Diviner Phabricator User Docs Cluster: Partitioning and Advanced Configuration

Cluster: Partitioning and Advanced Configuration
Phabricator User Documentation (Cluster Configuration)

Guide to partitioning Phabricator applications across multiple database hosts.


You can partition Phabricator's applications across multiple databases. For example, you can move an application like Files or Maniphest to a dedicated database host.

The advantages of doing this are:

  • moving heavily used applications to dedicated hardware can help you scale; and
  • you can match application workloads to hardware or configuration to make operating the cluster easier.

This configuration is complex, and very few installs will benefit from pursuing it. Phabricator will normally run comfortably with a single database master even for large organizations.

Partitioning generally does not do much to increase resilience or make it easier to recover from disasters, and is primarily a mechanism for scaling and operational convenience.

If you are considering partitioning, you likely want to configure replication with a single master first. Even if you choose not to deploy replication, you should review and understand how replication works before you partition. For details, see Cluster: Databases.

Databases also support some advanced configuration options. Briefly:

  • persistent: Allows use of persistent connections, reducing pressure on outbound ports.

See "Advanced Configuration", below, for additional discussion.

What Partitioning Does

When you partition Phabricator, you move all of the data for one or more applications (like Maniphest) to a new master database host. This is possible because Phabricator stores data for each application in its own logical database (like phabricator_maniphest) and performs no joins between databases.

If you're running into scale limits on a single master database, you can move one or more of your most commonly-used applications to a second database host and continue adding users. You can keep partitioning applications until all heavily used applications have dedicated database servers.

Alternatively or additionally, you can partition applications to make operating the cluster easier. Some applications have unusual workloads or requirements, and moving them to separate hosts may make things easier to deal with overall.

For example: if Files accounts for most of the data on your install, you might move it to a different host to make backing up everything else easier.

Configuration Overview

To configure partitioning, you will add multiple entries to cluster.databases with the master role. Each master should specify a new partition key, which contains a list of application databases it should host.

One master may be specified as the default partition. Applications not explicitly configured to be assigned elsewhere will be assigned here.

When you define multiple master databases, you must also specify which master each replica database follows. Here's a simple example config:

"cluster.databases": [
    "host": "db001.corporation.com",
    "role": "master",
    "user": "phabricator",
    "pass": "hunter2!trustno1",
    "port": 3306,
    "partition": [
    "host": "db002.corporation.com",
    "role": "replica",
    "user": "phabricator",
    "pass": "hunter2!trustno1",
    "port": 3306,
    "master": "db001.corporation.com:3306"
    "host": "db003.corporation.com",
    "role": "master",
    "user": "phabricator",
    "pass": "hunter2!trustno1",
    "port": 3306,
    "partition": [
    "host": "db004.corporation.com",
    "role": "replica",
    "user": "phabricator",
    "pass": "hunter2!trustno1",
    "port": 3306,
    "master": "db003.corporation.com:3306"

In this configuration, db001 is a master and db002 replicates it. db003 is a second master, replicated by db004.

Applications have been partitioned like this:

  • db003/db004: Files, Passphrase, Slowvote
  • db001/db002: Default (all other applications)

Not all of the database partition names are the same as the application names. You can get a list of databases with bin/storage databases to identify the correct database names.

After you have configured partitioning, it needs to be committed to the databases. This writes a copy of the configuration to tables on the databases, preventing errors if a webserver accidentally starts with an old or invalid configuration.

To commit the configuration, run this command:

phabricator/ $ ./bin/storage partition

Run this command after making any partition or clustering changes. Webservers will not serve traffic if their configuration and the database configuration differ.

Launching a new Partition

To add a new partition, follow these steps:

  • Set up the new database host or hosts.
  • Add the new database to cluster.databases, but keep its "partition" configuration empty (just an empty list). If this is the first time you are partitioning, you will need to configure your existing master as the new "default". This will let Phabricator interact with it, but won't send any traffic to it yet.
  • Run bin/storage partition.
  • Run bin/storage upgrade to initialize the schemata on the new hosts.
  • Stop writes to the applications you want to move by putting Phabricator in read-only mode, or shutting down the webserver and daemons, or telling everyone not to touch anything.
  • Dump the data from the application databases on the old master.
  • Load the data into the application databases on the new master.
  • Reconfigure the "partition" setup so that Phabricator knows the databases have moved.
  • Run bin/storage partition.
  • While still in read-only mode, check that all the data appears to be intact.
  • Resume writes.

You can do this with a small, rarely-used application first (on most installs, Slowvote might be a good candidate) if you want to run through the process end-to-end before performing a larger, higher-stakes migration.

How Partitioning Works

If you have multiple masters, Phabricator keeps the entire set of schemata up to date on all of them. When you run bin/storage upgrade or other storage management commands, they generally affect all masters (if they do not, they will prompt you to be more specific).

When the application goes to read or write normal data (for example, to query a list of tasks) it only connects to the master which the application it is acting on behalf of is assigned to.

In most cases, a masters will not have any data in most the databases which are not assigned to it. If they do (for example, because they previously hosted the application) the data is ignored. This approach (of maintaining all schemata on all hosts) makes it easier to move data and to quickly revert changes if a configuration mistake occurs.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, all masters keep track of which patches have been applied to that particular master so that bin/storage upgrade can upgrade hosts correctly.

Phabricator does not perform joins across logical databases, so there are no meaningful differences in runtime behavior if two applications are on the same physical host or different physical hosts.

Advanced Configuration

Separate from partitioning, some advanced configuration is supported. These options must be set on database specifications in cluster.databases. You can configure them without actually building a cluster by defining a cluster with only one master.

persistent (bool) Enables persistent connections. Defaults to off.

With persistent connections enabled, Phabricator will keep a pool of database connections open between web requests and reuse them when serving subsequent requests.

The primary benefit of using persistent connections is that it will greatly reduce pressure on how quickly outbound TCP ports are opened and closed. After a TCP port closes, it normally can't be used again for about 60 seconds, so rapidly cycling ports can cause resource exhaustion. If you're seeing failures because requests are unable to bind to an outbound port, enabling this option is likely to fix the issue. This option may also slightly increase performance.

The cost of using persistent connections is that you may need to raise the MySQL max_connections setting: although Phabricator will make far fewer connections, the connections it does make will be longer-lived. Raising this setting will increase MySQL memory requirements and may run into other limits, like open_files_limit, which may also need to be raised.

Persistent connections are enabled per-database. If you always want to use them, set the flag on each configured database in cluster.databases.

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