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Monitoring MySQL flow control in Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6

 | July 25, 2014 |  Posted In: Insight for DBAs, MySQL, Percona Software, Percona XtraDB Cluster


Monitoring flow control in a Galera cluster is very important. If you do not, you will not understand why writes may sometimes be stalled. Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6 provides 2 status variables for such monitoring: wsrep_flow_control_paused and wsrep_flow_control_paused_ns. Which one should you use?

What is flow control?

Flow control does not exist with regular MySQL replication, but only with Galera replication. It is simply the mechanism nodes are using when they are not able to keep up with the write load: to keep replication synchronous, the node that is starting to lag instructs the other nodes that writes should be paused for some time so it does not get too far behind.

If you are not familiar with this notion, you should read this blogpost.

Triggering flow control and graphing it

For this test, we’ll use a 3-node Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6 cluster. On node 3, we will adjust gcs.fc_limit so that flow control is triggered very quickly and then we will lock the node:

Now we will use sysbench to insert rows on node 1:

Because of flow control, writes will be stalled and sysbench will hang. So after some time, we will release the lock on node 3:

During the whole process, wsrep_flow_control_paused and wsrep_flow_control_paused_ns are recorded every second with mysqladmin ext -i1. We can then build a graph of the evolution of both variables:


While we can clearly see when flow control was triggered on both graphs, it is much easier to know when flow control was stopped with wsrep_flow_control_paused_ns. It would be even more obvious if we have had several timeframes when flow control is in effect.


Monitoring a server is obviously necessary if you want to be able to catch issues. But you need to look at the right metrics. So don’t be scared if you are seeing that wsrep_flow_control_paused is not 0: it simply means that flow control has been triggered at some point since the server started up. If you want to know what is happening right now, prefer wsrep_flow_control_paused_ns.

Stephane Combaudon

Stéphane joined Percona in July 2012, after working as a MySQL DBA for leading French companies such as Dailymotion and France Telecom. In real life, he lives in Paris with his wife and their twin daughters. When not in front of a computer or not spending time with his family, he likes playing chess and hiking.

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