Move tables between keyspaces without downtime

These workflows can have a significant impact on the source tablets (which are often in production) β€” especially when a PRIMARY tablet is used as a source. You can limit the impact on the source tablets using the --vreplication_copy_phase_max_* vttablet flags

Command #

MoveTables -- <options> <action> <workflow identifier>


MoveTables -- [--source=<sourceKs>] [--tables=<tableSpecs>] [--cells=<cells>] 
  [--tablet_types=<source_tablet_types>] [--all] [--exclude=<tables>] [--auto_start] 
  [--stop_after_copy] [--timeout=timeoutDuration] [--reverse_replication] [--keep_data] 
  [--keep_routing_rules] [--on-ddl=<ddl-action>] [--source_time_zone=<mysql_time_zone>]
  <action> <workflow identifier>

Description #

MoveTables is used to start and manage workflows to move one or more tables from an external database or an existing Vitess keyspace into a new Vitess keyspace. The target keyspace can be unsharded or sharded.

MoveTables is typically used for migrating data into Vitess or to implement vertical sharding. You might use the former when you first start using Vitess and the latter if you want to distribute your load across servers without sharding tables.

Parameters #

action #

MoveTables is an "umbrella" command. The action sub-command defines the operation on the workflow. Action must be one of the following: Create, Show, Progress, SwitchTraffic, ReverseTrafffic, Cancel, or Complete.

Create #

Create sets up and creates a new workflow. The workflow name should not conflict with that of an existing workflow.

Show #

Show displays useful information about a workflow. (At this time the Workflow Show command gives more information. This will be improved over time.)

Progress #

Progress reports the progress of a workflow by showing the percentage of data copied across targets, if workflow is in copy state, and the replication lag between the target and the source once the copy phase is completed.

It is too expensive to get real-time row counts of tables, using count(*), say. So we use the statistics available in the information_schema to approximate copy progress. This data can be significantly off (up to 50-60%) depending on the utilization of the underlying mysql server resources. You can manually run analyze table to update the statistics if so desired.

SwitchTraffic #

SwitchTraffic switches traffic forward for the tablet_types specified. This replaces the previous SwitchReads and SwitchWrites commands with a single one. It is now possible to switch all traffic with just one command, and this is the default behavior. Also, you can now switch replica, rdonly and primary traffic in any order: earlier you needed to first SwitchReads (for replicas and rdonly tablets) first before SwitchWrites.

ReverseTraffic #

ReverseTraffic switches traffic in the reverse direction for the tablet_types specified. The traffic should have been previously switched forward using SwitchTraffic for the cells and tablet_types specified.

Cancel #

Cancel can be used if a workflow was created in error or was misconfigured and you prefer to create a new workflow instead of fixing this one. Cancel can only be called if no traffic has been switched. It removes vreplication-related artifacts like rows from the vreplication and copy_state tables in the sidecar _vt database along with routing rules and blacklisted tables from the topo and, by default, the target tables on the target keyspace (see --keep_data and --rename_tables).

Complete #

This is a destructive command

Complete is used after all traffic has been switched. It removes vreplication-related artifacts like rows from vreplication and copy_state tables in the sidecar _vt database along with routing rules and and blacklisted tables from the topo. By default, the source tables are also dropped on the target keyspace (see --keep_data and --rename_tables).

options #

Each action has additional options/parameters that can be used to modify its behavior.

actions are common to both MoveTables and Reshard workflows. Only the create action has different parameters, all other actions have common options and similar semantics.

--all #

optional cannot specify table_specs if --all is specified

Move all tables from the source keyspace.

--auto_start #

default true

Normally the workflow starts immediately after it is created. If this flag is set to false then the workflow is in a Stopped state until you explicitly start it.

Uses #
  • Allows updating the rows in _vt.vreplication after MoveTables has setup the streams. For example, you can add some filters to specific tables or change the projection clause to modify the values on the target. This provides an easier way to create simpler Materialize workflows by first using MoveTables with auto_start false, updating the BinlogSource as required by your Materialize and then start the workflow.
  • Changing the copy_state and/or pos values to restart a broken MoveTables workflow from a specific point of time

--cells #

default local cell (of source tablet)

Comma seperated list of Cell(s) and/or CellAlias(es) to replicate from.

Uses #
  • Improve performance by picking a tablet in cells in network proximity with the target
  • Reduce bandwidth costs by skipping cells that are in different availability zones
  • Select cells where replica lags are lower

--defer-secondary-keys #

default false

This flag is currently experimental.

If true, any secondary keys are dropped from the table definitions on the target shard(s) as we first initialize the tables for the copy phase. The exact same key definitions are then re-added when the copy phase completes for each table.

With this method all secondary index records for the table are generated in one bulk operation. This should significantly improve the overall copy phase execution time on large tables with many secondary keys β€” especially with MySQL 8.0.31 and later due to InnoDB's support for parallel index builds. This is logically similar to the mysqldump --disable-keys option.

--drop_foreign_keys #

default false

If true, tables in the target keyspace will be created without any foreign keys that exist on the source.

--dry_run #

default false

For the SwitchTraffic, ReverseTraffic, and Complete actions, you can do a dry run where no actual steps are taken but the command logs all the steps that would be taken.

--exclude #

optional only applies if --all is specified

If moving all tables, specifies tables to be skipped.

--keep_data #

default false

Usually, the target tables are deleted by Cancel. If this flag is used the target tables will not be deleted.

--keep_routing_rules #

default false

Usually, any routing rules created by the workflow in the source and target keyspace are removed by Complete or Cancel. If this flag is used the routing rules will be left in place.

--max_replication_lag_allowed #

default the value used for --timeout

While executing SwitchTraffic we ensure that the VReplication lag for the workflow is less than this duration, otherwise report an error and don't attempt the switch. The calculated VReplication lag is the estimated maximum lag across workflow streams between the last event seen at the source and the last event processed by the target (which would be a heartbeat event if we're fully caught up). Usually, when VReplication has caught up, this lag should be very small (under a second).

While switching write traffic, we temporarily make the source databases read-only, and wait for the targets to catchup. This means that the application can effectively be partially down for this cutover period as writes will pause or error out. While switching write traffic this flag can ensure that you only switch traffic if the current lag is low, thus limiting this period of write-unavailability and avoiding it entirely if we're not likely to catch up within the --timeout window.

While switching read traffic this can also be used to set an approximate upper bound on how stale reads will be against the replica tablets when using @replica shard targeting.

--on-ddl #

default IGNORE

This flag allows you to specify what to do with DDL SQL statements when they are encountered in the replication stream from the source. The values can be as follows:

  • IGNORE: Ignore all DDLs (this is also the default, if a value for on-ddl is not provided).
  • STOP: Stop when DDL is encountered. This allows you to make any necessary changes to the target. Once changes are made, updating the workflow state to Running will cause VReplication to continue from just after the point where it encountered the DDL. Alternatively you may want to Cancel the workflow and create a new one to fully resync with the source.
  • EXEC: Apply the DDL, but stop if an error is encountered while applying it.
  • EXEC_IGNORE: Apply the DDL, but ignore any errors and continue replicating.

We caution against against using EXEC or EXEC_IGNORE for the following reasons:

  • You may want a different schema on the target
  • You may want to apply the DDL in a different way on the target
  • The DDL may take a long time to apply on the target and may disrupt replication, performance, and query execution while it is being applied (if serving traffic from the target)

--no-routing-rules #

default false

Do not create routing rules for the tables being moved when the workflow is created. This implies that you should not use global routing or send traffic to the target keyspace through a vtgate. See and for a use-case and more details.

--rename_tables #

default false

During Complete or Cancel operations, the tables are renamed instead of being deleted. Currently the new name is _<table_name>_old.

We use the same renaming logic used by pt-online-schema-change. Such tables are automatically skipped by vreplication if they exist on the source.

--reverse_replication #

default true

SwitchTraffic for primary tablet types, by default, starts a reverse replication stream with the current target as the source, replicating back to the original source. This enables a quick and simple rollback mechanism using ReverseTraffic. This reverse workflow name is that of the original workflow concatenated with _reverse.

If set to false these reverse replication streams will not be created and you will not be able to rollback once you have switched write traffic over to the target.

--source #


Name of existing keyspace that contains the tables to be moved.

--source_time_zone #

default ""

Specifying this flag causes all DATETIME fields to be converted from the given time zone into UTC. It is expected that the application has stored all DATETIME fields, in all tables being moved, in the specified time zone. On the target these DATETIME values will be stored in UTC.

As a best practice, Vitess expects users to run their MySQL servers in UTC. So we do not specify a target time zone for the conversion. It is expected that the time zone tables have been pre-populated on the target mysql servers.

Any reverse replication streams running after a SwitchWrites will do the reverse date conversion on the source.

Note that selecting the DATETIME columns from the target will now give the times in UTC. It is expected that the application will perform any conversions using, for example, SET GLOBAL time_zone = 'US/Pacific'or convert_tz().

Also note that only columns of DATETIME data types are converted. If you store DATETIME values as VARCHAR or VARBINARY strings, setting this flag will not convert them.

--stop_after_copy #

optional default false

If set, the workflow will stop once the Copy phase has been completed i.e. once all tables have been copied and VReplication decides that the lag is small enough to start replicating, the workflow state will be set to Stopped.

Uses #
  • If you just want a consistent snapshot of all the tables you can set this flag. The workflow will stop once the copy is done and you can then mark the workflow as Complete.

--tables #

optional one of --tables or --all needs to be specified


  • a comma-separated list of tables

    • if target keyspace is unsharded OR
    • if target keyspace is sharded AND the tables being moved are already defined in the target's vschema

    Example: MoveTables -- --source commerce --tables 'customer,corder' Create customer.commerce2customer


  • the JSON table section of the vschema for associated tables

    • if target keyspace is sharded AND
    • tables being moved are not yet present in the target's vschema

    Example: MoveTables -- --source commerce --tables '{"t1":{"column_vindexes": [{"column": "id1", "name": "hash"}]}, "t2":{"column_vindexes": [{"column": "id2", "name": "hash"}]}}' Create customer.commerce2customer

--tablet_types #

default --vreplication_tablet_type parameter value for the tablet. --vreplication_tablet_type has the default value of "in_order:REPLICA,PRIMARY".

Source tablet types to replicate from (e.g. PRIMARY, REPLICA, RDONLY). The value specified impacts tablet selection for the workflow.

--timeout #

default 30s

For primary tablets, SwitchTraffic first stops writes on the source primary and waits for the replication to the target to catchup with the point where the writes were stopped. If the wait time is longer than timeout the command will error out. For setups with high write qps you may need to increase this value.

workflow identifier #

All workflows are identified by targetKeyspace.workflow where targetKeyspace is the name of the keyspace to which the tables are being moved. workflow is a name you assign to the MoveTables workflow to identify it.

The most basic MoveTables Workflow lifecycle #

  1. Initiate the migration using Create
    MoveTables -- --source=<sourceKs> --tables=<tableSpecs> Create <targetKs.workflow>
  2. Monitor the workflow using Show or Progress
    MoveTables Show <targetKs.workflow> or
    MoveTables Progress <targetKs.workflow>
  3. Confirm that data has been copied over correctly using VDiff
  4. Cutover to the target keyspace with SwitchTraffic
    MoveTables SwitchTraffic <targetKs.workflow>
  5. Cleanup vreplication artifacts and source tables with Complete
    MoveTables Complete <targetKs.workflow>

Common use cases for MoveTables #

Adopting Vitess #

For those wanting to try out Vitess for the first time, MoveTables provides an easy way to route part of their workload to Vitess with the ability to migrate back at any time without any risk. You point a vttablet to your existing MySQL installation, spin up an unsharded Vitess cluster and use a MoveTables workflow to start serving some tables from Vitess. You can also go further and use a Reshard workflow to experiment with a sharded version of a part of your database.

See this user guide for detailed steps.

Vertical Sharding #

For existing Vitess users you can easily move one or more tables to another keyspace, either for balancing load or as preparation for sharding your tables.

See this user guide which describes how MoveTables works in the local example provided in the Vitess repo.

More Reading #