RavenDB Auto Sharding Bundle Design–Early Thoughts

time to read 4 min | 725 words

Originally posted at 4/19/2011

RavenDB Auto Sharding is an implementation of sharding on the server. As the name implies, it aims to remove all sharding concerns from the user. At its core, the basic idea is simple. You have a RavenDB node with the sharding bundle installed. You just work with it normally.

At some point you realize that the data has grown too large for a single server, so you need to shard the data across multiple servers. You bring up another RavenDB server with the sharding bundle installed. You wait for the data to re-shard (during which time you can still read / write to the servers). You are done.

At least, that is the goal. In practice, there is one step that you would have to do, you would have to tell us how to shard your data. You do that by defining a sharding document, which looks like this:

{ // Raven/Sharding/ByUserName
  "Limits": [3],
  "Replica": 2
  "Definitions": [
      "EntityName": "Users",
      "Paths": ["Username"]
      "EntityName": "Posts",
      "Paths": ["AuthorName"]

There are several things to not here. We define a sharding document that shards on just one key, and the shard key has a length of 3. We also define different ways to retrieve the sharding key from the documents based on the entity name. This is important, since you want to be able to say that posts by the same user would sit on the same shard.

Based on the shard keys, we generate the sharding metadata:

{ "Id": "chunks/1", "Shards": ["http://shard1:8080", "http://shard1-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["aaa", "ddd"] }
{ "Id": "chunks/2", "Shards": ["http://shard1:8080", "http://shard2-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["ddd", "ggg"] }
{ "Id": "chunks/3", "Shards": ["http://shard2:8080", "http://shard3-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["ggg", "lll"] }
{ "Id": "chunks/4", "Shards": ["http://shard2:8080", "http://shard1-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["lll", "ppp"] }
{ "Id": "chunks/5", "Shards": ["http://shard3:8080", "http://shard2-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["ppp", "zzz"] }
{ "Id": "chunks/6", "Shards": ["http://shard3:8080", "http://shard3-backup:8080"], "Name": "ByUserName", "Range": ["000", "999"] }

This information gives us a way to make queries which are both directed (against a specific node, assuming we include the shard key in the query) or global (against all shards).

Note that we split the data into chunks, each chunk is going to be sitting in two different servers (because of the Replica setting above). We can determine which shard holds which chunk by using the Range data.

Once  a chunk grows too large (25,000 documents, by default), it will split, potentially moving to another server / servers.