Batched background migrations

Batched Background Migrations should be used to perform data migrations whenever a migration exceeds the time limits in our guidelines. For example, you can use batched background migrations to migrate data that’s stored in a single JSON column to a separate table instead.

When to use batched background migrations

Use a batched background migration when you migrate data in tables containing so many rows that the process would exceed the time limits in our guidelines if performed using a regular Rails migration.

  • Batched background migrations should be used when migrating data in high-traffic tables.
  • Batched background migrations may also be used when executing numerous single-row queries for every item on a large dataset. Typically, for single-record patterns, runtime is largely dependent on the size of the dataset. Split the dataset accordingly, and put it into background migrations.
  • Don’t use batched background migrations to perform schema migrations.

Background migrations can help when:

  • Migrating events from one table to multiple separate tables.
  • Populating one column based on JSON stored in another column.
  • Migrating data that depends on the output of external services. (For example, an API.)
note
If the batched background migration is part of an important upgrade, it must be announced in the release post. Discuss with your Project Manager if you’re unsure if the migration falls into this category.

Isolation

Batched background migrations must be isolated and can not use application code (for example, models defined in app/models except the ApplicationRecord classes). Because these migrations can take a long time to run, it’s possible for new versions to deploy while the migrations are still running.

Accessing data for multiple databases

Background Migration contrary to regular migrations does have access to multiple databases and can be used to efficiently access and update data across them. To properly indicate a database to be used it is desired to create ActiveRecord model inline the migration code. Such model should use a correct ApplicationRecord depending on which database the table is located. As such usage of ActiveRecord::Base is disallowed as it does not describe a explicitly database to be used to access given table.

# good
class Gitlab::BackgroundMigration::ExtractIntegrationsUrl
  class Project < ::ApplicationRecord
    self.table_name = 'projects'
  end

  class Build < ::Ci::ApplicationRecord
    self.table_name = 'ci_builds'
  end
end

# bad
class Gitlab::BackgroundMigration::ExtractIntegrationsUrl
  class Project < ActiveRecord::Base
    self.table_name = 'projects'
  end

  class Build < ActiveRecord::Base
    self.table_name = 'ci_builds'
  end
end

Similarly the usage of ActiveRecord::Base.connection is disallowed and needs to be replaced preferably with the usage of model connection.

# good
Project.connection.execute("SELECT * FROM projects")

# acceptable
ApplicationRecord.connection.execute("SELECT * FROM projects")

# bad
ActiveRecord::Base.connection.execute("SELECT * FROM projects")

Idempotence

Batched background migrations are executed in a context of a Sidekiq process. The usual Sidekiq rules apply, especially the rule that jobs should be small and idempotent. Make sure that in case that your migration job is retried, data integrity is guaranteed.

See Sidekiq best practices guidelines for more details.

Batched background migrations for EE-only features

All the background migration classes for EE-only features should be present in GitLab FOSS. For this purpose, create an empty class for GitLab FOSS, and extend it for GitLab EE as explained in the guidelines for implementing Enterprise Edition features.

note
Background migration classes for EE-only features that use job arguments should define them in the GitLab FOSS class. This is required to prevent job arguments validation from failing when migration is scheduled in GitLab FOSS context.

Batched Background migrations are simple classes that define a perform method. A Sidekiq worker then executes such a class, passing any arguments to it. All migration classes must be defined in the namespace Gitlab::BackgroundMigration. Place the files in the directory lib/gitlab/background_migration/.

Queueing

Queueing a batched background migration should be done in a post-deployment migration. Use this queue_batched_background_migration example, queueing the migration to be executed in batches. Replace the class name and arguments with the values from your migration:

queue_batched_background_migration(
  JOB_CLASS_NAME,
  TABLE_NAME,
  JOB_ARGUMENTS,
  JOB_INTERVAL
  )
note
This helper raises an error if the number of provided job arguments does not match the number of job arguments defined in JOB_CLASS_NAME.

Make sure the newly-created data is either migrated, or saved in both the old and new version upon creation. Removals in turn can be handled by defining foreign keys with cascading deletes.

Requeuing batched background migrations

If one of the batched background migrations contains a bug that is fixed in a patch release, you must requeue the batched background migration so the migration repeats on systems that already performed the initial migration.

When you requeue the batched background migration, turn the original queuing into a no-op by clearing up the #up and #down methods of the migration performing the requeuing. Otherwise, the batched background migration is queued multiple times on systems that are upgrading multiple patch releases at once.

When you start the second post-deployment migration, delete the previously batched migration with the provided code:

delete_batched_background_migration(MIGRATION_NAME, TABLE_NAME, COLUMN, JOB_ARGUMENTS)

Cleaning up

note
Cleaning up any remaining background migrations must be done in either a major or minor release. You must not do this in a patch release.

Because background migrations can take a long time, you can’t immediately clean things up after queueing them. For example, you can’t drop a column used in the migration process, as jobs would fail. You must add a separate post-deployment migration in a future release that finishes any remaining jobs before cleaning things up. (For example, removing a column.)

To migrate the data from column foo (containing a big JSON blob) to column bar (containing a string), you would:

  1. Release A:
    1. Create a migration class that performs the migration for a row with a given ID.
    2. Update new rows using one of these techniques:
      • Create a new trigger for simple copy operations that don’t need application logic.
      • Handle this operation in the model/service as the records are created or updated.
      • Create a new custom background job that updates the records.
    3. Queue the batched background migration for all existing rows in a post-deployment migration.
  2. Release B:
    1. Add a post-deployment migration that checks if the batched background migration is completed.
    2. Deploy code so that the application starts using the new column and stops to update new records.
    3. Remove the old column.

Bump to the import/export version may be required, if importing a project from a prior version of GitLab requires the data to be in the new format.

Job arguments

BatchedMigrationJob provides the job_arguments helper method for job classes to define the job arguments they need.

Batched migrations scheduled with queue_batched_background_migration must use the helper to define the job arguments:

queue_batched_background_migration(
  'CopyColumnUsingBackgroundMigrationJob',
  TABLE_NAME,
  'name', 'name_convert_to_text',
  job_interval: DELAY_INTERVAL
)
note
If the number of defined job arguments does not match the number of job arguments provided when scheduling the migration, queue_batched_background_migration raises an error.

In this example, copy_from returns name, and copy_to returns name_convert_to_text:

class CopyColumnUsingBackgroundMigrationJob < BatchedMigrationJob
  job_arguments :copy_from, :copy_to

  def perform
    from_column = connection.quote_column_name(copy_from)
    to_column = connection.quote_column_name(copy_to)

    assignment_clause = "#{to_column} = #{from_column}"

    each_sub_batch(operation_name: :update_all) do |relation|
      relation.update_all(assignment_clause)
    end
  end
end

Additional filters

By default, when creating background jobs to perform the migration, batched background migrations iterate over the full specified table. This iteration is done using the PrimaryKeyBatchingStrategy. If the table has 1000 records and the batch size is 100, the work is batched into 10 jobs. For illustrative purposes, EachBatch is used like this:

# PrimaryKeyBatchingStrategy
Namespace.each_batch(of: 100) do |relation|
  relation.where(type: nil).update_all(type: 'User') # this happens in each background job
end

In some cases, only a subset of records must be examined. If only 10% of the 1000 records need examination, apply a filter to the initial relation when the jobs are created:

Namespace.where(type: nil).each_batch(of: 100) do |relation|
  relation.update_all(type: 'User')
end

In the first example, we don’t know how many records will be updated in each batch. In the second (filtered) example, we know exactly 100 will be updated with each batch.

BatchedMigrationJob provides a scope_to helper method to apply additional filters and achieve this:

  1. Create a new migration job class that inherits from BatchedMigrationJob and defines the additional filter:

    class BackfillNamespaceType < BatchedMigrationJob
      scope_to ->(relation) { relation.where(type: nil) }
    
      def perform
        each_sub_batch(operation_name: :update_all) do |sub_batch|
          sub_batch.update_all(type: 'User')
        end
      end
    end
    
    note
    For EE migrations that define scope_to, ensure the module extends ActiveSupport::Concern. Otherwise, records are processed without taking the scope into consideration.
  2. In the post-deployment migration, enqueue the batched background migration:

    class BackfillNamespaceType < Gitlab::Database::Migration[2.0]
      MIGRATION = 'BackfillNamespaceType'
      DELAY_INTERVAL = 2.minutes
    
      restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_main
    
      def up
        queue_batched_background_migration(
          MIGRATION,
          :namespaces,
          :id,
          job_interval: DELAY_INTERVAL
        )
      end
    
      def down
        delete_batched_background_migration(MIGRATION, :namespaces, :id, [])
      end
    end
    
note
When applying additional filters, it is important to ensure they are properly covered by an index to optimize EachBatch performance. In the example above we need an index on (type, id) to support the filters. See the EachBatch docs for more information.

Example

The routes table has a source_type field that’s used for a polymorphic relationship. As part of a database redesign, we’re removing the polymorphic relationship. One step of the work is migrating data from the source_id column into a new singular foreign key. Because we intend to delete old rows later, there’s no need to update them as part of the background migration.

  1. Start by defining our migration class, which should inherit from Gitlab::BackgroundMigration::BatchedMigrationJob:

    class Gitlab::BackgroundMigration::BackfillRouteNamespaceId < BatchedMigrationJob
      # For illustration purposes, if we were to use a local model we could
      # define it like below, using an `ApplicationRecord` as the base class
      # class Route < ::ApplicationRecord
      #   self.table_name = 'routes'
      # end
    
      def perform
        each_sub_batch(
          operation_name: :update_all,
          batching_scope: -> (relation) { relation.where("source_type <> 'UnusedType'") }
        ) do |sub_batch|
          sub_batch.update_all('namespace_id = source_id')
        end
      end
    end
    
    note
    Job classes must be subclasses of BatchedMigrationJob to be correctly handled by the batched migration framework. Any subclass of BatchedMigrationJob is initialized with necessary arguments to execute the batch, as well as a connection to the tracking database.
  2. Add a new trigger to the database to update newly created and updated routes, similar to this example:

    execute(<<~SQL)
      CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION example() RETURNS trigger
      LANGUAGE plpgsql
      AS $$
      BEGIN
        NEW."namespace_id" = NEW."source_id"
        RETURN NEW;
      END;
      $$;
    SQL
    
  3. Create a post-deployment migration that queues the migration for existing data:

    class QueueBackfillRoutesNamespaceId < Gitlab::Database::Migration[2.0]
      MIGRATION = 'BackfillRouteNamespaceId'
      DELAY_INTERVAL = 2.minutes
    
      restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_main
    
      def up
        queue_batched_background_migration(
          MIGRATION,
          :routes,
          :id,
          job_interval: DELAY_INTERVAL
        )
      end
    
      def down
        delete_batched_background_migration(MIGRATION, :routes, :id, [])
      end
    end
    
    note
    When queuing a batched background migration, you need to restrict the schema to the database where you make the actual changes. In this case, we are updating routes records, so we set restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_main. If, however, you need to perform a CI data migration, you would set restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_ci.

    After deployment, our application: - Continues using the data as before. - Ensures that both existing and new data are migrated.

  4. In the next release, remove the trigger. We must also add a new post-deployment migration that checks that the batched background migration is completed. For example:

    class FinalizeBackfillRouteNamespaceId < Gitlab::Database::Migration[2.0]
      MIGRATION = 'BackfillRouteNamespaceId'
      disable_ddl_transaction!
    
      restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_main
    
      def up
        ensure_batched_background_migration_is_finished(
          job_class_name: MIGRATION,
          table_name: :routes,
          column_name: :id,
          job_arguments: [],
          finalize: true
        )
      end
    
      def down
        # no-op
      end
    end
    
    note
    If the batched background migration is not finished, the system will execute the batched background migration inline. If you don’t want to see this behavior, you need to pass finalize: false.

    If the application does not depend on the data being 100% migrated (for instance, the data is advisory, and not mission-critical), then you can skip this final step. This step confirms that the migration is completed, and all of the rows were migrated.

After the batched migration is completed, you can safely depend on the data in routes.namespace_id being populated.

Batching over non-distinct columns

The default batching strategy provides an efficient way to iterate over primary key columns. However, if you need to iterate over columns where values are not unique, you must use a different batching strategy.

The LooseIndexScanBatchingStrategy batching strategy uses a special version of EachBatch to provide efficient and stable iteration over the distinct column values.

This example shows a batched background migration where the issues.project_id column is used as the batching column.

Database post-migration:

class ProjectsWithIssuesMigration < Gitlab::Database::Migration[2.0]
  MIGRATION = 'BatchProjectsWithIssues'
  INTERVAL = 2.minutes
  BATCH_SIZE = 5000
  SUB_BATCH_SIZE = 500
  restrict_gitlab_migration gitlab_schema: :gitlab_main

  disable_ddl_transaction!
  def up
    queue_batched_background_migration(
      MIGRATION,
      :issues,
      :project_id,
      job_interval: INTERVAL,
      batch_size: BATCH_SIZE,
      batch_class_name: 'LooseIndexScanBatchingStrategy', # Override the default batching strategy
      sub_batch_size: SUB_BATCH_SIZE
    )
  end

  def down
    delete_batched_background_migration(MIGRATION, :issues, :project_id, [])
  end
end

Implementing the background migration class:

module Gitlab
  module BackgroundMigration
    class BatchProjectsWithIssues < Gitlab::BackgroundMigration::BatchedMigrationJob
      include Gitlab::Database::DynamicModelHelpers

      def perform
        distinct_each_batch(operation_name: :backfill_issues) do |batch|
          project_ids = batch.pluck(batch_column)
          # do something with the distinct project_ids
        end
      end
    end
  end
end
note
Additional filters defined with scope_to will be ignored by LooseIndexScanBatchingStrategy and distinct_each_batch.

Testing

Writing tests is required for:

  • The batched background migrations’ queueing migration.
  • The batched background migration itself.
  • A cleanup migration.

The :migration and schema: :latest RSpec tags are automatically set for background migration specs. Refer to the Testing Rails migrations style guide.

Remember that before and after RSpec hooks migrate your database down and up. These hooks can result in other batched background migrations being called. Using spy test doubles with have_received is encouraged, instead of using regular test doubles, because your expectations defined in a it block can conflict with what is called in RSpec hooks. Refer to issue #35351 for more details.

Best practices

  1. Know how much data you’re dealing with.
  2. Make sure the batched background migration jobs are idempotent.
  3. Confirm the tests you write are not false positives.
  4. If the data being migrated is critical and cannot be lost, the clean-up migration must also check the final state of the data before completing.
  5. Discuss the numbers with a database specialist. The migration may add more pressure on DB than you expect. Measure on staging, or ask someone to measure on production.
  6. Know how much time is required to run the batched background migration.

Additional tips and strategies

ChatOps integration

The batched background migrations framework has ChatOps support. Using ChatOps, GitLab engineers can interact with the batched background migrations present in the system.

List batched background migrations

To list the batched background migrations in the system, run this command:

/chatops run batched_background_migrations list

Output example:

List command

note
ChatOps returns 20 batched background migrations order by created_at (DESC).

Monitor the progress and status of a batched background migration

To see the status and progress of a specific batched background migration, run this command:

/chatops run batched_background_migrations status MIGRATION_ID

Output example:

Status command

Progress represents the percentage of the background migration that has been completed.

Definitions of the batched background migration states:

  • Active: Either:
    • Ready to be picked by the runner.
    • Running batched jobs.
  • Finalizing: Running batched jobs.
  • Failed: Failed batched background migration.
  • Finished: Completed batched background migration.
  • Paused: Not visible to the runner.

Pause a batched background migration

If you want to pause a batched background migration, you need to run the following command:

/chatops run batched_background_migrations pause MIGRATION_ID

Output example:

Pause command

note
You can pause only active batched background migrations.

Resume a batched background migration

If you want to resume a batched background migration, you need to run the following command:

/chatops run batched_background_migrations resume MIGRATION_ID

Output example:

Resume command

note
You can resume only active batched background migrations

Viewing failure error logs

You can view failures in two ways:

  • Via GitLab logs:
    1. After running a batched background migration, if any jobs fail, view the logs in Kibana. View the production Sidekiq log and filter for:

      • json.new_state: failed
      • json.job_class_name: <Batched Background Migration job class name>
      • json.job_arguments: <Batched Background Migration job class arguments>
    2. Review the json.exception_class and json.exception_message values to help understand why the jobs failed.

    3. Remember the retry mechanism. Having a failure does not mean the job failed. Always check the last status of the job.

  • Via database:

    1. Get the batched background migration CLASS_NAME.
    2. Execute the following query in the PostgreSQL console:

       SELECT migration.id, migration.job_class_name, transition_logs.exception_class, transition_logs.exception_message
       FROM batched_background_migrations as migration
       INNER JOIN batched_background_migration_jobs as jobs
       ON jobs.batched_background_migration_id = migration.id
       INNER JOIN batched_background_migration_job_transition_logs as transition_logs
       ON transition_logs.batched_background_migration_job_id = jobs.id
       WHERE transition_logs.next_status = '2' AND migration.job_class_name = "CLASS_NAME";