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From Jonathan Ellis <>
Subject Re: Cassandra client loses connectivity to cluster
Date Tue, 06 Sep 2011 20:09:36 GMT
Thanks for the followup, Jim!

We'll review shortly.

On Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 2:58 PM, Jim Ancona <> wrote:
> Since we finally fixed this issue, I thought I'd document the
> solution, with the hope that it makes it easier for others who might
> run into it.
> During the time this issue was occurring Anthony Ikeda reported a very
> similar issue, although without the strange pattern of occurrences we
> saw:
> It turns out that our problem was the same as Anthony's: exceeding
> Thrift's maximum frame size, as set by
> thrift_framed_transport_size_in_mb in cassandra.yaml. This problem was
> extremely hard to troubleshoot, for the following reasons:
> * TFramedTransport responds to an oversized frame by throwing a
> TTransportException, which is a generic exception thrown for various
> types of network or protocol errors. Because such errors are common,
> many servers (TSimpleServer, TThreadPoolServer, and Cassandra's
> CustomTThreadPoolServer) swallow TTransportException without a log
> message. I've filed
> and to address
> the lack of logging. (We finally found the issue by adding logging
> code to our production Cassandra deploy. The fact that we could do
> that it a big win for open source.)
> * After the TTransportException occurs, the server closes the
> underlying socket. To the client (Hector in our case), this appears as
> broken socket, most likely caused by a network problem or failed
> server node. Hector responds by marking the server node down and
> retrying the too-large request on another node, where it also fails.
> This process repeated leads to the entire cluster being marked down
> (see
> * Ideally, sending an oversized frame should trigger a recognizable
> error on the client, so that the client knows that it has made a error
> and avoids compounding the mistake by retrying. Thrift's framed
> transport is pretty simple and I assume there isn't a good way for the
> server to communicate the error to the client. As a second-best
> solution, I've logged a bug against Thrift
> ( saying that
> TFramedTransport should enforce the configured frame size limit on
> writes. At least that way people can avoid the issue by configuring a
> client frame size to match their servers'. If that is implemented then
> clients like Hector will be able to detect the frame too large case
> and return an error instead of retrying it.
> In addition to the issues above, some other things made this issue
> difficult to solve:
> * The pattern of occurrences (only occurring at a certain time of day,
> on a single server at a time, only on weekdays, etc.) was something of
> a distraction.
> * Even after finding out that Anthony's similar problem was caused by
> an oversized frame, I was convinced that we could not be generating an
> operation large enough to exceed the configured value (15 mb).
> It turns out that I was almost right: out of our hundreds of thousands
> of customers, exactly one was working with data that large, and that
> customer was doing so not because of anomalous behavior on their part,
> but because of a bug in our system. So the fact that it was a single
> customer explained the regular occurrences, and the bug explained the
> unexpectedly large data size. Of course in this case "almost right"
> wasn't good enough, my BOTE calculation failed to take the bug into
> account. Plus, as I tweeted immediately after I figured out what was
> going on, "Lesson: when you have millions of users it becomes easier
> to say things about averages, but harder to do the same for extremes."
> Jim
> On Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 5:42 PM, Jim Ancona <> wrote:
>> In reviewing client logs as part of our Cassandra testing, I noticed
>> several Hector "All host pools marked down" exceptions in the logs.
>> Further investigation showed a consistent pattern of
>> " Broken pipe" and "
>> Connection reset" messages. These errors occur for all 36 hosts in the
>> cluster over a period of seconds, as Hector tries to find a working
>> host to connect to. Failing to find a host results in the "All host
>> pools marked down" messages. These messages recur for a period ranging
>> from several seconds up to almost 15 minutes, clustering around two to
>> three minutes. Then connectivity returns and when Hector tries to
>> reconnect it succeeds.
>> The clients are instances of a JBoss 5 web application. We use Hector
>> 0.7.0-29 (plus a patch that was pulled in advance of -30) The
>> Cassandra cluster has 72 nodes split between two datacenters. It's
>> running 0.7.5 plus a couple of bug fixes pulled in advance of 0.7.6.
>> The keyspace uses NetworkTopologyStrategy and RF=6 (3 in each
>> datacenter). The clients are reading and writing at LOCAL_QUORUM to
>> the 36 nodes in their own data center. Right now the second datacenter
>> is for failover only, so there are no clients actually writing there.
>> There's nothing else obvious in the JBoss logs at around the same
>> time, e.g. other application errors, GC events. The Cassandra
>> system.log files at INFO level shows nothing out of the ordinary. I
>> have a capture of one of the incidents at DEBUG level where again I
>> see nothing abnormal looking, but there's so much data that it would
>> be easy to miss something.
>> Other observations:
>> * It only happens on weekdays (Our weekends are much lower load)
>> * It has occurred every weekday for the last month except for Monday
>> May 30, the Memorial Day holiday in the US.
>> * Most days it occurs only once, but six times it has occurred twice,
>> never more often than that.
>> * It generally happens in the late afternoon, but there have been
>> occurrences earlier in the afternoon and twice in the late morning.
>> Earliest occurrence is 11:19 am, latest is 18:11 pm. Our peak loads
>> are between 10:00 and 14:00, so most occurrences do *not* correspond
>> with peak load times.
>> * It only happens on a single client JBoss instance at a time.
>> * Generally, it affects a different host each day, but the same host
>> was affected on consecutive days once.
>> * Out of 40 clients, one has been affected three times, seven have
>> been affected twice, 11 have been affected once and 21 have not been
>> affected.
>> * The cluster is lightly loaded.
>> Given that the problem affects a single client machine at a time and
>> that machine loses the ability to connect to the entire cluster, It
>> seems unlikely that the problem is on the C* server side. Even a
>> network problem seems hard to explain, given that the clients are on
>> the same subnet, I would expect all of them to fail if it were a
>> network issue.
>> I'm hoping that perhaps someone has seen a similar issue or can
>> suggest things to try.
>> Thanks in advance for any help!
>> Jim

Jonathan Ellis
Project Chair, Apache Cassandra
co-founder of DataStax, the source for professional Cassandra support

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