Wikimedia Performance Team/Active-active MediaWiki

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Active-active MediaWiki (a.k.a. Multi-DC) is a long-term cross-cutting project driven by the Performance Team to give MediaWiki the ability to serve read requests from multiple datacenters. Currently MediaWiki is only capable of serving requests from the primary datacenter.

The ability to serve MediaWiki requests from multiple datacenters will bring significant performance gains to our logged-in users, which currently must connect to our primary datacenter to access content while they are logged in. This is a huge performance penalty for anyone distant from our primary datacenter and stands in contrast to the logged-out experience of getting content from the, often much closer, nearest cache PoP. Logging into our sites is essentially an instantaneous performance penalty due to MediaWiki's current inability to work in multiple datacenters concurrently.

Having MediaWiki served from 2 or more datacenters during normal operations also ensures better resilience in case of a datacenter failure.

Remaining work[edit]

The project was formalised via the Multi-DC strategy RFC in 2015. Since then, Aaron Schulz has driven the effort of improving, upgrading, and porting the various production systems around MediaWiki to work in an active-active context with multiple datacenters serving MediaWiki web requests. You can see the history of subtasks on Phabricator.

This document focuses on remaining work left as of December 2020 – the major blockers left before enabling the active-active serving of MediaWiki.

ChronologyProtector[edit]

ChronologyProtector is the system ensuring that editors see the result of their own actions in subsequent interactions.

The remaining work is deciding where and how to store the data going forward, to deploy any infra and software changes as needed, and to enable these.

Updates:

  • September 2020: an architectural solution has been decided on and the Performance Team, in collaboration with Service Operations, will migrate ChronologyProtector to a new data storage (either Memcached or Redis), during Oct-Dec 2020 (FY 2020-2021 Q2).
  • February 2021: code simplification and backend configuration for Multi-DC ChronologyProtector have been implemented and deployed to production for all wikis.
  • March 2021: Documented CP store requirements for third-parties.
  • March 2021: Task closed.

Session storage[edit]

The session store holds temporary data required for authenticating and authorization procedures such as logging in, creating accounts, and security checks before actions such as editing pages.

The older data storage system has various short-comings beyond mere incompatibility with a multi-DC operation. Even in our current single-DC deployment the annual switchovers are cumbersome, and a replacement has been underway for some time.

The remaining work is to finish the the data storage migration from Redis (non-replicated) to Kask (Cassandra-based).

Updates:

  • 2018-2020 (T206016): Develop and deploy Kask, gradually roll out to all Beta and production wikis.

To do:

  • Document expected and intended service interface behaviour. T270225

CentralAuth storage[edit]

A special kind of session storage for the central login system and cross-wiki "auto login" and "stay logged in" mechanism.

The last part of that work, migrating CentralAuth sessions, is currently scheduled for completion in Oct-Dec 2020 (2020-2021 Q2).

Updates:

  • Nov 2020: Initial assessment done by CPT.
  • Jan 2021: Assessment concluded.
  • Feb 2021: Assessment re-opened.

To do:

  • Decide on a CA backend that is multi-dc compatible.
  • Make any neccecary config or code changes for CentralAuth at WMF.
  • Document CA interface requirements and expectations.

Main Stash store[edit]

The Redis cluster previously used for session storage is also host to other miscellaneous application data through the Main Stash interface. This has different needs than session storage which become more prominent in a multi-DC deployment which make it unsuitable for Cassandra/Kask.

The remaining work is to survey the consumers and needs of Main Stash, decide how to accomodate them going forward. E.g. would it help if we migrated some of its consumers elsewhere and have a simpler replacement for the rest? Also: carry out any software and infra changes as needed.

Updates:

  • June 2020: The plan is to move this data to a new small MariaDB cluster. This project requires fixing "makeGlobalKey"" in SqlBagOStuff, and new hardware. This is being procured and set up in Q2 2020-2021 by the Data Persistence Team. The Performance Team will take care of migrating the Main Stash as soon as the new database cluster is available, i.e. between Oct 2020 and Mar 2021 (FY 2020-2021 Q2 or Q3).
  • July 2020: SqlBagOStuff now supports makeGlobalKey and can work with separate DB connections outside the local wiki. - T229062
  • Sep 2020: Hardware procurement submitted. Oct 2020: Procurement approved as part of larger order. Dec 2020: Hardware arrived. - T264584
  • Jan 2021: Hardware racked and being provisioned. - T269324
  • Feb 2021: MySQL service online and replication configured. - T269324

To do:

MariaDB cross-datacenter secure writes[edit]

MediaWiki being active-active means that writes still only go to the primary datacenter, however a fallback is required for edge cases where a write is attempted in a secondary datacenter. In order to preserve our users' privacy, writes need to be sent encrypted across datacenters. Multiple solutions are being considered, but a decision has yet to be made on which one will be implemented. This work will be a collaboration between the Data Persistence Team and the Performance Team. We hope for it to happen during fiscal year 2020-2021.

Updates:

  • July 2020: Potential solutions evoked so far: Connect with TLS to MariaDB from PHP directly, ProxySQL, dumb TCP tunnel, Envoy as TCP tunnel?, HAProxy in TCP mode.
  • Dec 2020: Leaning toward a tunnel approach, ProxySQL would take too long to set up and test from scratch.

To do:

  • Decide on a proxy or other connection method.
  • Test, deploy, monitor, and enable it.

ResourceLoader file dependency store[edit]

Currently written to a core wiki table using a primary DB connection, must be structured such that writes are done within a secondary DC and then replicated. The plain is to migrate it toward the Main Stash instead.

  • Lead: Performance Team (Aaron).
  • Task: T113916

Updates:

  • July 2019: Implement DepStore abstraction, decoupled from using primary DB, and now includes a KeyValue implementation that supports Main Stash.
  • May 2020: Rolled out to Beta Cluster.
  • May 2020: Further roll out halted due to storage space concerns (legacy Main Stash not equiped to handle added RL data). Blocked on the new Main Stash backend coming online (see above).

To do:

  • After the new Main Stash backend comes online, proceed with the roll out.

CDN routing[edit]

Remaining work is to agree on the MW requirements, and then write, test and deploy the VCL traffic routing configuration.

  • Assignee: SRE (Traffic team, or Service Operations)
  • In collaboration with Performance Team (Aaron, Timo).
  • Task: T91820

Updates:

  • May 2020: Aaron and Timo have thought through all relevant scenarioes and drafted the requirements at T91820.
  • June 2020: Audit confirms that relevant routing cookies and headers are in place on the MW side.

To do:

  • Write and test VCL logic.
  • Enable it!

History[edit]

For notes from 2015-2016, see Multi datacenter strategy for MediaWiki/Progress.