Managing farms of MySQL servers with MySQL Fabric

While built-in replication has been a major cause for MySQL’s wide adoption, official tools to help DBAs manage replication topologies have typically been missing from the picture. The community has produced many good products to fill in this gap, but recently, Oracle has been filling it too with the addition of MySQL Utilities to the mix.

One part of the Utilities that has been generating interest recently is MySQL Fabric, and we will be discussing this project in an upcoming series of blog posts.

According to the official documentation, MySQL Fabric is a system for managing farms of MySQL Servers. At the current stage, the system focuses on two areas of MySQL operations: High Availability and Sharding, relying on GTID based replication (available only on MySQL >= 5.6.5) for the former. Its development has been spearheaded by Mats Kindahl, senior principal software developer in MySQL at Oracle, who explains what it is in this post and again in this short video interview at Percona Live earlier this month.

We will start this series of posts by providing a broad overview of the project, and then we’ll dig deeper on each area on subsequent posts.

What it does

Currently, MySQL Fabric has two areas of server management in which it can help DBAs: High Availability and Sharding.

In terms of High Availability, MySQL Fabric will let you pool a group of MySQL servers and treat them as a single logical unit, with a Primary server that can take reads and writes, and Secondary servers that can take reads (and be used to scale those) as well as take over the Primary role in the event of a failure.

As we’ll see, MySQL Fabric relies on GTID based replication to work. By default, the tool won’t do any automatic failover, but it can be configured to do that, and it does work. In future posts of this series, we’ll spend some time explaining how to set up an HA group of MySQL servers using MySQL Fabric, and then we’ll set to try and break them in many ways. Stay tuned if you’re interested in the results 🙂

When it comes to Sharding, MySQL Fabric relies on special connectors to work. Without the connectors, you can still use the mysqlfabric command line tool to manage shards (and even migrate them from one server to another), but you will have to modify your application to include logic to decide which shard should be used for any given query. When using the connectors, the MySQL connection will actually be established with MySQL Fabric (with an XML RPC service we’ll talk about later). The connectors cache the needed information (this is a simplification, we’ll go into more detail on the next post) so that the client can make the right routing decision when reading or writing data to a sharded table.

We feel that the HA features are more mature now, but the Sharding ones look promising. Also, MySQL Fabric is extensible, and we think this is one area where it can grow a lot (for example, by using Shard Query with MySQL Fabric to support parallel distributed queries).

General Concepts

In order to understand MySQL Fabric we first need to present some terminology used by the project. We’ll start by listing basic definitions, and then we’ll go into more details when needed.

  • Group. A collection of mysqld servers.
  • Global group. Special groups that store updates that must be propagated to all shards.
  • Node. A running instance of MySQL Fabric.
  • Shard. A horizontal partition of data in a table.
  • Primary. A group member that has been designated master.
  • Secondary. A group member that is read only.


A server here is actually a mysqld instance, though ideally, all instances of a group should be on different servers. However, while testing, you can create multiple instances on the same host since you don’t really need HA.

A given server can only be part of a single group. This may seem confusing at first, but when you realize MySQL Fabric relies on replication (using GTID) for most of its work, it becomes clearer. A given MySQL server can only have one master and therefore it makes no sense for it to belong to multiple groups.

Groups have identifiers, which are just symbolic names that need to comply with some basic rules

Global group

Global groups are special groups involved in Sharding. They are used to propagate changes global to all shards (like schema changes, though not only that).


Note that a node is *not* a MySQL server that’s part of a group. It is a python program that, among other things, provides the XML-RPC server that is used by special connectors and by the ‘mysqlfabric’ command line client. A node will, however, need a mysqld instance. This instance is called the backend store and will be used by MySQL Fabric to save all the information it needs to manage servers.


We said a shard is an horizontal partition of data in a table, but this partition happens at the MySQL Fabric level. MySQL is completely unaware of it, and at the mysqld instance level, a shard is just a table. We’ll talk more about this soon, as it has some consequences.


The primary server is the only writable server in a group. This applies to HA, not to sharding, though you could define a group (and therefore a Primary) per shard and therefore use MySQL Fabric both for sharding, and to provide HA for each shard.


A Secondary server is a member of a group that is available to replace a Primary server on failover, and that is read only.It can also be used to scale out reads. 


 As with anything, MySQL Fabric has its good and bad points. Fortunately, the bulk of the bad points we identified are due to the project being still early in its lifecycle. Considering the latest release is a RC, we’re sure those will go away the future.

On the good side:

  • It is developed by Oracle.

We think this is important, because MySQL did not have a standard tool to manage farms of servers until now. People will still be able to use tools from other providers (or cook their own), but we think it’s good to have a standard offering that’s part of the MySQL packages.

  • It is extensible.

MySQL Fabric feels more like a framework than a closed product. In fact, even some official presentations introduce it as a framework. As a framework, it is implemented in python, a widely available and friendly interpreted language. We believe this means MySQL Fabric should be adaptable to specific needs with little hassle.

  • It is focused on MySQL versions 5.6.10 and newer.

By not worrying about backwards compatibility, implementation should be simpler. Take Secondary server promotion after the Primary goes down as example. GTID makes this much simpler.

On the bad side:

  • It is a bit rough around the edges.

This is expected for a new product, and to be honest, most problems we faced turned out being a documentation issue and not an actual problem with the software. The docs are still a bit green, but source code comments are good and plenty, so if you want to get your hands dirty and really understand how it works, that is the path we suggest.

  • Some things require help from MySQL to be properly implemented, and MySQL does not provide it (yet?).

An example: it is currently impossible to make sure that writes can never go to the wrong shard. As we said earlier, at the individual mysqld server, a shard is just a table, period. Ideally, some future MySQL version should extend the @read_only variable functionality and allow you to selectively mark parts of the data as read only. If we could mark a specific table as read only, or as updatable only when a given condition is met (i.e. WHERE id between <lower bound> and <upper bound>), it would increase the safety of sharding a lot.

  • It is focused on MySQL versions 5.6.10.

Yes, we said that’s good, but the obvious downside is you can’t consider using MySQL Fabric if you’re on an earlier MySQL version, and a lot of people still are.

  • In HA setups, MySQL Fabric itself can become a single point of failure

MySQL Fabric (the XML-RPC ‘Node’) and its data store (the mysqld instance that stores MySQL Fabric’s data) are a single point of failure that needs to be addressed. In practical terms, the impact of MySQL Fabric going down will vary with your use case. If you’re only using the mysqlfabric utility to manage servers, nothing will happen as long as all servers in a Group continue to work. If, however, you’re using one of the special connectors to access the Group, then your application will be down. This is resolvable, and we will discuss some approaches in the HA posts, but we think the best solution going forward is for MySQL Fabric to address this in the future by letting you set up multiple Fabric Nodes and have them monitor each other and promote a new active one if needed.

What comes next

Over the next few days, we will blog more about this, describing how to set up HA and Sharded clusters using MySQL Fabric, walking you through the process, and also trying to see how and when it can fail. We had a lot of fun doing this and we hope you have a good time reading it and experimenting yourself too!

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Comments (17)

  • Jeremy Tinley

    I had the same concern about the HA capacity of the Fabric node. In chatting with Mats Kindhal, it can be any MySQL, even MySQL Cluster, so you can roll your own HA (DRBD/Heartbeat/LoadBalancer/Whatever) on that node to ensure it’s up.

    April 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm
  • Fernando

    Jeremy: Thanks for the comment. That makes sense because the docs say that the Fabric Store is storage engine agnostic, but our main concern is with HA for the xml-rpc service and not the store, as that becomes a single point of failure for new connections. It is not too difficult to resolve, but I think eventually it would be better if Fabric itself provides a solution to this. Perhaps it’s as simple as firing up multiple fabric nodes, and passing a list of them to the connector (something similar can already be done with actual mysql servers in connector/j for example).

    April 30, 2014 at 10:32 am
  • Ben Ustick

    Hey Guys,
    I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I included your article in the InterWorx roundup of April’s best SysAdmin content. Thanks for the valuable resource.


    May 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm
  • MWM

    Dear Fernando,

    Finally, I able to establish a fabric backing store. Define the group of two nodes. Now I want to implement the other end (Client Side).

    In my scenario, my application is deployed on weblogic 12c server. I am not clear about what will be the configurations for creating the datasource. Default MySQL connector/j installed with weblogic is 5.1.22 which does not supports fabric. I downloaded the latest one i.e 5.1.30 and configured with weblogic too but fails :(.

    I think I am missing some basic config or something related to create a datasource.

    I searched a lot to find out the way of doing it but unfortunately fails.

    Kindly, send me any info, link or clue through which ill be able to achieve solution.


    June 3, 2014 at 8:05 am
  • Fernando Ipar


    Are you hitting this error with 5.1.30?:

    June 3, 2014 at 8:09 am
  • MWM

    Dear Fernando,

    No, I am behind this issue and did no faced yet.

    Actually, in every example I saw that connections made through Java source code. But I want to know that how fabric would be configure as a datasource.

    Assume, datasource defined as host: port:3306 lets say is down so how my application deployed on weblogic would know the new master.

    So I am confuse about the datasource configuration in weblogic in case of Fabric setup.

    Actually I am searching on internet from last 8 continous hours … 🙂 I hope i delivered the problem situation clearly.


    June 3, 2014 at 8:41 am
  • Fernando Ipar


    I have not tried to use it as a datasource within a container, but I would try to do it similarly to the example I put on that bug report, that is, establishing the connection with Fabric and not any specific mysql instance.

    As for how your application would know your new master, I was unable to do more testing at this stage due to that bug, but I expect it to work similarly to the Python connector. That would mean the JDBC driver gets a list of servers and roles and caches that, and that the application should attempt to establish a new connection (Again, with Fabric) if a query fails because one of the nodes becomes unavailable. This way, the drive will get an updated list of servers/roles.

    I have it on my list to blog more about using Fabric from Java but for the time being it seems I will wait for the next Connector/J release for this.

    June 3, 2014 at 8:53 am
  • MWM

    Dear Fernando,

    Your Statement:

    “I have not tried to use it as a datasource within a container, but I would try to do it similarly to the example I put on that bug report, that is, establishing the connection with Fabric and not any specific mysql instance.”

    Totally agreed. Lets see when we’ll get chance to move forward. 🙂


    June 4, 2014 at 1:58 am
  • samuel

    Hi Fernando,

    We are trying fabric to manage servers and make automatic failovers. It’s quite easy to promote a slave into master. But we also want to use mysql-proxy to make load balances, and rw splitting.

    The backend of mysql proxy is mysql servers( or nodes of fabric), if one of the master has gone down and a new master has been promoted, is there any way for mysql proxy to know the promoted master?

    Thanks very much in advance.

    August 15, 2014 at 11:14 am
  • Fernando Ipar

    @samuel: sorry for the delay, I’ve been on vacation for the last couple of weeks.

    There’s currently no way to do this (that I know of, at least), but while I’m no python expert, a cursory look at the code makes me think it should be easy to extend it to hook up other functions (such as notifying mysql-proxy) during promotion.

    Or you can file a bug report with a feature request at I think adding support to call external scripts at the time of promotion/failover would be a great improvement to Fabric.

    September 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm
  • Srinivash A

    Thanks for the good post.
    Having some questions about the internals of mysql fabric. To be more specific
    1. How fabric will decide a Master is down and promote one of the Slaves to Master ?
    2. How fabric handle spilt brain and network partitioning ?
    3. Does fabric uses any Linux HA stack like Pacemaker & Corosync ?

    Any link to the internals of fabric will be more helpful

    December 29, 2014 at 2:31 am
  • Fernando Ipar


    Thanks for the comment!
    I am not a Fabric developer so my replies are based on user experience and source code inspection. With that out of the way:

    > 1. How fabric will decide a Master is down and promote one of the Slaves to Master ?
    Right now (at least as of 1.4 which is the code I looked at) this is handled by a function called is_alive method MySQLServer class in lib/mysql/fabric/ This method basically attempts to establish a connection and returns True upon success or False otherwise.

    This is invoked from a FailureDetector instance, and it is decoupled from the code that promotes a slave, so it only provides a failure detection mechanism.

    It doesn’t seen hard to extend the code to improve the is_alive function to add a more realistic check that includes, for example, average query response time, but what’s built in now is a simple can/cannot connect check.

    > 2. How fabric handle spilt brain and network partitioning ?
    Not as far as I understand. However, it’s important to note that Fabric (currently) works with a single ‘manager’ node (the code that provides the XML-RPC server) and as that’s the only piece of running code making decisions, I would think split brain situations to be uncommon. That said, I can think of at least one bad scenario. Suppose the manager node looses connectivity with the current master but because of a network partition or error, and not of an actual problem with the master. It would eventually promote another slave and start serving R/W connections to it, while existing previous connections may continue to write to the old master. It’s a bit far fetched, but not impossible.

    > 3. Does fabric uses any Linux HA stack like Pacemaker & Corosync ?
    No. I guess the goal is to provide a self-contained HA solution with no external dependencies, but I would see the possibility of only using the connectors and the promotion logic from fabric in combination with something like Pacemaker (say, in a way as PRM works) would be interesting to the community.

    In general, I think Fabric adoption would be wider if there were (properly documented) ways to extend it and integrate it with other technologies. For example, I see a combination of Fabric for HA with Shard Query for query parallelisation as one such case that would be great to have.

    Finally, I don’t have any link to the internals other than the source code, but I can tell you it has lots of good comments/documentation so I’d suggest you refer to it for more details:

    January 1, 2015 at 2:05 pm
  • me

    anyone can tell me if Fabric can manage groups of unrelated data ?
    like two groups of diffrent/unrelated master/slave ? for different web applications

    June 15, 2015 at 9:09 am
  • Fernando Ipar


    You can create as many groups as needed and they don’t need to have any relationship among them (AFAIK, the only time when Fabric works with different but related groups is with sharding, when you can have each shard be an HA group itself). So if you’re using Fabric for HA only, you’ll most likely have several unrelated groups, each with its own Primary, Secondaries and possibly Spares.

    I’m not sure that answers your question though, if you’re more specific about what you need to do with those groups I’ll hopefully be able to help more.

    June 15, 2015 at 10:41 am
  • Zaid

    I was working on the Nodejs Connector for mysql fabric. Just came up with the basic connector which currently support only Range Based Sharding.

    Any comments/suggestions would be highly appreciated.

    September 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm
  • Fernando Ipar

    @Zaid: That’s pretty cool! I’ve added the repo to my watch list to keep up to date with changes, and I’ll try it soon and let you know any useful feedback I may have.

    September 26, 2015 at 7:02 pm
  • Rabindra Thapa

    Fernando Ipar i have presentation on “MySQL FABRIC” can u help me in this?

    October 29, 2015 at 3:40 am

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