# Clustering

# Distributed Erlang/OTP

Erlang/OTP is a concurrent, fault-tolerant, distributed programming platform. A distributed Erlang/OTP system consists of a number of Erlang runtime systems called 'node'. Nodes connect to each other with TCP/IP sockets and communicate by Message Passing.

---------         ---------
| Node1 | --------| Node2 |
---------         ---------
    |     \     /    |
    |       \ /      |
    |       / \      |
    |     /     \    |
---------         ---------
| Node3 | --------| Node4 |
---------         ---------

# Node

An erlang runtime system called 'node' is identified by a unique name like email addreass. Erlang nodes communicate with each other by the name.

Suppose we start four Erlang nodes on localhost:

erl -name node1@
erl -name node2@
erl -name node3@
erl -name node4@

connect all the nodes:

(node1@> net_kernel:connect_node('node2@').
(node1@> net_kernel:connect_node('node3@').
(node1@> net_kernel:connect_node('node4@').
(node1@> nodes().

# epmd

epmd(Erlang Port Mapper Daemon) is a daemon service that is responsible for mapping node names to machine addresses(TCP sockets). The daemon is started automatically on every host where an Erlang node started.

(node1@> net_adm:names().

Erlang nodes authenticate each other by a magic cookie when communicating. The cookie could be configured by:

1. $HOME/.erlang.cookie

2. erl -setcookie <Cookie>

# Distribution Protocol

Erlang nodes can be connected via different distributed protocols including TCPv4, TCPv6 and TLS.

## Specify the erlang distributed protocol.
## Value: Enum
##  - inet_tcp: the default; handles TCP streams with IPv4 addressing.
##  - inet6_tcp: handles TCP with IPv6 addressing.
##  - inet_tls: using TLS for Erlang Distribution.
## vm.args: -proto_dist inet_tcp
node.proto_dist = inet_tcp

## Specify SSL Options in the file if using SSL for Erlang Distribution.
## Value: File
## vm.args: -ssl_dist_optfile \<File>
## node.ssl_dist_optfile = /ssl_dist.conf

# Cluster Design

The cluster architecture of emqttd broker is based on distributed Erlang/OTP and Mnesia database.

The cluster design could be summarized by the following two rules:

  1. When a MQTT client SUBSCRIBE a Topic on a node, the node will tell all the other nodes in the cluster: I subscribed a Topic.
  2. When a MQTT Client PUBLISH a message to a node, the node will lookup the Topic table and forward the message to nodes that subscribed the Topic.

Finally there will be a global route table(Topic -> Node) that replicated to all nodes in the cluster:

topic1 -> node1, node2
topic2 -> node3
topic3 -> node2, node4

# Topic Trie and Route Table

Every node in the cluster will store a topic trie and route table in mnesia database.

Suppose that we create subscriptions:

client1node1t/+/x, t/+/y
client3node3t/+/x, t/a

Finally the topic trie and route table in the cluster:

|          t             |
|         / \            |
|        +   #           |
|      /  \              |
|    x      y            |
| t/+/x -> node1, node3  |
| t/+/y -> node1         |
| t/#   -> node2         |
| t/a   -> node3         |

# Message Route and Deliver

The brokers in the cluster route messages by topic trie and route table, deliver messages to MQTT clients by subscriptions. Subscriptions are mapping from topic to subscribers, are stored only in the local node, will not be replicated to other nodes.

Suppose client1 PUBLISH a message to the topic 't/a', the message Route and Deliver process:

title: Message Route and Deliver

client1->node1: Publish[t/a]
node1-->node2: Route[t/#]
node1-->node3: Route[t/a]
node2-->client2: Deliver[t/#]
node3-->client3: Deliver[t/a]


# Cluster Setup

Suppose we deploy two nodes cluster on s1.emqx.io, s2.emqx.io:

NodeHost(FQDN)IP and Port
emq@s1.emqx.io oremq@
emq@s2.emqx.io oremq@


The node name is Name@Host , where Host is IP address or the fully qualified host name.

# emq@s1.emqx.io config


node.name = emq@s1.emqx.io


node.name = emq@


The name cannot be changed after node joined the cluster.

# emq@s2.emqx.io config


node.name = emq@s2.emqx.io


node.name = emq@

# Join the cluster

Start the two broker nodes, and 'cluster join ' on emqttd@s2.emqx.io :

$ ./bin/emqttd_ctl cluster join emq@s1.emqx.io

Join the cluster successfully.
Cluster status: [{running_nodes,['emq@s1.emqx.io','emq@s2.emqx.io']}]

Or 'cluster join' on emq@s1.emqx.io :

$ ./bin/emqttd_ctl cluster join emq@s2.emqx.io

Join the cluster successfully.
Cluster status: [{running_nodes,['emq@s1.emqx.io','emq@s2.emqx.io']}]

Query the cluster status:

$ ./bin/emqttd_ctl cluster status

Cluster status: [{running_nodes,['emq@s1.emqx.io','emq@s2.emqx.io']}]

# Leave the cluster

Two ways to leave the cluster:

  1. leave: this node leaves the cluster
  2. remove: remove other nodes from the cluster

emq@s2.emqx.io node tries to leave the cluster:

$ ./bin/emqttd_ctl cluster leave

Or remove emq@s2.emqx.io node from the cluster on emq@s1.emqx.io :

$ ./bin/emqttd_ctl cluster remove emq@s2.emqx.io

# Node Discovery and Autocluster

EMQ R2.3 supports node discovery and autocluster with various strategies:

staticAutocluster by static node list
mcastAutocluster by UDP Multicast
dnsAutocluster by DNS A Record
etcdAutocluster using etcd
k8sAutocluster on Kubernetes

# Autocluster by static node list

cluster.discovery = static

## Cluster with static node list

cluster.static.seeds = emq1@,ekka2@

# Autocluster by IP Multicast

cluster.discovery = mcast

## Cluster with multicast

cluster.mcast.addr =

cluster.mcast.ports = 4369,4370

cluster.mcast.iface =

cluster.mcast.ttl = 255

cluster.mcast.loop = on

# Autocluster by DNS A Record

cluster.discovery = dns

## Cluster with DNS

cluster.dns.name = localhost

cluster.dns.app  = ekka

# Autocluster using etcd

cluster.discovery = etcd

## Cluster with Etcd

cluster.etcd.server =

cluster.etcd.prefix = emqcl

cluster.etcd.node_ttl = 1m

# Autocluster on Kubernetes

cluster.discovery = k8s

## Cluster with k8s

cluster.k8s.apiserver =

cluster.k8s.service_name = ekka

## Address Type: ip | dns
cluster.k8s.address_type = ip

## The Erlang application name
cluster.k8s.app_name = ekka

# Network Partition and Autoheal

Enable autoheal of Network Partition:

cluster.autoheal = on

When network partition occurs, the following steps are performed to heal the cluster if autoheal is enabled:

  1. Node reports the partitions to a leader node which has the oldest guid.
  2. Leader node create a global netsplit view and choose one node in the majority as coordinator.
  3. Leader node requests the coordinator to autoheal the network partition.
  4. Coordinator node reboots all the nodes in the minority side.

# Node down and Autoclean

A down node will be removed from the cluster if autoclean is enabled:

cluster.autoclean = 5m

# Session across Nodes

The persistent MQTT sessions (clean session = false) are across nodes in the cluster.

If a persistent MQTT client connected to node1 first, then disconnected and connects to node2, the MQTT connection and session will be located on different nodes:

                           |-->| session |
                           |   -----------
             node2         |
          --------------   |
 client-->| connection |<--|

# The Firewall

If the nodes need to go through a Firewall, TCP port 4369 must be allowed for epmd , as well as a sequential range of TCP ports for communication between the distributed nodes.

That range of ports for erlang distribution is configured in etc/emq.conf , defaults to 6369-7369:

## Distributed node port range
node.dist_listen_min = 6369
node.dist_listen_max = 7369

So by default, make sure TCP ports 4369 and 6369-7369 are allowed by your Firewall roles.

# Consistent Hash and DHT

Consistent Hash and DHT are popular in the design of NoSQL databases. Cluster of emqttd broker could support 10 million size of global routing table now. We could use the Consistent Hash or DHT to partition the routing table, and evolve the cluster to larger size.