Horizontal Sharding (Tutorial, automated)

This guide shows you an example about how to apply range-based sharding process in an existing unsharded Vitess keyspace using the horizontal resharding workflow. In this example, we will reshard from 1 shard "0" into 2 shards "-80" and "80-".


The horizontal resharding process mainly contains the following steps (each step is a phase in the workflow):

  1. Copy schema from original shards to destination shards. (Phase: CopySchemaShard)
  2. Copy the data with a batch process called vtworker (Phase: SplitClone). more details
  3. Check filtered replication (Phase: WaitForFilteredReplication). more details
  4. Check copied data integrity using vtworker batch process in the mode to compare the source and destination data. (Phase: SplitDiff)
  5. Migrate all the serving rdonly tablets in the original shards. (Phase: MigrateServedTypeRdonly)
  6. Migrate all the serving replica tablets in the original shards. (Phase: MigrateServedTypeReplica)
  7. Migrate all the serving master tablets in the original shards. (Phase: MigrateServedTypeMaster) more details


You should complete the Getting Started guide (please finish all the steps before Try Vitess resharding) and have left the cluster running. Then, please follow these steps before running the resharding process:

  1. Configure sharding information. By running the command below, we tell Vitess to shard the data using the page column through the provided VSchema.

    vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh ApplyVSchema -vschema "$(cat vschema.json)" test_keyspace
  2. Bring up tablets for 2 additional shards: test_keyspace/-80 and test_keyspace/80- (you can learn more about sharding key range here):

    vitess/examples/local$ ./sharded-vttablet-up.sh

    Initialize replication by electing the first master for each of the new shards:

    vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh InitShardMaster -force test_keyspace/-80 test-200
    vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh InitShardMaster -force test_keyspace/80- test-300

    After this set up, you should see the shards on Dashboard page of vtctld UI (http://localhost:15000). There should be 1 serving shard named "0" and 2 non-serving shards named "-80" and "80-". Click the shard node, you can inspect all its tablets information.

  3. Bring up a vtworker process, which can be connected through port 15033. (The number of vtworker should be the same of original shards, we start one vtworker process here since we have only one original shard in this example.)

    vitess/examples/local$ ./vtworker-up.sh

    You can verify this vtworker process set up through http://localhost:15032/Debugging. It should be pinged successfully. After you ping the vtworker, please click "Reset Job". Otherwise, the vtworker is not ready for executing other tasks.

Horizontal resharding workflow

Create the workflow

  1. Open the Workflows section on the left menu of vtctld UI (http://localhost:15000). Click the "+" button in the top right corner to open the "Create a new Workflow" dialog.
  2. Fill in the "Create a new Workflow" dialogue following the instructions below (you can checkout our example here):
    • Select the "Skip Start" checkbox if you don't want to start the workflow immediately after creation. If so, you need to click a "Start" button in the workflow bar later to run the workflow.
    • Open the "Factory Name" menu and select "Horizontal Resharding". This field defines the type of workflow you want to create.
    • Fill in test_keyspace in the "Keyspace" slot.
    • Fill in localhost:15033 in the "vtworker Addresses" slot.
    • Unselect the "enable_approvals" checkbox if you don't want to manually approve task executions for canarying. (We suggest you to keep the default selected choice since this will enable the canary feature)
  3. Click "Create" button at the bottom of the dialog. You will see a workflow node created in the Workflows page if the creation succeeds. The workflow has started running now if "Skip Start" is not selected.

Another way to start the workflow is through the vtctlclient command, you can also visualize the workflow on vtctld UI Workflows section after executing the command:

vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh WorkflowCreate -skip_start=false horizontal_resharding -keyspace=test_keyspace -vtworkers=localhost:15033 -enable_approvals=true

When creating the resharding workflow, the program automatically detect the source shards and destination shards and create tasks for the resharding process. After the creation, click the workflow node, you can see a list of child nodes. Each child node represents a phase in the workflow (each phase represents a step mentioned in Overview). Further click a phase node, you can inspect tasks in this phase. For example, in the "CopySchemaShard" phase, it includes tasks to copy schema to 2 destination shards, therefore you can see task node "Shard -80" and "Shard 80-". You should see a page similar to this.

Approvals of Tasks Execution (Canary feature)

Once the workflow start to run (click the "Start" button if you selected "Skip Start" and the workflow hasn't started yet.), you need to approve the task execution for each phase if "enable_approvals" is selected. The approvals include 2 stages. The first stage approves only the first task, which runs as canarying. The second stage approves the remaining tasks.

The resharding workflow runs through phases sequentially. Once the phase starts, you can see the approval buttons for all the stages under the phase node (click the phase node if you didn't see the approval buttons, you should see a page like this). The button is enabled when the corresponding task(s) are ready to run. Click the enabled button to approve task execution, then you can see approved message on the clicked button. The approval buttons are cleared after the phase has finished. The next phase will only starts if its previous phase has finished successfully.

If the workflow is restored from a checkpoint, you will still see the the approval button with approved message when there are running tasks under this approval. But you don't need to approve the same tasks again for a restarted workflow.


A "Retry" button will be enabled under the task node if the task failed (click the task node if your job get stuck but don't see the Retry button). Click this button if you have fixed the bugs and want to retry the failed task. You can retry as many times as you want if the task continuelly failed. The workflow can continue from your failure point once it is fixed.

For example, you might forget to bring up a vtworker process. The task which requires that vtworker process in SplitClone phase will fail. After you fix this, click the retry button on the task node and the workflow will continue to run.

When a task failed, the execution of other tasks under this phase won't be affected if this phase runs tasks in parallel (applied to phase "CopySchemaShard", "SplitClone", "WaitForFilteredReplication"). For phases that runs tasks sequentially, remaining unstarted tasks under this phase will no long be executed. The phases afterwards will no longer be executed.

Checkpoint and Recovery

The resharding workflow tracks the status for every task and checkpoint these status into topology server whenever there is a status update. When a workflow is stopped and restarted by loading the checkpoint in the topology, it can continue to run all the unfinished tasks.

Verify Results and Clean up

After the resharding process, data in the original shard is identically copied to new shards. Data updates will be visible on the new shards, but not on the original shard. You should then see in the vtctld UI Dashboard page that shard 0 becomes non-serving and shard -80 and shard 80- are serving shards. Verify this for yourself: inspect the database content using following commands, then add messages to the guestbook page (you can use script client.sh mentioned here) and inspect using same commands:

# See what's on shard test_keyspace/0
# (no updates visible since we migrated away from it):
vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh ExecuteFetchAsDba test-100 "SELECT * FROM messages"
# See what's on shard test_keyspace/-80:
vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh ExecuteFetchAsDba test-200 "SELECT * FROM messages"
# See what's on shard test_keyspace/80-:
vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh ExecuteFetchAsDba test-300 "SELECT * FROM messages"

You can also checkout the Topology browser on vtctl UI. It shows you the information of the keyrange of shard and their serving status. Each shard should look like this

shard 0

shard -80

shard 80-

After you verify the result, we can remove the original shard since all traffic is being served from the new shards:

vitess/examples/local$ ./vttablet-down.sh

Then we can delete the now-empty shard:

vitess/examples/local$ ./lvtctl.sh DeleteShard -recursive test_keyspace/0

You should then see in the vtctld UI Dashboard page that shard 0 is gone.

Tear down and clean up

Since you already cleaned up the tablets from the original unsharded example by running ./vttablet-down.sh, that step has been replaced with ./sharded-vttablet-down.sh to clean up the new sharded tablets.

vitess/examples/local$ ./vtworker-down.sh
vitess/examples/local$ ./vtgate-down.sh
vitess/examples/local$ ./sharded-vttablet-down.sh
vitess/examples/local$ ./vtctld-down.sh
vitess/examples/local$ ./zk-down.sh


You can checkout the old version tutorial here. It walks you through the resharding process by manually executing commands.

Details in SplitClone phase

vtworker copies data from a paused snapshot. It will pause replication on one rdonly (offline processing) tablet to serve as a consistent snapshot of the data. The app can continue without downtime, since live traffic is served by replica and master tablets, which are unaffected. Other batch jobs will also be unaffected, since they will be served only by the remaining, un-paused rdonly tablets.

During the data copying, vtworker streams the data from a single source to multiple destinations, routing each row based on its keyspace_id. It can automatically figure out which shards to use as the destinations based on the key range that needs to be covered. In our example, shard 0 covers the entire range, so it identifies -80 and 80- as the destination shards, since they combine to cover the same range.

Details in WaitForFilteredReplication phase

Once the copying from a paused snapshot (phase SplitClone) has finished, vtworker turns on filtered replication, which allows the destination shards to catch up on updates that have continued to flow in from the app since the time of the snapshot. After the destination shards are caught up, they will continue to replicate new updates.

Details in MigrateServedTypeMaster phase

During the master migration, the original shard masters will first stop accepting updates. Then the process will wait for the new shard masters to fully catch up on filtered replication before allowing them to begin serving. After the master traffic is migrated, the filtered replication will be stopped. Data updates will be visible on the new shards, but not on the original shards.