Data services such as RabbitMQ often have many tunable parameters. Some configurations make a lot of sense for development but are not really suitable for production. No single configuration fits every use case. It is, therefore, important to assess system configuration and have a plan for “day two operations” activities such as upgrades before going into production.
Production systems have concerns that go beyond configuration: a certain degree of system observability (monitoring, metrics), application resource usage and security (e.g. firewalls, credentials and shared secret generation) are essential. This guide provides an overview of such topics as well.
Monitoring and metrics are the foundation of a production-grade system. Besides helping detect issues, it provides the operator data that can be used to size and configure both RabbitMQ nodes and applications.
Operators also should keep RabbitMQ support timelines in mind when picking a version to deploy.
It is often necessary to seed a cluster with virtual hosts, users, permissions, topologies, policies
and so on. The recommended way of doing this at deployment time is via definition import.
Definitions can be imported on node boot or at any point after cluster deployment
rabbitmqadmin or the
POST /api/definitions HTTP API endpoint.
In a single-tenant environment, for example, when your RabbitMQ
cluster is dedicated to power a single system in production,
using default virtual host (
/) is perfectly fine.
In multi-tenant environments, use a separate vhost for
each tenant/environment, e.g.
project2_production, and so on.
For production environments, delete the default user (
Default user only can connect from localhost by default, because it has well-known
credentials. Instead of enabling remote connections, consider creating a separate user
with administrative permissions and a generated password.
It is recommended to use a separate user per application. For example, if you have a mobile app, a Web app, and a data aggregation system, you’d have 3 separate users. This makes a number of things easier:
- Correlating client connections with applications
- Using fine-grained permissions
- Credentials roll-over (e.g. periodically or in case of a breach)
In case there are many instances of the same application, there’s a trade-off between better security (having a set of credentials per instance) and convenience of provisioning (sharing a set of credentials between some or all instances).
For IoT applications that involve many clients performing the same or similar function and having fixed IP addresses, it may make sense to authenticate using x509 certificates or source IP address ranges.
RabbitMQ nodes are limited by various resources, both physical (e.g. the amount of RAM available) as well as software (e.g. max number of file handles a process can open). It is important to evaluate resource limit configurations before going into production and continuously monitor resource usage after that.
Monitoring several aspects of the system, from infrastructure and kernel metrics to RabbitMQ to application-level metrics is essential. While monitoring requires an upfront investment in terms of time, it is very effective at catching issues and noticing potentially problematic trends early (or at all).
RabbitMQ uses Resource-driven alarms to throttle publishers when consumers do not keep up.
By default, RabbitMQ will not accept any new messages when it detects
that it’s using more than 40% of the available memory (as reported by the OS):
vm_memory_high_watermark.relative = 0.4. This is a safe default
and care should be taken when modifying this value, even when the
host is a dedicated RabbitMQ node.
The OS and file system use system memory to speed up operations for all system processes. Failing to leave enough free system memory for this purpose will have an adverse effect on system performance due to OS swapping, and can even result in RabbitMQ process termination.
A few recommendations when adjusting the default
- Nodes hosting RabbitMQ should have at least 256 MiB of memory available at all times. Deployments that use quorum queues, Shovel and Federation may need more.
- The recommended
0.4 to 0.7
- Values above
0.7should be used with care and with solid memory usage and infrastructure-level monitoring in place. The OS and file system must be left with at least 30% of the memory, otherwise performance may degrade severely due to paging.
These are some very broad-stroked guidelines. As with every tuning scenario, monitoring, benchmarking and measuring are required to find the best setting for the environment and workload.
Learn more about RabbitMQ and system memory in a separate guide.
The current 50MB
disk_free_limit default works very well for
development and tutorials.
Production deployments require a much greater safety margin.
Insufficient disk space will lead to node failures and may result in data loss
as all disk writes will fail.
Why is the default 50MB then? Development
environments sometimes use really small partitions to host
/var/lib, for example, which means nodes go
into resource alarm state right after booting. The very low
default ensures that RabbitMQ works out of the box for
everyone. As for production deployments, we recommend the
disk_free_limit.relative = 1.0is the minimum recommended value and it translates to the total amount of memory available. For example, on a host dedicated to RabbitMQ with 4GB of system memory, if available disk space drops below 4GB, all publishers will be blocked and no new messages will be accepted. Queues will need to be drained, normally by consumers, before publishing will be allowed to resume.
disk_free_limit.relative = 1.5is a safer production value. On a RabbitMQ node with 4GB of memory, if available disk space drops below 6GB, all new messages will be blocked until the disk alarm clears. If RabbitMQ needs to flush to disk 4GB worth of data, as can sometimes be the case during shutdown, there will be sufficient disk space available for RabbitMQ to start again. In this specific example, RabbitMQ will start and immediately block all publishers since 2GB is well under the required 6GB.
disk_free_limit.relative = 2.0is the most conservative production value, we cannot think of any reason to use anything higher. If you want full confidence in RabbitMQ having all the disk space that it needs, at all times, this is the value to use.
Operating systems limit maximum number of concurrently open file handles, which includes network sockets. Make sure that you have limits set high enough to allow for expected number of concurrent connections and queues.
Make sure your environment allows for at least 50K open file descriptors for effective RabbitMQ user, including in development environments.
As a rule of thumb, multiply the 95th percentile number of concurrent connections by 2 and add total number of queues to calculate recommended open file handle limit. Values as high as 500K are not inadequate and won’t consume a lot of hardware resources, and therefore are recommended for production setups.
See Networking guide for more information.
It is highly recommended that logs of all RabbitMQ nodes and applications (when possible) are collected and aggregated. Logs can be crucially important in investigating unusual system behaviour.
The way applications are designed and use RabbitMQ client libraries is a major contributor to the overall system resilience. Applications that use resources inefficiently or leak them will eventually affect the rest of the system. For example, an app that continuously opens connections but never closes them will exhaust cluster nodes out of file descriptors so no new connections will be accepted. This and similar problems can manifest themselves in more complex scenarios, e.g those collectively known as the thundering herd problem.
This section covers a number of most common problems. Most of these problems are generally not protocol-specific or new. They can be hard to detect, however. Adequate monitoring of the system is critically important as it is the only way to spot problematic trends (e.g. channel leaks, growing file descriptor usage from poor connection management) early.
Messaging protocols generally assume long-lived connections. Some applications connect to RabbitMQ on start and only close the connection(s) when they have to terminate. Others open and close connections more dynamically. For the latter group it is important to close them when they are no longer used.
Connections can be closed for reasons outside of application developer’s control. Messaging protocols supported by RabbitMQ use a feature called heartbeats (the name may vary but the concept does not) to detect such connections quicker than the TCP stack. Developers should be careful about using heartbeat timeout that are too low (less than 5 seconds) as that may produce false positives when network congestion or system load goes up.
Very short lived connections should be avoided when possible. The following section will cover this in more detail.
As mentioned above, messaging protocols generally assume long-lived connections. Some applications may open a new connection to perform a single operation (e.g. publish a message) and then close it. This is highly inefficient as opening a connection is an expensive operation (compared to reusing an existing one). Such workload also leads to connection churn. Nodes experiencing high connection churn must be tuned to release TCP connections much quicker than kernel defaults, otherwise they will eventually run out of file handles or memory and will stop accepting new connections.
If a small number of long lived connections is not an option, connection pooling can help reduce peak resource usage.
Some client libraries, for example, Java, .NET and Ruby, support automatic connection recovery after network failures. If the client used provides this feature, it is recommended to use it instead of developing your own recovery mechanism.
Other clients (Go, Pika) do not support automatic connection recovery as a feature but do provide examples that demonstrate how to recover from connection failures.
Channels also consume resources in both client and server. Applications should minimize the number of channels they use when possible and close channels that are no longer necessary. Channels, like connections, are meant to be long lived.
Note that closing a connection automatically closes all channels on it.
Polling consumers (consumption with
basic.get) is a feature that application developers
should avoid in most cases as polling is inherently inefficient.
See the section on vhosts, users, and credentials above.
RabbitMQ nodes authenticate to each other using a shared secret stored in a file. On Linux and other UNIX-like systems, it is necessary to restrict cookie file access only to the OS users that will run RabbitMQ and CLI tools.
It is important that the value is generated in a reasonably secure way (e.g. not computed from an easy to guess value). This is usually done using deployment automation tools at the time of initial deployment. Those tools can use default or placeholder values: don’t rely on them. Allowing the runtime to generate a cookie file on one node and copying it to all other nodes is also a poor practice: it makes the generated value more predictable since the generation algorithm is known.
CLI tools use the same authentication mechanism. It is recommended that inter-node and CLI communication port access is limited to the hosts that run RabbitMQ nodes or CLI tools.
Securing inter-node communication with TLS is recommended. It implies that CLI tools are also configured to use TLS.
Ports used by RabbitMQ can be broadly put into one of two categories:
- Ports used by client libraries (AMQP 0-9-1, AMQP 1.0, MQTT, STOMP, HTTP API)
- All other ports (inter node communication, CLI tools and so on)
Access to ports from the latter category generally should be restricted to hosts running RabbitMQ nodes or CLI tools. Ports in the former category should be accessible to hosts that run applications, which in some cases can mean public networks, for example, behind a load balancer.
We recommend using TLS connections when possible, at least to encrypt traffic. Peer verification (authentication) is also recommended. Development and QA environments can use self-signed TLS certificates. Self-signed certificates can be appropriate in production environments when RabbitMQ and all applications run on a trusted network or isolated using technologies such as VMware NSX.
While RabbitMQ tries to offer a secure TLS configuration by default (e.g. SSLv3 is disabled), we recommend evaluating TLS configuration (versions cipher suites and so on) using tools such as testssl.sh. Please refer to the TLS guide to learn more.
Note that TLS can have significant impact on overall system throughput, including CPU usage of both RabbitMQ and applications that use it.
Production environments may require network configuration tuning, for example, to sustain a high number of concurrent clients. Please refer to the Networking Guide for details.
The number of queues, queue replication factor, number of connections, maximum message backlog and sometimes message throughput are factors that determine how large should a cluster be.
Single node clusters can be sufficient when simplicity is preferred over everything else: development, integration testing and certain QA environments.
Three node clusters are the next step up. They can tolerate a single node failure (or unavailability) and still maintain quorum. Simplicity is traded off for availability, resiliency and, in certain cases, throughput.
It is recommended to use clusters with an odd number of nodes (3, 5, 7, etc) so that when one node becomes unavailable, the service remains available and a clear majority of nodes can be identified.
For most environments, configuring queue replication to more than half — but not all — cluster nodes is sufficient.
Uneven Numbers of Nodes and Cluster Majority
It is important to pick a partition handling strategy before going into production.
When in doubt, use the
pause_minority strategy with an odd number of nodes (3, 5, 7, and so on).
Uneven number of nodes make network partition recovery more predictable, with the common option of the minority automatically refusing to service commands.
Data Locality Considerations
With multi-node clusters, data locality becomes an important consideration. Since clients can connect to any node, RabbitMQ nodes may need to perform inter-cluster routing of messages and internal operations. Data locality will be best when producers (publishers) connect to RabbitMQ nodes where queue leaders are running. Such topology is difficult to achieve in practice.
With classic queues, all deliveries are performed from the leader replica. Quorum queues can deliver messages from queue replicas as well, so as long as consumers connect to a node where a quorum queue replica is hosted, messages delivered to those consumers will be performed from the local node.
Growing Node Count to Sustain More Concurrent Clients
Environments that have to sustain a large number of concurrent client connections will benefit from more cluster nodes as long as the connections are distributed across them. This can be achieved using a load balancer or making clients randomly pick a node to connect to from the provided node list.
Increasing Node Counts vs. Deploying Separate Clusters for Separate Purposes
All metadata (definitions: virtual hosts, users, queues, exchanges, bindings, etc.) is replicated across all nodes in the cluster, and most metadata changes are synchronous in nature.
The cost of propagating such changes goes up with the number of cluster nodes, both during operations and node restarts. Users who find themselves in need of clusters with node counts in double digits should consider using independent clusters for separate parts of the system where possible.
A RabbitMQ cluster will typically function well without clocks of participating servers being synchronized. However some plugins, such as the Management UI, make use of local timestamps for metrics processing and may display incorrect statistics when the current time of nodes drift apart. It is therefore recommended that servers use NTP or similar to ensure clocks remain in sync.