual
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Cluster Sizing and Other Considerations

June 18, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

This is the start of a short series where we look at sizing your RabbitMQ clusters. The actual sizing wholly depends on your hardware and workload, so rather than tell you how many CPUs and how much RAM you should provision, we’ll create some general guidelines and use a case study to show what things you should consider.

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How to Run Benchmarks

June 4, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

There can be many reasons to do benchmarking:

  • Sizing and capacity planning
  • Product assessment (can RabbitMQ handle my load?)
  • Discover best configuration for your workload

In this post we’ll take a look at the various options for running RabbitMQ benchmarks. But before we do, you’ll need a way to see the results and look at system metrics.

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Quorum Queues and Flow Control - Stress Tests

May 15, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In the last post we ran some simple benchmarks on a single queue to see what effect pipelining publisher confirms and consumer acknowledgements had on flow control. 

Specifically we looked at:

  • Publishers: Restricting the number of in-flight messages (messages sent but pending a confirm).
  • Consumers: Prefetch (the number in-flight messages the broker will allow on the channel)
  • Consumers: Ack Interval (multiple flag usage)

Unsurprisingly, we saw when we restricted publishers and the brokers to a small number of in-flight messages at a time, that throughput was low. When we increased that limit, throughput increased, but only to a point, after which we saw no more throughput gains but instead just latency increases. We also saw that allowing consumers to use the multiple flag was beneficial to throughput.

In this post we’re going to look at those same three settings, but with many clients, many queues and different amounts of load, including stress tests. We’ll see that publisher confirms and consumer acknowledgements play a role in flow control to help prevent overload of a broker. 

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Quorum Queues and Flow Control - Single Queue Benchmarks

May 14, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

In the last post we covered what flow control is, both as a general concept and the various flow control mechanisms available in RabbitMQ. We saw that publisher confirms and consumer acknowledgements are not just data safety measures, but also play a role in flow control. 

In this post we’re going to look at how application developers can use publisher confirms and consumer acknowledgements to get a balance of safety and high performance, in the context of a single queue. 

Flow control becomes especially important when a broker is being overloaded. A single queue is unlikely to overload your broker. If you send large messages then sure, you can saturate your network, or if you only have a single CPU core, then one queue could max it out. But most of us are on 8, 16 or 30+ core machines. But it’s interesting to break down the effects of confirms and acks on a single queue. From there we can take our learnings and see if they apply to larger deployments (the next post).

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Quorum Queues and Flow Control - The Concepts

May 4, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

As part of our quorum queue series we’re taking a look at flow control, how it protects RabbitMQ from being overloaded and how that relates to quorum queues.

What is Flow Control?

Flow control is a concept that has been in computer networking and networked software for decades. Essentially it is a mechanism for applying back pressure to senders to avoid overloading receivers. Receivers typically buffer incoming packets/messages as a way of dealing with a send rate that exceeds its processing rate. But receiver buffers cannot grow forever so either the send rate should only transiently exceed receiver processing capacity (bursty traffic) or the sender must be slowed down (back pressure).

Flow control is a way of applying this back pressure on the sender, slowing them down so that the receiver’s buffers do not overflow and latencies do not grow too large. In a chain of sender/receivers, this back pressure can propagate up the chain to the origin of the traffic. In more complex graphs of connected components, flow control can balance incoming traffic between fast and slow senders, avoiding overload but allowing the system to reach full utilisation despite different numbers of senders, different rates and different load patterns (steady or bursty).

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Quorum queues and why disks matter

April 21, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

Quorum queues are still relatively new to RabbitMQ and many people have still not made the jump from classic mirrored queues. Before you migrate to this new queue type you need to make sure that your hardware can support your workload and a big factor in that is what storage drives you use.

In this blog post we’re going to take a closer look at quorum queues and their performance characteristics on different storage configurations.

HDD or SSD? One drive or multiple drives?

The TL;DR is that we highly recommend SSDs when using quorum queues. The reason for this is that quorum queues are sensitive to IO latency and SSDs deliver lower latency IO than HDDs. With higher IO latency, you’ll see lower throughput, higher end-to-end latency and some other undesirable effects.

Further down in this post we’ll demonstrate why we recommend this, using various benchmarks with different SSD and HDD configurations.

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RabbitMQ Gets an HA Upgrade

April 20, 2020 by Jack Vanlightly

This is the first part of a series on quorum queues, our new replicated queue type. We’ll be covering everything from what quorum queues are, to hardware requirements, migration from mirrored queues and best practices.

Introducing Quorum Queues

Mirrored queues, also known as HA queues have been the de facto option for years when requiring extra data safety guarantees for your messages. Quorum queues are the next generation of replicated queue that aim to replace most use cases for mirrored queues and are available from the 3.8 release and onward.

In this blog series we’re going to cover the following:

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RabbitMQ 3.8 Release Overview

November 11, 2019 by Jack Vanlightly

RabbitMQ 3.8 has just been released and has some major new features which focus on reliability, operations, and observability.

You can find the new 3.8 release on the GitHub releases page which includes information about what is included in the release as well as various installation assets. See our upgrade guide for more information about upgrading to 3.8.0.

Our team dedicates this release to Joe Armstrong, the creator of Erlang. Joe’s work in the fields of concurrent and distributed systems benefits RabbitMQ to this day. Equally importantly, Joe was a rare example of a brilliant engineer who was also very humble and kind.

Let’s take a quick look at the new features in this release.

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