The Cluster Architecture of TDengine

TDengine is a time-series database designed and optimized for IoT. You can get it on GitHub.

The design of TDengine is based on the assumption that one single hardware or software system is unreliable and that no single computer can provide sufficient computing and storage resources to process massive data. Therefore, TDengine has been designed according to a distributed and high-reliability architecture since Day One of R&D, which supports scale-out, so that hardware failure or software failure of any single or multiple servers will not affect the availability and reliability of the system. At the same time, through node virtualization and automatic load-balancing technology, TDengine can make the most efficient use of computing and storage resources in heterogeneous clusters to reduce hardware investment.

Primary Logic Unit

Logical structure diagram of TDengine distributed architecture as following:

Picture 1: TDengine architecture diagram

A complete TDengine system runs on one or more physical nodes. Logically, it includes data node (dnode), TDEngine application driver (taosc) and application (app). There are one or more data nodes in the system, which form a cluster. The application interacts with the TDengine cluster through taosc’s API. The following is a brief introduction to each logical unit.

Physical node (pnode): A pnode is a computer that runs independently and has its own computing, storage and network capabilities. It can be a physical machine, virtual machine or Docker container installed with OS. The physical node is identified by its configured FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name). TDengine relies entirely on FQDN for network communication. If you don’t know about FQDN, please read the blog post “All about FQDN of TDengine”.

Data node (dnode): A dnode is a running instance of the TDengine server-side execution code taosd on a physical node. A working system must have at least one data node. A dnode contains zero to multiple logical virtual nodes (VNODE), zero or at most one logical management node (mnode). The unique identification of a dnode in the system is determined by the instance’s End Point (EP). EP is a combination of FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) of the physical node where the dnode is located and the network port number (Port) configured by the system. By configuring different ports, a physical node (a physical machine, virtual machine or container) can run multiple instances or have multiple data nodes.

Virtual node (vnode): In order to better support data sharding, load balancing and prevent data from overheating or skewing, data nodes are virtualized into multiple virtual nodes (vnode, V2, V3, V4, etc. in the figure). Each vnode is a relatively independent work unit, which is the basic unit of time-series data storage, and has independent running threads, memory space and persistent storage path. A vnode contains a certain number of tables (data collection points). When a new table is created, the system checks whether a new vnode needs to be created. The number of vnodes that can be created on a data node depends on the hardware capacities of the physical node where the data node is located. A vnode belongs to only one DB, but a DB can have multiple vnodes. In addition to the stored time-series data, a vnode also stores the schema and tag values of the included tables. A virtual node is uniquely identified in the system by the EP of the data node and the VGroup ID to which it belongs, and is created and managed by the management node.

Management node (mnode): A virtual logical unit responsible for monitoring and maintaining the running status of all data nodes and load balancing among nodes (M in figure). At the same time, the management node is also responsible for the storage and management of metadata (including users, databases, tables, static tags, etc.), so it is also called Meta Node. Multiple (up to 5) mnodes can be configured in a TDengine cluster, and they are automatically constructed into a virtual management node group (M0, M1, M2 in the figure). The master/slave mechanism is used to manage between mnodes, and the data synchronization is carried out in a strong consistent way. Any data update operation can only be done on the master. The creation of mnode cluster is completed automatically by the system without manual intervention. There is at most one mnode on each dnode, which is uniquely identified by the EP of the data node to which it belongs. Each dnode automatically obtains the EP of the dnode where all mnodes in the whole cluster are located through internal messaging interaction.

Virtual node group (VGroup): Vnodes on different data nodes can form a virtual node group to ensure the high reliability of the system. The virtual node group is managed in a master/slave structure. Write operations can only be performed on the master vnode, and the system synchronizes data to the slave vnode via replication, thus ensuring that one single replica of data is copied on multiple physical nodes. The number of virtual nodes in a vgroup equals the number of data replicas. If the number of replicas of a DB is N, the system must have at least N data nodes. The number of replicas can be specified by the parameter replica when creating DB, and the default is 1. Using the multi-replica feature of TDengine, the same high data reliability can be done without the need for expensive storage devices such as disk arrays. Virtual node group is created and managed by management node, and the management node assigns a system unique ID, aka VGroup ID. If two virtual nodes has the same vnode group ID, means that they belong to the same group and the data is backed up to each other. The number of virtual nodes in a virtual node group can be dynamically changed, allowing only one, that is, no data replication. VGroup ID is never changed. Even if a virtual node group is deleted, its ID will not be reused.

TAOSC: TAOSC is the driver provided by TDengine to applications, which is responsible for dealing with the interface interaction between application and cluster, and provides the native interface of C/C++ language, which is embedded in JDBC, C #, Python, Go, Node.js language connection libraries. Applications interact with the whole cluster through taosc instead of directly connecting to data nodes in the cluster. This module is responsible for obtaining and caching metadata; forwarding requests for insertion, query, etc. to the correct data node; when returning the results to the application, taosc also need to be responsible for the final level of aggregation, sorting, filtering and other operations. For JDBC, C/C++/C #/Python/Go/Node.js interfaces, this module runs on the physical node where the application is located. At the same time, in order to support the fully distributed RESTful interface, taosc has a running instance on each dnode of TDengine cluster.

Node Communication

Communication mode: The communication among each data node of TDengine system, and among application driver and each data node is carried out through TCP/UDP. Considering an IoT scenario, the data writing packets are generally not large, so TDengine uses UDP in addition to TCP for transmission, because UDP is more efficient and is not limited by the number of connections. TDengine implements its own timeout, retransmission, confirmation and other mechanisms to ensure reliable transmission of UDP. For packets with a data volume of less than 15K, UDP is adopted for transmission, and TCP is automatically adopted for transmission of packets with a data volume of more than 15K or query operations. At the same time, TDengine will automatically compress/decompress the data, digital sign/authenticate the data according to the configuration and data packet. For data replication among data nodes, only TCP is used for data transmission.

FQDN configuration: A data node has one or more FQDNs, which can be specified in the system configuration file taos.cfg with the parameter “fqdn”. If it is not specified, the system will automatically use the hostname of the computer as its FQDN. If the node is not configured with FQDN, you can directly set the configuration parameter fqdn of the node to its IP address. However, IP is not recommended because IP address is variable, and once it changes, the cluster will not work properly. The EP (End Point) of a data node consists of FQDN + Port. With FQDN, it is necessary to ensure the normal operation of DNS service, or configure hosts files on nodes and the nodes where applications are located.

Port configuration: The external port of a data node is determined by the system configuration parameter serverPort in TDengine, and the port for internal communication of cluster is serverPort+5. The data replication operation among data nodes in the cluster also occupies a TCP port, which is serverPort+10. In order to support multithreading and efficient processing of UDP data, each internal and external UDP connection needs to occupy 5 consecutive ports. Therefore, the total port range of a data node will be serverPort to serverPort + 10, for a total of 11 TCP/UDP ports. When using, make sure that the firewall keeps these ports open. Each data node can be configured with a different serverPort.

Cluster external connection: TDengine cluster can accommodate one single, multiple or even thousands of data nodes. The application only needs to initiate a connection to any data node in the cluster. The network parameter required for connection is the End Point (FQDN plus configured port number) of a data node. When starting the application taos through CLI, the FQDN of the data node can be specified through the option-h, and the configured port number can be specified through -p. If the port is not configured, the system configuration parameter serverPort of TDengine will be adopted.

Inter-cluster communication: Data nodes connect with each other through TCP/UDP. When a data node starts, it will obtain the EP information of the dnode where the mnode is located, and then establish a connection with the mnode in the system to exchange information. There are three steps to obtain EP information of the mnode: 1. Check whether the mnodeEpList file exists, if it does not exist or cannot be opened normally to obtain EP information of the mnode, skip to the second step; 2: Check the system configuration file taos.cfg to obtain node configuration parameters firstEp and secondEp (the node specified by these two parameters can be a normal node without mnode, in this case, the node will try to redirect to the mnode node when connected). If these two configuration parameters do not exist or do not exist in taos.cfg, or are invalid, skip to the third step; 3: Set your own EP as a mnode EP and run it independently. After obtaining the mnode EP list, the data node initiates the connection. It will successfully join the working cluster after connected. If not successful, it will try the next item in the mnode EP list. If all attempts are made, but the connection still fails, sleep for a few seconds before trying again.

The choice of MNODE: TDengine logically has a management node, but there is no separated execution code. The server side only has a set of execution code taosd. So which data node will be the management node? This is determined automatically by the system without any manual intervention. The principle is as follows: when a data node starts, it will check its End Point and compare it with the obtained mnode EP List. If its EP exists in it, the data node shall start the mnode module and become a mnode. If your own EP is not in the mnode EP List, the mnode module will not start. During the system operation, due to load balancing, downtime and other reasons, mnode may migrate to the new dnode, while totally transparent without manual intervention. The modification of configuration parameters is the decision made by mnode itself according to resources usage.

Add new data nodes: After the system has a data node, it has become a working system. There are two steps to add a new node into the cluster. Step1: Connect to the existing working data node using TDengine CLI, and then add the End Point of the new data node with the command “create dnode”; Step 2: In the system configuration parameter file taos.cfg of the new data node, set the firstEp and secondEp parameters to the EP of any two data nodes in the existing cluster. Please refer to the detailed user tutorial for detailed steps. In this way, the cluster will be established step by step.

Redirection: No matter about dnode or taosc, the connection to the mnode shall be initiated first, but the mnode is automatically created and maintained by the system, so user does not know which dnode is running the mnode. TDengine only requires a connection to any working dnode in the system. Because any running dnode maintains the currently running mnode EP List, when receiving a connecting request from the newly started dnode or taosc, if it’s not an mnode by self, it will reply the mnode EP List back. After receiving this list, taosc or the newly started dnode will try to establish the connection again. When the mnode EP List changes, each data node quickly obtains the latest list and notifies taosc through messaging interaction among nodes.

A Typical Messaging Process

To explain the relationship between vnode, mnode, taosc and application and their respective roles, the following is an analysis of a typical data writing process.

Picture 2 typical process of TDengine

  1. Application initiates a request to insert data through JDBC, ODBC, or other APIs.
  2. Cache be checked by taosc that if meta data existing for the table. If so, go straight to Step 4. If not, taosc sends a get meta-data request to mnode.
  3. Mnode returns the meta-data of the table to taosc. Meta-data contains the schema of the table, and also the vgroup information to which the table belongs (the vnode ID and the End Point of the dnode where the table belongs. If the number of replicas is N, there will be N groups of End Points). If taosc does not receive a response from the mnode for a long time, and there are multiple mnodes, taosc will send a request to the next mnode.
  4. Taosc initiates an insert request to master vnode.
  5. After vnode inserts the data, it gives a reply to taosc, indicating that the insertion is successful. If taosc doesn’t get a response from vnode for a long time, taosc will judge the node as offline. In this case, if there are multiple replicas of the inserted database, taosc will issue an insert request to the next vnode in vgroup.
  6. Taosc notifies APP that writing is successful.

For Step 2 and 3, when taosc starts, it does not know the End Point of mnode, so it will directly initiate a request to the externally serving End Point of the configured cluster. If the dnode that received the request does not have an mnode configured, it will inform the mnode EP list in a reply message, so that taosc will re-issue a request to obtain meta-data to the EP of another new mnode.

For Step 4 and 5, without caching, taosc can’t recognize the master in the virtual node group, so assumes that the first vnodeID is the master and send a request to it. If the requested vnode is not the master, it will reply the actual master as a new target taosc makes a request to. Once the reply of successful insertion is obtained, taosc will cache the information of master node.

The above is the process of inserting data, and the processes of querying and calculating are completely consistent. Taosc encapsulates and shields all these complicated processes, and has no perception and no special treatment for applications.

Through taosc caching mechanism, mnode needs to be accessed only when a table is operated for the first time, so mnode will not become a system bottleneck. However, because schema and vgroup may change (such as load balancing), taosc will interact with mnode regularly to automatically update the cache.

TAOS Data's flagship product, TDengine, is an open-source AIoT big data platform GitHub: