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How scheduler and script stand in supporting failover (Percona and Marco example) 

In part one of this series I had illustrated how simple scenarios may fail or have problems when using Galera native support inside ProxySQL. In this post, I will repeat the same tests but using the scheduler option and the external script.

The Scheduler

First a brief explanation about the scheduler.

The scheduler inside ProxySQL was created to allow administrators to extend ProxySQL capabilities. The scheduler gives the option to add any kind of script or application and run it at the specified interval of time. The scheduler was also the initial first way we had to deal with Galera/Percona XtraDB Cluster (PXC) node management in case of issues. 

The scheduler table is composed as follows:

In recent times I have been designing several solutions focused on High Availability and Disaster Recovery. Some of them using Percona Server for MySQL with group replication, some using Percona XtraDB Cluster (PXC). What many of them had in common was the use of ProxySQL for the connection layer. This is because I consider the use of a layer 7 Proxy preferable, given the possible advantages provided in ReadWrite split and SQL filtering. 

The other positive aspect provided by ProxySQL, at least for Group Replication, is the native support which allows us to have a very quick resolution of possible node failures.

ProxySQL has Galera support as well, but in the past, that had shown to be pretty unstable, and the old method to use the scheduler was still the best way to go.

After Percona Live Online 2020 I decided to try it again and to see if at least the basics were now working fine. 

What I Have Tested

I was not looking for complicated tests that would have included different levels of transaction isolation. I was instead interested in the more simple and basic ones. My scenario was:

1 ProxySQL node v2.0.15  (
1 ProxySQL node v2.1.0  (
3 PXC 8.20 nodes ( with internal network ( 

ProxySQL was freshly installed. 

All the commands used to modify the configuration are here. Tests were done first using ProxySQL v2.015 then v2.1.0. Only if results diverge I will report the version and results. 

PXC- Failover Scenario

As mentioned above I am going to focus on the fail-over needs, period. I will have two different scenarios:

  • Maintenance
  • Node crash 

From the ProxySQL point of view I will have three scenarios always with a single Primary:

  • Writer is NOT a reader (option 0 and 2)
  • Writer is also a reader

The configuration of the native support will be:

INSERT INTO mysql_servers (hostname,hostgroup_id,port,weight,max_connections,comment) VALUES ('',100,3306,10000,2000,'DC1');
INSERT INTO mysql_servers (hostname,hostgroup_id,port,weight,max_connections,comment) VALUES ('',101,3306,100,2000,'DC1');
INSERT INTO mysql_servers (hostname,hostgroup_id,port,weight,max_connections,comment) VALUES ('',101,3306,10000,2000,'DC1');
INSERT INTO mysql_servers (hostname,hostgroup_id,port,weight,max_connections,comment) VALUES ('',101,3306,10000,2000,'DC1');

Galera host groups:

  • Writer: 100
  • Reader: 101
  • Backup_writer: 102
  • Offline_hostgroup: 9101

Before going ahead let us analyze the Mysql Servers settings. As you can notice I am using the weight attribute to indicate ProxySQL which is my preferred write. But I also use weight for the READ Host Group to indicate which servers should be used and how.

Given that we have that:

  • Write
    •  is the preferred Primary
    •  is the first failover 
    • is the last chance 
  • Read
    • have the same weight and load should be balanced between the two of them
    • The given is the preferred writer should NOT receive the same load in reads and have a lower weight value.  

The Tests

First Test

The first test is to see how the cluster will behave in the case of 1 Writer and 2 readers, with the option writer_is_also_reader = 0.
To achieve this the settings for proxysql will be:

insert into mysql_galera_hostgroups (writer_hostgroup,backup_writer_hostgroup,reader_hostgroup, offline_hostgroup,active,max_writers,writer_is_also_reader,max_transactions_behind) 
values (100,102,101,9101,1,1,0,10);

As soon as I load this to runtime, ProxySQL should move the nodes to the relevant Host Group. But this is not happening, instead, it keeps the readers in the writer HG and SHUN them.

| weight | hostgroup | srv_host | srv_port | status |
| 10000 | 100 | | 3306 | ONLINE |
| 10000 | 100 | | 3306 | SHUNNED |
| 10000 | 100 | | 3306 | SHUNNED |
| 10000 | 102 | | 3306 | ONLINE |
| 10000 | 102 | | 3306 | ONLINE |

This is, of course, wrong. But why does it happen?

The reason is simple. ProxySQL is expecting to see all nodes in the reader group with READ_ONLY flag set to 1. 

In ProxySQL documentation we can read:

writer_is_also_reader=0: nodes with read_only=0 will be placed either in the writer_hostgroup and in the backup_writer_hostgroup after a topology change, these will be excluded from the reader_hostgroup.

This is conceptually wrong. 

A PXC cluster is a tightly coupled replication cluster, with virtually synchronous replication. One of its benefits is to have the node “virtually” aligned with respect to the data state. 

In this kind of model, the cluster is data-centric, and each node shares the same data view.

tightly coupled

What it also means is that if correctly set the nodes will be fully consistent in data READ.

The other characteristic of the cluster is that ANY node can become a writer anytime.  While best practices indicate that it is better to use one Writer a time as Primary to prevent certification conflicts, this does not mean that the nodes not currently elected as Primary, should be prevented from becoming a writer.

Which is exactly what READ_ONLY flag does if activated.

Not only, the need to have READ_ONLY set means that we must change it BEFORE we have the node able to become a writer in case of fail-over. 

This, in short, means the need to have either a topology manager or a script that will do that with all the relative checks and logic to be safe. Which in time of fail-over means it will add time and complexity when it’s not really needed and that goes against the concept of the tightly-coupled cluster itself.

Given the above, we can say that this ProxySQL method related to writer_is_also_reader =0, as it is implemented today for Galera, is, at the best, useless. 

Why is it working for Group Replication? That is easy; because Group Replication internally uses a mechanism to lock/unlock the nodes when non-primary, when using the cluster in single Primary mode. That internal mechanism was implemented as a security guard to prevent random writes on multiple nodes, and also manage the READ_ONLY flag. 

Second Test

Let us move on and test with writer_is_also_reader = 2. Again from the documentation:

writer_is_also_reader=2 : Only the nodes with read_only=0 which are placed in the backup_writer_hostgroup are also placed in the reader_hostgroup after a topology change i.e. the nodes with read_only=0 exceeding the defined max_writers.

Given the settings as indicated above, my layout before using Galera support is:

If you have a business no matter how small, you are collecting data, and you need to have your data accessible to make informed decisions about how to make your business better. The more successful you become the more data you are producing and the more you become dependent by it. This is when you start to realize your must have your data in a safe place like a database instead some spreadsheet.

But to put your data in a database is not enough, you must be sure the database will be robust, resilient, and always available when you or your customers need it.

When design architectures for robust database architectures, we always discuss about High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR). These two concepts are elements of the larger umbrella that is the Business continuity plan.

To cover the different needs, we (Database Architects) use/apply two main models: Tightly Coupled cluster, and Loosely Coupled cluster (latest presentation

The combination of the two different model allow us to build solid, resilient, scalable HA solution geographically distributed.

Like this:



Until now the part that was NOT natively supported in the architecture above was how to failover the replication channel from a node to another node in case of crash.

This element is currently cover by custom script( develop by my colleague Yves Trudeau.


But Oracle in MySQL 8.0.22 introduced the Asynchronous failover feature. In this blog I am going to check if this feature is enough to cover what we need to avoid using external movable/custom script or if instead there is still work to do.

My scenario is the following:

I have a PXC 8.0.20 cluster on DC1 and I am going to replicate towards a Group Replication cluster 8.0.22.

First, I need to establish the replication, to do so I follow the standard steps:

Once I am up and running and have a situation like this:

| group_replication_applier | 38809616-e149-11ea-b0cc-080027d0603e | gr1         |        3306 |       ONLINE |     PRIMARY |         8.0.22 |
| group_replication_applier | 959cc074-e14b-11ea-b90c-080027d0603e | gr2         |        3306 |       ONLINE |   SECONDARY |         8.0.22 |
| group_replication_applier | a56b38ec-e14b-11ea-b9ce-080027d0603e | gr3         |        3306 |       ONLINE |   SECONDARY |         8.0.22 |
| group_replication_applier | b7039e3b-f744-11ea-854c-08002734ed50 | gr4         |        3306 |       ONLINE |   SECONDARY |         8.0.22 |


Then I am ready to create the replication channel.

To do so I am first doing keeping the OLD style without Auto-failover. To do so:

On one of the PCX nodes:

Create user replica_dc@’192.168.4.%’ identified by ‘secret’;
Grant REPLICATION SLAVE on *.* to replica_dc@’192.168.4.%’;

On the PRIMARY of my Grou Replication cluster:

for channel "dc1_to_dc2";


A brief explanation about the above:

  • source_connection_auto_failover=0,  <--This enable/disable auto-failover
  • master_retry_count=6,                       <-- The number of attempts
  • master_connect_retry=10                  <-- Specifies the interval between reconnection attempts

Once Replication is up, we will have this scenario:

async failover 8022 pxc base async1

Now in case of a crash of the PXC node from which I replicate for, my Group replication cluster will stop replicating:

async failover 8022 pxc base async2

To prevent this to happen I will use the new functionality to allow Asynchronous replication failover.

To do so the first thing I have to do is to add the list of possible SOURCE in the new table that is locate in MySQL (mysql.replication_asynchronous_connection_failover), to do it I don’t need to use an insert command but instead a function:

asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source(channel, host, port, network_namespace, weight)


  • channel: The replication channel for which this replication source server is part of the source list.
  • host: The host name for this replication source server.
  • port: The port number for this replication source server.
  • network_namespace: The network namespace for this replication source server (when specified).
  • weight: The priority of this replication source server

In my case I will have:

SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 100);
SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 80);
SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 50);

Now, and this is important, given the information is located in a table in the mysql.schema , the information present in the Primary is automatically replicated all over the cluster. Given that all nodes SEE the list of potential Source.

But given we are running our Group Replication cluster in Single Primary mode we can have only the Primary acting as REPLICA, because only the Primary can write. Hope that is clear.

To activate the failover we just need to pass the command:

First let us check the status:

SELECT CHANNEL_NAME, SOURCE_CONNECTION_AUTO_FAILOVER FROM performance_schema.replication_connection_configuration where CHANNEL_NAME = 'dc1_to_dc2';
| dc1_to_dc2   | 0                               |

Ok all good I can activate the auto_failover:

stop slave for channel 'dc1_to_dc2';
CHANGE MASTER TO source_connection_auto_failover=1 for channel "dc1_to_dc2";
start slave for channel 'dc1_to_dc2';
SELECT CHANNEL_NAME, SOURCE_CONNECTION_AUTO_FAILOVER FROM performance_schema.replication_connection_configuration where CHANNEL_NAME = 'dc1_to_dc2';

| dc1_to_dc2   | 1                               |

Perfect all is running, and this is my layout now:

async failover 8022 pxc base async3

At this point if something happens to my current SOURCE the auto-failover will be triggered, and I should see my GR Primary move to the other node.

After I kill the pxc_node2 the error log of the primary will present:

[ERROR] [MY-010584] [Repl] Slave I/O for channel 'dc1_to_dc2': error reconnecting to master This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:3306' - retry-time: 10 retries: 1 message: Can't connect to MySQL server on '' (111), Error_code: MY-002003
[ERROR] [MY-010584] [Repl] Slave I/O for channel 'dc1_to_dc2': error reconnecting to master This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:3306' - retry-time: 10 retries: 6 message: Can't connect to MySQL server on '' (111), Error_code: MY-002003

[System] [MY-010562] [Repl] Slave I/O thread for channel 'dc1_to_dc2': connected to master This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:3306',replication started in log 'FIRST' at position 53656167
[Warning] [MY-010549] [Repl] The master's UUID has changed, although this should not happen unless you have changed it manually. The old UUID was 28ae74e9-12c7-11eb-8d57-08002734ed50.

The Primary identify the SOURCE failed, try N time as asked waiting for each try T seconds. After that it try to change the master choosing it form the given list. If we use a different weight value, the node that will be elected will be the active one with the highest weight value.

Once a node is elected as SOURCE, the replication channel WILL NOT fail back also if a node with higher weight value will become available. The replication SOURCE change only if there is a failure in the communication between SOURCE-REPLICA pair.

This is what I have now:

async failover 8022 pxc async failover4



Is this enough?

Well let us say that we are very close, but no this is not enough.


Because this cover ONLY a side of the picture. Which is the REPLICA node able to change the SOURCE. But if we are talking of a cluster like Group Replication, we need to have a mechanism that will allow the CLUSTER (and not only the single node) to fail-over.

What does it mean?

Here I mean that IF the Primary fails (remember only a Primary can become a REPLICA because only a Primary can write), another Primary will be elected by the cluster, and I would expect that if my previous Primary was replicating from a SOURCE, then the new one will do the same starting from the last valid applied position.

I am sure Oracle had already identified this as a possible issue, given to me this new feature sounds something done to make the architecture based on MySQL more resilient. As such the above looks like the most logic step forward when thinking to Tightly Coupled cluster like Group Replication.

Summary of commands

Set the source:

change master to master_user='replica_dc', master_password=<secret>, master_host='', master_auto_position=1, source_connection_auto_failover=0,   master_retry_count=6, master_connect_retry=10 for channel "dc1_to_dc2";

Set the list:

SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 100);
SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 80);
SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_add_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, null, 50);

Delete an entry from the list

SELECT asynchronous_connection_failover_delete_source('dc1_to_dc2', '', 3306, '');

Check if a replication channel is using automatic failover:

SELECT CHANNEL_NAME, SOURCE_CONNECTION_AUTO_FAILOVER FROM performance_schema.replication_connection_configuration where CHANNEL_NAME = 'dc1_to_dc2';

To change the SOURCE setting:

stop slave for channel 'dc1_to_dc2';
CHANGE MASTER TO source_connection_auto_failover=1 for channel "dc1_to_dc2";
start slave for channel 'dc1_to_dc2';


This is a very nice feature that will significantly increase the architecture resilience when using asynchronous replication in the architecture.

Still I think we need to wait to have it fully cover what is needed. This is a great first step but not enough, we still must manage the replication if a node in the REPLICA cluster fails.

I really hope we will see the evolution of that soon.

In the meantime, GREAT WORK MySQL/Oracle team, really!!


For what reason should I use a real multi-Primary setup?
To be clear, not a multi-writer solution where any node can become the active writer in case of needs, as for PXC or PS-Group_replication.
No, we are talking about a multi-Primary setup where I can write at the same time on multiple nodes.
I want to insist on this “why?”.

After having excluded the possible solutions mentioned above, both covering the famous 99,995% availability, which is 26.30 minutes downtime in a year, what is left?

Disaster Recovery? Well that is something I would love to have, but to be a real DR solution we need to put several kilometers (miles for imperial) in the middle. 

And we know (see here and here) that aside some misleading advertising, we cannot have a tightly coupled cluster solution across geographical regions.

So, what is left? I may need more HA, ok that is a valid reason. Or I may need to scale the number of writes, ok that is a valid reason as well.
This means, at the end, that I am looking to a multi-Primary because:

  • Scale writes (more nodes more writes)
    • Consistent reads (what I write on A must be visible on B)
  • Gives me 0 (zero) downtime, or close to that (5 nines is a maximum downtime of 864 milliseconds per day!!)
  • Allow me to shift the writer pointer at any time from A to B and vice versa, consistently.   

Now, keeping myself bound to the MySQL ecosystem, my natural choice would be MySQL NDB cluster.

But my (virtual) boss was at AWS re-invent and someone mentioned to him that Aurora Multi-Primary does what I was looking for.

This (long) article is my voyage in discovering if that is true or … not.

Given I am focused on the behaviour first, and NOT interested in absolute numbers to shock the audience with millions of QPS, I will use low level Aurora instances. And will perform tests from two EC2 in the same VPC/region of the nodes.


You can find the details about the tests on GitHub here Finally I will test:

  • Connection speed
  • Stale read
  • Write single node for baseline
  • Write on both node:
    • Scaling splitting the load by schema
    • Scaling same schema 

Tests results

Let us start to have some real fun. The first test is … 

Connection Speed

The purpose of this test is to evaluate the time taken in opening a new connection and time taken to close it. The action of open/close connection can be a very expensive operation especially if applications do not use a connection pool mechanism.



As we can see ProxySQL results to be the most efficient way to deal with opening connections, which was expected given the way it is designed to reuse open connections towards the backend. 



Different is the close connection operation in which ProxySQL seems to take a little bit longer.  As global observation we can say that using ProxySQL we have more consistent behaviour. Of course this test is a simplistic one, and we are not checking the scalability (from 1 to N connections) but it is good enough to give us the initial feeling. Specific connection tests will be the focus of the next blog on Aurora MM. 

Stale Reads

Aurora MultiPrimary use the same mechanism of the default Aurora to update the buffer pool:

aurora multi master sharing BP

Using the Page Cache update, just doing both ways. This means that the Buffer Pool of Node2 is updated with the modification performed in Node1 and vice versa.

To verify if an application would be really able to have consistent reads, I have run this test. This test is meant to measure if, and how many, stale reads we will have when writing on a node and reading from the other.

Amazon Aurora multi Primary has 2 consistency model:

Consistency model

As an interesting fact the result was that with the default consistency model (INSTANCE_RAW), we got 100% stale read.

Given that I focused on identifying the level of the cost that exists when using the other consistency model (REGIONAL_RAW) that allows an application to have consistent reads.

The results indicate an increase of the 44% in total execution time, and of the 95% (22 time slower) in write execution. 




It is interesting to note that the time taken is in some way predictable and consistent between the two consistency models. 

The graph below shows in yellow how long the application must wait to see the correct data on the reader node. While in blue is the amount of time the application waits to get back the same consistent read because it must wait for the commit on the writer.


As you can see the two are more or less aligned. Given the performance cost imposed by using REGIONAL_RAW,  all the other tests are done the defaut INSTANCE_RAW, unless explicitly stated.

Writing tests

All tests run in this section were done using sysbench-tpcc with the following settings:

sysbench ./tpcc.lua --mysql-host=<> --mysql-port=3306 --mysql-user=<> --mysql-password=<> --mysql-db=tpcc --time=300 --threads=32 --report-interval=1 --tables=10 --scale=15  --mysql_table_options=" CHARSET=utf8 COLLATE=utf8_bin"  --db-driver=mysql prepare

sysbench /opt/tools/sysbench-tpcc/tpcc.lua --mysql-host=$mysqlhost --mysql-port=$port --mysql-user=<> --mysql-password=<> --mysql-db=tpcc --db-driver=mysql --tables=10 --scale=15 --time=$time  --rand-type=zipfian --rand-zipfian-exp=0 --report-interval=1 --mysql-ignore-errors=all --histogram  --report_csv=yes --stats_format=csv --db-ps-mode=disable --threads=$threads run

Write Single node (Baseline)

Before starting the comparative analysis, I was looking to define what was the “limit” of traffic/load for this platform. 

Picture 1

t1 t2

From the graph above, we can see that this setup scales up to 128 threads after that, the performance remains more or less steady. 

Amazon claims that we can mainly double the performance when using both nodes in write mode and use a different schema to avoid conflict.



Once more remember I am not interested in the absolute numbers here, but I am expecting the same behaviour Given that our expectation is to see:

Picture 2

Write on both nodes different schemas

So AWS recommend this as the scaling solution:

split traffic by db table partition to avoid conflicts

And I diligently follow the advice.

I used 2 EC2 nodes in the same subnet of the Aurora Node, writing to a different schema (tpcc & tpcc2). 


Let us make it short and go straight to the point. Did we get the expected scalability?

Well no:

Picture 3

We just had 26% increase, quite far to be the expected 100% Let us see what happened in detail (if not interested just skip and go to the next test).

Node 1

Picture 5

Node 2

Picture 6

As you can see Node1 was (more or less) keeping up with the expectations and being close to the expected performance.
But Node2 was just not keeping up, performances there were just terrible. 

The graphs below show what happened.

While Node1 was (again more or less) scaling up to the baseline expectations (128 threads), Node2 collapsed on its knees at 16 threads. Node2 was never able to scale up.


Node 1


Node1 is scaling the reads as expected also if here and there we can see performance deterioration.

Node 2


Node2 is not scaling Reads at all. 


Node 1


Same as Read

Node 2


Same as read

Now someone may think I was making a mistake and I was writing on the same schema. I assure you I was not.

Check the next test to see what happened if using the same schema.  

Write on both nodes same schema


Now, now Marco, this is unfair. You know this will cause contention.

Yes I do! But nonetheless I was curious to see what was going to happen and how the platform would deal with that level of contention. 
My expectations were to have a lot of performance degradation and increased number of locks. About conflict I was not wrong, node2 after the test reported:

| table       | index   | PHYSICAL_CONFLICTS_HIST |
| district9   | PRIMARY |                    3450 |
| district6   | PRIMARY |                    3361 |
| district2   | PRIMARY |                    3356 |
| district8   | PRIMARY |                    3271 |
| district4   | PRIMARY |                    3237 |
| district10  | PRIMARY |                    3237 |
| district7   | PRIMARY |                    3237 |
| district3   | PRIMARY |                    3217 |
| district5   | PRIMARY |                    3156 |
| district1   | PRIMARY |                    3072 |
| warehouse2  | PRIMARY |                    1867 |
| warehouse10 | PRIMARY |                    1850 |
| warehouse6  | PRIMARY |                    1808 |
| warehouse5  | PRIMARY |                    1781 |
| warehouse3  | PRIMARY |                    1773 |
| warehouse9  | PRIMARY |                    1769 |
| warehouse4  | PRIMARY |                    1745 |
| warehouse7  | PRIMARY |                    1736 |
| warehouse1  | PRIMARY |                    1735 |
| warehouse8  | PRIMARY |                    1635 |

Which is obviously a strong indication something was not working right. In terms of performance gain, if we compare ONLY the result with the 128 Threads : Picture 4

Also with the high level of conflict we still have 12% of performance gain.

The problem is that in general we have the two nodes behave quite badly.
If you check the graph below you can see that the level of conflict is such to prevent the nodes not only to scale but to act consistently.

Node 1

Picture 7

Node 2

Picture 8


In the following graphs we can see how node1 had issues and it actually crashed 3 times, during tests with 32/64/512 treads.
Node2 was always up but the performances were very low. 

Node 1


Node 2



Node 1


Node 2


Recovery from crashed Node

About recovery time reading the AWS documentation and listening to presentations, I often heard that Aurora Multi Primary is a 0 downtime solution.
Or other statements like: “
in applications where you can't afford even brief downtime for database write operations, a multi-master cluster can help to avoid an outage when a writer instance becomes unavailable. The multi-master cluster doesn't use the failover mechanism, because it doesn't need to promote another DB instance to have read/write capability

To achieve this the suggestion I found, was to have applications pointing directly to the Nodes endpoint and not use the Cluster endpoint.
In this context the solution pointing to the Nodes should be able to failover within a seconds or so, while the cluster endpoint:

fail over times using mariadb driver

Personally I think that designing an architecture where the application is responsible for the connection to the database and failover is some kind of refuse from 2001. But if you feel this is the way, well go for it.

What I did for testing is to use ProxySQL, as plain as possible, with nothing else then the basic monitor coming from the native monitor.

I then compare the results with the tests using the Cluster endpoint.
In this way I adopt the advice of pointing directly at the nodes, but I was doing things in our time.  

The results are below and they confirm (more or less) the data coming from Amazon.


A downtime of 7 seconds is quite a long time nowadays, especially if I am targeting the 5 nines solution that I want to remember is 864 ms downtime per day.

Using ProxySQL is going closer to that, still too long to be called 0 (zero) downtime.

I also have fail-back issues when using the AWS cluster endpoint.

Given it was not able to move the connection to the joining node seamlessly. 

Last but not least when using the consistency level INSTANCE_RAW, I had some data issue as well as PK conflict:
FATAL: mysql_drv_query() returned error 1062 (Duplicate entry '18828082' for key 'PRIMARY')   


As state the beginning of this long blog the reasons expectations to go for a multi Primary solution were:

  • Scale writes (more nodes more writes)
  • Gives me 0 (zero) downtime, or close to that (5 nines is a maximum downtime of 864 milliseconds per day!!)
  • Allow me to shift the writer pointer at any time from A to B and vice versa, consistently.   

Honestly I feel we have completely failed the scaling point.

Facepalm Jesus

Probably if I use the largest Aurora I will get much better absolute numbers, and it will take me more to encounter the same issues, but I will.

In any case if the Multi muster solution is designed to provide that scalability, it should do that with any version.

I did not have zero downtime, but I was able to failover pretty quickly with ProxySQL.

Finally, unless the consistency model is REGIONAL_RAW, shifting from one node to the other is not prone to possible negative effects like stale reads.

Because that I consider this requirement not satisfied in full. 

Given all the above, I think this solution could eventually be valid only for High Availability (close to be 5 nines), but given it comes with some limitations I do not feel comfortable in preferring it over others just for HA, at the end default Aurora is already good enough as a High available solution. 


A small thing that brings huge help.

The other day I was writing some code to process a very large amount of items coming from a social media API. My items were ending in a queue in MySQL and then needed to be processed and eventually moved.

The task was not so strange,  but what I have to do is to develop a queue processor.  Now when you need to process a queue you have two types of queue: static and dynamic.

The static comes in a batch of N number of items in a given time interval and is normally easier to process given you have a defined number of items that you can split in chunks and process in parallel.

The dynamic is… well... more challenging. One option is to wait to have a predefined number of items, and then process them as if they were a static queue.

But this approach is not very good, given it is possible that it will delay a lot the processing of an item for all the time it has to wait to reach the desired queue’s size.

The other possibility is to have the processing jobs work on a single item and not in chunk/batch. But, this is not optimal when given the chance to process a queue in batch to speed up the processing time.

My incoming queue is a bit unpredictable, a mix of fixed sizes and a few thousand coming sparse, without a clear interval.  So I was there thinking on how to process this and already starting to design a quite complex mechanism to dynamically calculate the size of the possible chunks and the number of jobs, when…

An aside: some colleagues know my habit to read the whole MySQL manual, from A to Z, at least once a year. It's a way for me to review what is going on and sometimes to dig in more in some aspects. This normally also gives me a good level of confidence about new features and other changes on top of reading the release notes.

...When … looking at the documentation for something else, my attention was captured by:

“To avoid waiting for other transactions to release row locks, NOWAIT and SKIP LOCKED options may be used with SELECT ... FOR UPDATE or SELECT ... FOR SHARE locking read statements.”

Wait -  what???

Let me dig in a bit:

“SKIP LOCKED. A locking read that uses SKIP LOCKED never waits to acquire a row lock. The query executes immediately, removing locked rows from the result set.”

Wow, how could I have missed that?

It was also not new but in MySQL 8.0.1, the milestone release. Having experience with Oracle, I knew what SKIP LOCKED does and how to use it. But I was really not aware that it was also available in MySQL.

In short, SKIP LOCKED allows you to lock a row (or set of them), bypassing the rows already locked by other transactions.

The classic example is:

# Session 1:
mysql> INSERT INTO t (i) VALUES(1),(2),(3);
| i |
| 2 |

# Session 2:
| i |
| 1 |
| 3 |

But what is important for me is that given an N number of jobs running, I can bypass all the effort of calculating the dynamic chunks, given that using SKIP LOCKED that will happen as well, if in a different way.

All good, but what performance will I have using SKIP LOCK in comparison to the other two solutions?

I have run the following tests on my laptop, so not a real server, and used a fake queue processor I wrote on the fly to test the things you can find on GitHub here.  

What I do is to create a table like this:

  `jobid` int unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `time_in` bigint NOT NULL,
  `time_out` bigint DEFAULT '0',
  `worked_time` bigint DEFAULT '0',
  `processer` int unsigned DEFAULT '0',
  `info` varchar(255) DEFAULT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`jobid`),
  KEY `idx_time_in` (`time_in`,`time_out`),
  KEY `idx_time_out` (`time_out`,`time_in`),
  KEY `processer` (`processer`)

Then I will do three different methods of processing:

  1. Simple process, reading and writing a row a time
  2. Use chunks to split my queue

To clarify the difference existing between the 3 different way of processing the queue let us use 3 simple images:


In simple processing each row represent a possible lock that the other processes must wait for.


In chunk processing given each process knows what records to lock they can go in parallel.


In SKIP LOCKED also if each process have no idea of what rows they need to lock, is enough to say the size of the chunk, and MySQL will return the records available. 


I will repeat the tests for a static queue, and after for a dynamic queue for 20 seconds. Let's see what happens.

Test one - simple processing and static queue:

queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 13:28:25 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 13:28:31 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =     6325.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Avg records proc time     =     220308

Test 2 use the chunks and static queue

Chunk no loop
queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 13:30:18 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 13:30:22 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =     4311.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Avg records proc time     =     391927

Test three - use SKIP LOCKED and static queue:

SKIP LOCK - no loop
queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 13:32:07 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 13:32:11 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =     4311.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Avg records proc time     =     366812

So far, so good.

Time is almost the same (actually in this test, it's exactly the same), normally fluctuating a bit up and down by a few ms.

Picture 1 

 Average execution by commit fluctuates a bit:

Picture 2

Here, the base execution is faster for the simple reason that the application is processing one record against a batch of records of the other two.

Now it is time to see what happens if instead of a static batch, I have a process that fills the queue constantly. If you want picture what will happen on each test, just imagine this:

  • Some pipes will put water in a huge tank
  • The base solution will try to empty the tank using a small glass of water but acting very fast at each run
  • With Chunk it will wait for the water to reach a specific level, then will use a fixed-size bucket
  • Using SKIP LOCK, it will constantly look at the tank and will choose the size of the bucket based on the quantity of the water present.

To simulate that, I will use five threads to write new items, five to process the queue, and will run the test for 20 seconds.

Here we will have some leftovers; that is how much water remains in the tank because the application was not emptied with the given bucket. We can say it is a way to measure the efficiency of the processing, where the optimal sees the tank empty.

Test one -  simple processing and static queue:

Basic no loop
queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 13:42:37 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 13:43:25 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =    48586.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Total Loops executed (sum)=         85
Avg records proc time     =     243400

| count(*) | max(jobId) |
|   143863 |     225000 |

Test 2 use the chunks and static queue:

Chunk no loop
queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 13:44:56 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 13:45:44 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =    47946.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Total Loops executed (sum)=         70
Avg records proc time     =     363559

| count(*) | max(jobId) |
|       53 |     195000 |

Test 3 use SKIP LOCKED and static queue:

queue Processor report:
Start Time                = Tue Jul 28 14:46:45 CEST 2020
End Time                  = Tue Jul 28 14:47:32 CEST 2020
Total Time taken(ms)      =    46324.0
Number of jobs            =          5
Number of Items processed =      15000
Total Loops executed (sum)=       1528
Avg records proc time     =     282658

| count(*) | max(jobId) |
|        0 |       NULL |

 Here, the scenario is a bit different than the one we had with the static queue.

Picture 3

Here, the scenario is a bit different than the one we had with the static queue.

Picture 4

Record processing when comparing by chunk and SKIP LOCK is again more efficient in the second one. This is because it optimizes the size of the “bucket” and given that it can sometimes process fewer records per loop.

Picture 15

As we can see when using SKIP LOCK, the application was able to execute 1528 loops to process the queue against the 70 of the chunk and 85 of the basic approach.

In the end, the only one that was able to empty the tank was the solution with SKIP LOCK.


Processing queues can be simple when we need to process a fixed number of items, but if you need an adaptive approach, then the situation changes. You can find yourself writing quite complex algorithms to optimize the processing.

Using SKIP LOCK helps you in keeping the code/solution simple and move the burden of identifying the record to process onto the RDBMS.

SKIP LOCK is something that other technologies like Oracle-DB and Postgres already implemented, and their developer communities use.

MySQL implementation comes a bit later, and the option is not widely known or used in the developer’s community using MySQL, but it should.

Give it a try and let us know!


SKIP LOCK is declared unsafe for statement replication, you MUST use ROW based replication if you use it.


MySQL 8.0 Hot Rows with NOWAIT and SKIP LOCKED

MySQL 8.0 Reference Manual: Locking Reads



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