Redis guidelines

GitLab uses Redis for three distinct purposes:

  • Caching via Rails.cache.
  • As a job processing queue with Sidekiq.
  • To manage the shared application state.

Every application process is configured to use the same Redis servers, so they can be used for inter-process communication in cases where PostgreSQL is less appropriate. For example, transient state or data that is written much more often than it is read.

If Geo is enabled, each Geo node gets its own, independent Redis database.

Key naming

Redis is a flat namespace with no hierarchy, which means we must pay attention to key names to avoid collisions. Typically we use colon-separated elements to provide a semblence of structure at application level. An example might be projects:1:somekey.

Although we split our Redis usage into three separate purposes, and those may map to separate Redis servers in a Highly Available configuration, the default Omnibus and GDK setups share a single Redis server. This means that keys should always be globally unique across the three purposes.

It is usually better to use immutable identifiers - project ID rather than full path, for instance - in Redis key names. If full path is used, the key will stop being consulted if the project is renamed. If the contents of the key are invalidated by a name change, it is better to include a hook that will expire the entry, instead of relying on the key changing.

We don’t use Redis Cluster at the moment, but may wish to in the future: #118820.

This imposes an additional constraint on naming: where GitLab is performing operations that require several keys to be held on the same Redis server - for instance, diffing two sets held in Redis - the keys should ensure that by enclosing the changeable parts in curly braces, such as, project:{1}:set_a and project:{1}:set_b.