11.2. TheoryΒΆ

Before we move on, we need some theory.

As you see in etc/default.ini there is a section called [cluster]

[cluster]
q=8
r=2
w=2
n=3
  • q - The number of shards.
  • r - The number of copies of a document with the same revision that have to be read before CouchDB returns with a 200 and the document. If there is only one copy of the document accessible, then that is returned with 200.
  • w - The number of nodes that need to save a document before a write is returned with 201. If the nodes saving the document is <w but >0, 202 is returned.
  • n - The number of copies there is of every document. Replicas.

When creating a database or doing a read or write you can send your own values with request and thereby overriding the defaults in default.ini.

We will focus on the shards and replicas for now.

A shard is a part of a database. The more shards, the more you can scale out. If you have 4 shards, that means that you can have at most 4 nodes. With one shard you can have only one node, just the way CouchDB 1.x is.

Replicas adds fail resistance, as some nodes can be offline without everything comes crashing down.

  • n=1 All nodes must be up.
  • n=2 Any 1 node can be down.
  • n=3 Any 2 nodes can be down.
  • etc

Computers go down and sysadmins pull out network cables in a furious rage from time to time, so using n<2 is asking for downtime. Having too high a value of n adds servers and complexity without any real benefit. The sweetspot is at n=3.

Say that we have a database with 3 replicas and 4 shards. That would give us a maximum of 12 nodes. 4*3=12 Every shard have 3 copies.

We can lose any 2 nodes and still read and write all documents.

What happens if we lose more nodes? It depends on how lucky we are. As long as there is at least one copy of every shard online, we can read and write all documents.

So, if we are very lucky then we can lose 8 nodes at maximum.