Use Cases

The majority of operational problems associated with databases come down to a mismatch in the suitability of your data model/queries for the workload or a mismatch in behaviour of your chosen database for a given workload. This can manifest in many different ways, but commonly shows up as:

  • Some queries are slow for certain keys (customers/tenants etc).
  • Some queries could be implemented more efficiently (queries not quite right).
  • Some tables are too big or inefficient (data model not quite right).
  • Some queries are occur far more than others (hot partitions).
  • I have this sinking feeling I should have chosen a different database (hmmm yeah... ).
  • My database slows down over time (wrong indexing scheme, compaction strategy, data no longer fits in memory).
  • My database slows down for a period of time (GC, autovacuum, flushes).
  • I don't understand where my queries are going and how they are performing (poor observability at the driver level).

These challenges are all generally discovered in production environments rather than testing. So fixing and resolving these quickly can be tricky, often requiring application and/or schema level changes.

Shotover aims to make these challenges simpler by providing a point where data locality, performance and storage characteristics are (somewhat) decoupled from the application, allowing for on the fly, easy changes to be made queries and data storage choices without the need to change and redeploy your application.

Longer term, Shotover can also leverage the same capability to make operational tasks easier to solve a number of other challenges that come with working multiple databases. Some of these include:

  • Data encryption at the field level, with a common key management scheme between databases.
  • Routing the same data to databases that provide different query capabilities or performance characteristics (e.g. indexing data in Redis in Elasticsearch, easy caching of DynamoDB data in Redis).
  • Routing/replicating data across regions for databases that don't support it natively or the functionality is gated behind proprietary "open-core" implementations.
  • A common audit and AuthZ/AuthN point for SOX/PCI/HIPAA compliance.

Design principals / goals

Shotover prioritises the following principals in the order listed:

  1. Security
  2. Durability
  3. Availability
  4. Extensibility
  5. Performance

Shotover provides a set of predefined transforms that can modify, route and control queries from any number of sources to a similar number of sinks. As the user you can construct chains of these transforms to achieve the behaviour required. Each chain can then be attached to a "source" that speaks the native protocol of you chosen database. The transform chain will process each request with access to a unified/simplified representation of a generic query, the original raw query and optionally (for SQL like protocols) a parsed AST representing the query.

Shotover proxy currently supports the following protocols as sources:

  • Cassandra (CQLv4)
  • Redis (RESP2)

Shotover performance

Shotover compiles down to a single binary and just takes a single YAML file and some optional command line parameters to start up. When running a small topology (5 - 10 transforms, 1 or 2 sources, 200 or so TCP connections) memory consumption is rather small with a rough working set size between 10 - 20mb.

Currently benchmarking is limited, but we see around 100k req/s per single logical core for a 1:1 request model. However due to the way Shotover is implemented, it will largely go as fast as your upstream datastore can go. Each tcp connection is driven by a single tokio thread and by default Shotover will use 4 to 8 OS threads for the bulk of it's work (this is user configurable). Occasionally it will spawn additional OS threads for long running non-async code. These are practically unbounded (as defined by Tokio) but use is rare.

Individual transforms can also dramatically impact performance as well.

Shotover will not try to explicitly pipeline, aggregate or batch requests (though feel free to write a transform to do so!) unless it is built into the source protocol (e.g. RESP2 supports cmd pipelining) or via a transform. Most client drivers support connection pooling and multiple connections, so feel free to ramp up the number of outbound sockets to get the best throughput. Shotover will happily work with 100's or 1000's of connections due to its threading model.

Performance hasn't been a primary focus during initial development and there are definitely some easy wins to improve things.