Classic Cluster Sharding

Note

Akka Classic pertains to the original Actor APIs, which have been improved by more type safe and guided Actor APIs. Akka Classic is still fully supported and existing applications can continue to use the classic APIs. It is also possible to use the new Actor APIs together with classic actors in the same ActorSystem, see coexistence. For new projects we recommend using the new Actor API.

For the full documentation of this feature and for new projects see Cluster Sharding.

Project Info: Akka Cluster Sharding (classic)
Artifact
com.typesafe.akka
akka-cluster-sharding
2.6-SNAPSHOT
JDK versions
Adopt OpenJDK 8
Adopt OpenJDK 11
Scala versions2.12.10, 2.13.0
JPMS module nameakka.cluster.sharding
License
Readiness level
Since 2.3.0, 2014-03-05
Home pagehttps://akka.io/
API documentation
Forums
Release notesakka.io blog
IssuesGithub issues
Sourceshttps://github.com/akka/akka

Dependency

To use Cluster Sharding, you must add the following dependency in your project:

sbt
libraryDependencies += "com.typesafe.akka" %% "akka-cluster-sharding" % "2.6-SNAPSHOT"
Maven
<dependency>
  <groupId>com.typesafe.akka</groupId>
  <artifactId>akka-cluster-sharding_2.12</artifactId>
  <version>2.6-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>
Gradle
dependencies {
  compile group: 'com.typesafe.akka', name: 'akka-cluster-sharding_2.12', version: '2.6-SNAPSHOT'
}

Sample project

You can look at the Cluster Sharding example project Cluster Sharding example project to see what this looks like in practice.

Introduction

For an introduction to Sharding concepts see Cluster Sharding.

Basic example

This is what an entity actor may look like:

Scala
case object Increment
case object Decrement
final case class Get(counterId: Long)
final case class EntityEnvelope(id: Long, payload: Any)

case object Stop
final case class CounterChanged(delta: Int)

class Counter extends PersistentActor {
  import ShardRegion.Passivate

  context.setReceiveTimeout(120.seconds)

  // self.path.name is the entity identifier (utf-8 URL-encoded)
  override def persistenceId: String = "Counter-" + self.path.name

  var count = 0

  def updateState(event: CounterChanged): Unit =
    count += event.delta

  override def receiveRecover: Receive = {
    case evt: CounterChanged => updateState(evt)
  }

  override def receiveCommand: Receive = {
    case Increment      => persist(CounterChanged(+1))(updateState)
    case Decrement      => persist(CounterChanged(-1))(updateState)
    case Get(_)         => sender() ! count
    case ReceiveTimeout => context.parent ! Passivate(stopMessage = Stop)
    case Stop           => context.stop(self)
  }
}
Java
static class Counter extends AbstractPersistentActor {

  public enum CounterOp {
    INCREMENT,
    DECREMENT
  }

  public static class Get {
    public final long counterId;

    public Get(long counterId) {
      this.counterId = counterId;
    }
  }

  public static class EntityEnvelope {
    public final long id;
    public final Object payload;

    public EntityEnvelope(long id, Object payload) {
      this.id = id;
      this.payload = payload;
    }
  }

  public static class CounterChanged {
    public final int delta;

    public CounterChanged(int delta) {
      this.delta = delta;
    }
  }

  int count = 0;

  // getSelf().path().name() is the entity identifier (utf-8 URL-encoded)
  @Override
  public String persistenceId() {
    return "Counter-" + getSelf().path().name();
  }

  @Override
  public void preStart() throws Exception {
    super.preStart();
    getContext().setReceiveTimeout(Duration.ofSeconds(120));
  }

  void updateState(CounterChanged event) {
    count += event.delta;
  }

  @Override
  public Receive createReceiveRecover() {
    return receiveBuilder().match(CounterChanged.class, this::updateState).build();
  }

  @Override
  public Receive createReceive() {
    return receiveBuilder()
        .match(Get.class, this::receiveGet)
        .matchEquals(CounterOp.INCREMENT, msg -> receiveIncrement())
        .matchEquals(CounterOp.DECREMENT, msg -> receiveDecrement())
        .matchEquals(ReceiveTimeout.getInstance(), msg -> passivate())
        .build();
  }

  private void receiveGet(Get msg) {
    getSender().tell(count, getSelf());
  }

  private void receiveIncrement() {
    persist(new CounterChanged(+1), this::updateState);
  }

  private void receiveDecrement() {
    persist(new CounterChanged(-1), this::updateState);
  }

  private void passivate() {
    getContext().getParent().tell(new ShardRegion.Passivate(PoisonPill.getInstance()), getSelf());
  }
}

The above actor uses event sourcing and the support provided in PersistentActor AbstractPersistentActor to store its state. It does not have to be a persistent actor, but in case of failure or migration of entities between nodes it must be able to recover its state if it is valuable.

Note how the persistenceId is defined. The name of the actor is the entity identifier (utf-8 URL-encoded). You may define it another way, but it must be unique.

When using the sharding extension you are first, typically at system startup on each node in the cluster, supposed to register the supported entity types with the ClusterSharding.start method. ClusterSharding.start gives you the reference which you can pass along. Please note that ClusterSharding.start will start a ShardRegion in proxy only mode when there is no match between the roles of the current cluster node and the role specified in ClusterShardingSettings.

Scala
val counterRegion: ActorRef = ClusterSharding(system).start(
  typeName = "Counter",
  entityProps = Props[Counter],
  settings = ClusterShardingSettings(system),
  extractEntityId = extractEntityId,
  extractShardId = extractShardId)
Java
import akka.japi.Option;
import akka.cluster.sharding.ClusterSharding;
import akka.cluster.sharding.ClusterShardingSettings;

Option<String> roleOption = Option.none();
ClusterShardingSettings settings = ClusterShardingSettings.create(system);
ActorRef startedCounterRegion =
    ClusterSharding.get(system)
        .start("Counter", Props.create(Counter.class), settings, messageExtractor);

The extractEntityId and extractShardId are two messageExtractor defines application specific functions methods to extract the entity identifier and the shard identifier from incoming messages.

Scala
val extractEntityId: ShardRegion.ExtractEntityId = {
  case EntityEnvelope(id, payload) => (id.toString, payload)
  case msg @ Get(id)               => (id.toString, msg)
}

val numberOfShards = 100

val extractShardId: ShardRegion.ExtractShardId = {
  case EntityEnvelope(id, _)       => (id % numberOfShards).toString
  case Get(id)                     => (id % numberOfShards).toString
  case ShardRegion.StartEntity(id) =>
    // StartEntity is used by remembering entities feature
    (id.toLong % numberOfShards).toString
}
Java
import akka.cluster.sharding.ShardRegion;

ShardRegion.MessageExtractor messageExtractor =
    new ShardRegion.MessageExtractor() {

      @Override
      public String entityId(Object message) {
        if (message instanceof Counter.EntityEnvelope)
          return String.valueOf(((Counter.EntityEnvelope) message).id);
        else if (message instanceof Counter.Get)
          return String.valueOf(((Counter.Get) message).counterId);
        else return null;
      }

      @Override
      public Object entityMessage(Object message) {
        if (message instanceof Counter.EntityEnvelope)
          return ((Counter.EntityEnvelope) message).payload;
        else return message;
      }

      @Override
      public String shardId(Object message) {
        int numberOfShards = 100;
        if (message instanceof Counter.EntityEnvelope) {
          long id = ((Counter.EntityEnvelope) message).id;
          return String.valueOf(id % numberOfShards);
        } else if (message instanceof Counter.Get) {
          long id = ((Counter.Get) message).counterId;
          return String.valueOf(id % numberOfShards);
        } else {
          return null;
        }
      }
    };

This example illustrates two different ways to define the entity identifier in the messages:

  • The Get message includes the identifier itself.
  • The EntityEnvelope holds the identifier, and the actual message that is sent to the entity actor is wrapped in the envelope.

Note how these two messages types are handled in the extractEntityId function entityId and entityMessage methods shown above. The message sent to the entity actor is the second part of the tuple returned by the extractEntityId what entityMessage returns and that makes it possible to unwrap envelopes if needed.

A shard is a group of entities that will be managed together. The grouping is defined by the extractShardId function shown above. For a specific entity identifier the shard identifier must always be the same. Otherwise the entity actor might accidentally be started in several places at the same time.

Creating a good sharding algorithm is an interesting challenge in itself. Try to produce a uniform distribution, i.e. same amount of entities in each shard. As a rule of thumb, the number of shards should be a factor ten greater than the planned maximum number of cluster nodes. Fewer shards than number of nodes will result in that some nodes will not host any shards. Too many shards will result in less efficient management of the shards, e.g. rebalancing overhead, and increased latency because the coordinator is involved in the routing of the first message for each shard. The sharding algorithm must be the same on all nodes in a running cluster. It can be changed after stopping all nodes in the cluster.

A simple sharding algorithm that works fine in most cases is to take the absolute value of the hashCode of the entity identifier modulo number of shards. As a convenience this is provided by the ShardRegion.HashCodeMessageExtractor.

Messages to the entities are always sent via the local ShardRegion. The ShardRegion actor reference for a named entity type is returned by ClusterSharding.start and it can also be retrieved with ClusterSharding.shardRegion. The ShardRegion will lookup the location of the shard for the entity if it does not already know its location. It will delegate the message to the right node and it will create the entity actor on demand, i.e. when the first message for a specific entity is delivered.

Scala
val counterRegion: ActorRef = ClusterSharding(system).shardRegion("Counter")
counterRegion ! Get(123)
expectMsg(0)

counterRegion ! EntityEnvelope(123, Increment)
counterRegion ! Get(123)
expectMsg(1)
Java
ActorRef counterRegion = ClusterSharding.get(system).shardRegion("Counter");
counterRegion.tell(new Counter.Get(123), getSelf());

counterRegion.tell(new Counter.EntityEnvelope(123, Counter.CounterOp.INCREMENT), getSelf());
counterRegion.tell(new Counter.Get(123), getSelf());

A more comprehensive sample is available in the Cluster Sharding example project Cluster Sharding example project.

How it works

See Cluster Sharding concepts in the documentation of the new APIs.

Sharding State Store Mode

There are two cluster sharding states managed:

  1. ShardCoordinator State - the Shard locations
  2. Remembering Entities - the entities in each Shard, which is optional, and disabled by default

For these, there are currently two modes which define how these states are stored:

Warning

Persistence for state store mode is deprecated.

Changing the mode requires a full cluster restart.

Distributed Data Mode

The state of the ShardCoordinator is replicated across the cluster but is not durable, not stored to disk. The ShardCoordinator state replication is handled by Distributed Data with WriteMajority/ReadMajority consistency. When all nodes in the cluster have been stopped, the state is no longer needed and dropped.

See Distributed Data mode in the documentation of the new APIs.

Persistence Mode

See Persistence Mode in the documentation of the new APIs.

Proxy Only Mode

The ShardRegion actor can also be started in proxy only mode, i.e. it will not host any entities itself, but knows how to delegate messages to the right location. A ShardRegion is started in proxy only mode with the ClusterSharding.startProxy method. Also a ShardRegion is started in proxy only mode when there is no match between the roles of the current cluster node and the role specified in ClusterShardingSettings passed to the ClusterSharding.start method.

Passivation

If the state of the entities are persistent you may stop entities that are not used to reduce memory consumption. This is done by the application specific implementation of the entity actors for example by defining receive timeout (context.setReceiveTimeout). If a message is already enqueued to the entity when it stops itself the enqueued message in the mailbox will be dropped. To support graceful passivation without losing such messages the entity actor can send ShardRegion.Passivate to its parent Shard. The specified wrapped message in Passivate will be sent back to the entity, which is then supposed to stop itself. Incoming messages will be buffered by the Shard between reception of Passivate and termination of the entity. Such buffered messages are thereafter delivered to a new incarnation of the entity.

See Automatic Passivation in the documentation of the new APIs.

Remembering Entities

See Remembering Entities in the documentation of the new APIs, including behavior when enabled and disabled.

Note that the state of the entities themselves will not be restored unless they have been made persistent, for example with Event Sourcing.

To make the list of entities in each Shard persistent (durable), set the rememberEntities flag to true in ClusterShardingSettings when calling ClusterSharding.start and make sure the shardIdExtractor handles Shard.StartEntity(EntityId) which implies that a ShardId must be possible to extract from the EntityId.

Scala
val extractShardId: ShardRegion.ExtractShardId = {
  case EntityEnvelope(id, _)       => (id % numberOfShards).toString
  case Get(id)                     => (id % numberOfShards).toString
  case ShardRegion.StartEntity(id) =>
    // StartEntity is used by remembering entities feature
    (id.toLong % numberOfShards).toString
}
Java
@Override
public String shardId(Object message) {
  int numberOfShards = 100;
  if (message instanceof Counter.EntityEnvelope) {
    long id = ((Counter.EntityEnvelope) message).id;
    return String.valueOf(id % numberOfShards);
  } else if (message instanceof Counter.Get) {
    long id = ((Counter.Get) message).counterId;
    return String.valueOf(id % numberOfShards);
  } else if (message instanceof ShardRegion.StartEntity) {
    long id = Long.valueOf(((ShardRegion.StartEntity) message).entityId());
    return String.valueOf(id % numberOfShards);
  } else {
    return null;
  }
}

Supervision

If you need to use another supervisorStrategy for the entity actors than the default (restarting) strategy you need to create an intermediate parent actor that defines the supervisorStrategy to the child entity actor.

Scala
class CounterSupervisor extends Actor {
  val counter = context.actorOf(Props[Counter], "theCounter")

  override val supervisorStrategy = OneForOneStrategy() {
    case _: IllegalArgumentException     => SupervisorStrategy.Resume
    case _: ActorInitializationException => SupervisorStrategy.Stop
    case _: DeathPactException           => SupervisorStrategy.Stop
    case _: Exception                    => SupervisorStrategy.Restart
  }

  def receive = {
    case msg => counter.forward(msg)
  }
}
Java
static class CounterSupervisor extends AbstractActor {

  private final ActorRef counter =
      getContext().actorOf(Props.create(Counter.class), "theCounter");

  private static final SupervisorStrategy strategy =
      new OneForOneStrategy(
          DeciderBuilder.match(IllegalArgumentException.class, e -> SupervisorStrategy.resume())
              .match(ActorInitializationException.class, e -> SupervisorStrategy.stop())
              .match(Exception.class, e -> SupervisorStrategy.restart())
              .matchAny(o -> SupervisorStrategy.escalate())
              .build());

  @Override
  public SupervisorStrategy supervisorStrategy() {
    return strategy;
  }

  @Override
  public Receive createReceive() {
    return receiveBuilder()
        .match(Object.class, msg -> counter.forward(msg, getContext()))
        .build();
  }
}

You start such a supervisor in the same way as if it was the entity actor.

Scala
ClusterSharding(system).start(
  typeName = "SupervisedCounter",
  entityProps = Props[CounterSupervisor],
  settings = ClusterShardingSettings(system),
  extractEntityId = extractEntityId,
  extractShardId = extractShardId)
Java
ClusterSharding.get(system)
    .start(
        "SupervisedCounter", Props.create(CounterSupervisor.class), settings, messageExtractor);

Note that stopped entities will be started again when a new message is targeted to the entity.

If ‘on stop’ backoff supervision strategy is used, a final termination message must be set and used for passivation, see Backoff supervisor and sharding

Graceful Shutdown

You can send the ShardRegion.GracefulShutdown ShardRegion.gracefulShutdownInstance message to the ShardRegion actor to hand off all shards that are hosted by that ShardRegion and then the ShardRegion actor will be stopped. You can watch the ShardRegion actor to know when it is completed. During this period other regions will buffer messages for those shards in the same way as when a rebalance is triggered by the coordinator. When the shards have been stopped the coordinator will allocate these shards elsewhere.

This is performed automatically by the Coordinated Shutdown and is therefore part of the graceful leaving process of a cluster member.

Removal of Internal Cluster Sharding Data

See removal of Internal Cluster Sharding Data in the documentation of the new APIs.

Inspecting cluster sharding state

Two requests to inspect the cluster state are available:

ShardRegion.GetShardRegionState ShardRegion.getShardRegionStateInstance which will return a ShardRegion.CurrentShardRegionState ShardRegion.ShardRegionState that contains the identifiers of the shards running in a Region and what entities are alive for each of them.

ShardRegion.GetClusterShardingStats which will query all the regions in the cluster and return a ShardRegion.ClusterShardingStats containing the identifiers of the shards running in each region and a count of entities that are alive in each shard. If any shard queries failed, for example due to timeout if a shard was too busy to reply within the configured akka.cluster.sharding.shard-region-query-timeout, ShardRegion.ClusterShardingStats will also include the set of shard identifiers by region that failed.

The type names of all started shards can be acquired via ClusterSharding.shardTypeNames ClusterSharding.getShardTypeNames.

The purpose of these messages is testing and monitoring, they are not provided to give access to directly sending messages to the individual entities.

Lease

A lease can be used as an additional safety measure to ensure a shard does not run on two nodes. See Lease in the documentation of the new APIs.

Configuration

ClusterShardingSettings is a parameter to the start method of the ClusterSharding extension, i.e. each each entity type can be configured with different settings if needed.

See configuration for more information.

Found an error in this documentation? The source code for this page can be found here. Please feel free to edit and contribute a pull request.