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Circus clustering management


During PyConFr 2012, Jonathan Dorival, Mathieu Agopian and me, spent two days sprinting on Circus.

Circus is a process & socket manager. It can be used to monitor and control processes and sockets.

At Novapost, we usually launch processes on different (virtual) machines, so we wanted Circus to manage processes launched on different servers.


We had the chance to discuss this with Tarek Ziadé and Alexis Metaireau at PyconFr 2012. They have the same needs at Mozilla so we seized the opportunity and brainstormed about our needs, and finally ended up with this conclusion:

We want

  • An unique interface to manage processes on different circus nodes (eventually called circusmeta)
  • To manage an unique circus instance or pool of nodes the same way.
  • To start new circus nodes and automatically be able to manage them
  • To start new workers on specific nodes (by explicitely giving the name of the node)
  • To add a new worker on the cluster and let circusmeta chose which node it will be started on.
  • To aggregate statistics about the cluster
  • To run commands on a specific node or every nodes

We don't want

  • To manage the virtual machines flow
  • To register some watchers on an empty circusd


After this brainstorming we ended up with this implementation roadmap:

  • Have a default name for the circusd server but also be able to rename (via a config file or a circus command)
  • Modify the stats management to prefix stats with the unique name of the node
  • Create a socket on circusmeta that will agregate every circusd stats_endpoint on a unique socket base of the pool configuration.
  • Adapt existing circus tools (circus-top, circushttpd, circusctl, ...) to handle nodes.

A word about circusmeta

With that in mind, circusmeta don't need to be a server. It is just a tool which will manage a pool of nodes by connecting node's sockets (stats, endpoint and pubsub).

So circusmeta just need to be running when accessing the pool. (When we use a circustool on the pool)

circusmeta will be configured with the list of servers and some information about the strategy it will use when adding watchers on the pool.


This proposal doesn't change the core of circus, there is no master/slave thing or complex architecture to configure or understand.

The only changing point is that each stat message need to be identified with the node name, in order to use the same command for a unique server or for a pool behind circusmeta.

The codebase is also already there, we still need some code to take one step back and manage a list of node in circus tools.

Comments !