Use follower reads to lower read latencies. With follower reads, the database has less work to do at read time, including serving the read from the tablet followers. Follower reads is similar to reading from a cache, which can give more read IOPS with low latency, but might have slightly stale yet timeline-consistent data (that is, no out of order data is possible).


Consider the following factors when using follower reads in YCQL.

Consistency level

You need to set the consistency level to ONE in your application to work with follower reads or observer reads. Changing the consistency level to ONE has no effect on write operations, only read operations. This is because writes in YCQL are always strongly consistent. Note that the default consistency level is QUORUM.

Using ycqlsh, you can check the consistency level using the CONSISTENCY command with no arguments, and set the consistency level to one using CONSISTENCY ONE. To learn about the consistency levels in YCQL, refer to CONSISTENCY.

Maximum staleness

You can specify the maximum staleness of data when reading from tablet followers. If the follower hasn't heard from the leader for 10 seconds (the default), the read request is forwarded to the leader. If the tablet follower and the tablet leader are far from each other, you might need to increase the duration. To change the duration for maximum staleness, add the yb-tserver --max_stale_read_bound_time_ms flag and increase the value. For information on adding this flag when creating a cluster using yb-ctl, refer to Creating a local cluster with custom flags.

Try it out

In this tutorial, you update a single key-value over and over, and read it from the tablet leader. While that workload is running, you start another workload to read from a follower and verify that you are able to read from a tablet follower.

Create universe

If you have a previously running local universe, destroy it by executing the following command:

$ ./bin/yb-ctl destroy

Start a new local universe with three nodes and a replication factor (RF) of 3, as follows:

$ ./bin/yb-ctl --rf 3 create

Add one more node, as follows:

$ ./bin/yb-ctl add_node

Write some data

Download the YugabyteDB workload generator JAR file (yb-sample-apps.jar) by running the following command:

$ wget -O yb-sample-apps.jar

By default, the YugabyteDB workload generator runs with strong read consistency, where all data is read from the tablet leader. Note that the yb-sample-apps.jar sets the consistency level to ONE by default. You can populate exactly one key with a 10KB value into the system. Because the replication factor is 3, this key is replicated to only three of the four nodes in the universe.

Run the CassandraKeyValue workload application to constantly update this key-value, as well as perform reads with strong consistency against the local universe, as follows:

$ java -jar ./yb-sample-apps.jar --workload CassandraKeyValue \
                                    --nodes \
                                    --nouuid \
                                    --num_unique_keys 1 \
                                    --num_threads_write 1 \
                                    --num_threads_read 1 \
                                    --value_size 10240

In the preceding command, the value of num_unique_keys is set to 1, which means a single key key:0 was overwritten. You can verify this using ycqlsh as follows:

$ ./bin/ycqlsh
Connected to local cluster at
[ycqlsh 5.0.1 | Cassandra 3.9-SNAPSHOT | CQL spec 3.4.2 | Native protocol v4]
Use HELP for help.

Run a query as follows:

ycqlsh> SELECT k FROM ybdemo_keyspace.cassandrakeyvalue;

(1 rows)

Strongly consistent reads from tablet leaders

When performing strongly consistent reads as a part of the above command, all reads are served by the tablet leader of the tablet that contains the key key:0. Browse to the tablet-servers page, where you can see that all the requests are indeed being served by one YB-TServer, as shown in the following illustration:

Reads from the tablet leader

Follower reads from tablet replicas

Stop the workload application above, and then run the following variant of that workload application. This command performs updates to the same key key:0 via the tablet leader, but it reads from the replicas, as follows:

$ java -jar ./yb-sample-apps.jar --workload CassandraKeyValue \
                                    --nodes \
                                    --nouuid \
                                    --num_unique_keys 1 \
                                    --num_threads_write 1 \
                                    --num_threads_read 1 \
                                    --value_size 10240 \

You can see this by refreshing the tablet-servers page. The writes are served by a single YB-TServer that is the leader of the tablet for the key key:0, while multiple YB-TServer replicas serve the reads.

Reads from the tablet follower

Clean up (optional)

Optionally, you can execute the following command to shut down the local cluster.

$ ./bin/yb-ctl destroy

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