Incidents/2023-09-27 Kafka-jumbo mirror-makers

From Wikitech

document status: in-review


Incident metadata (see Incident Scorecard)
Incident ID 2023-09-27 Kafka-jumbo mirror-makers Start 2023-09-26 20:00:00
Task T347481 End 2023-09-27 14:05:00
People paged 0 Responder count 7
Coordinators Ben Tullis Affected metrics/SLOs No relevant SLOs exist
Impact Minimal user facing outages. Wikidata Query Service update pipline was stuck, which led to significant update lag on WDQS. Possible delay to downstream pipeline processing, but no data loss expected.

Current status: resolved

incident coordinator: Ben Tullis status last updated: n/a

Responders: Luca Toscano ,Balthazar Rouberol, Steve Munene, Joseph Allemandou, David Causse (WDQS), Peter Fischer (WDQS)

Provide some bullet points communicating:

  • End users of mediawiki projects are not currently affected
    • We are seeing mirror makers crashing and restarting, when mirroring topics from main-eqiad to kafka-jumbo.
    • This may have a knock-on effect on our data processing pipelines, but we are not aware of any data loss at the moment.
    • Wikidata Query Service updates were lagging during the outage, leading to self-throttling of bots and stale data being returned to users.
  • The mirror-maker processes start up successfully, but then crash at some time afterwards.
  • They are restarted by systemd, but continue to crash in this loop.
  • We have not seen any other mirror-maker processes fail

Graphs of the topic replication rate and consumer lag


All times in UTC.

  • 20:00 UTC First set of crashes recorded by Icinga, affecting all main_eqiad_to_jumbo_eqiad@0 services
  • Processes restarted by puppet on each of the servers of the next 30 minutes
  • 20:30 UTC Another slew of crashes followed by recoveries.
  • 20:42 UTC we also received a ‘message rate too low’ alert
  • PROBLEM - Kafka MirrorMaker main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad average message produce rate in last 30m on alert1001 is CRITICAL: 0 le 0
  • The topics were effectively blocked from replicating between 20:00 and around 08:08
  • 07:08 UTC Steve Munene reponds on IRC and requests assistance. Luca Toscano and Balthazar Rouberol also begin investigating.

Tests seem to show that running with 9 mirror maker processes is stable, but if we increase the number of mirror maker processes to 15 (which is what puppet wants to do) then it becomes unstable again.

We have seen RecordTooLargeException messages on kafka-main1003. Only this broker.

First and last RecordTooLargeException messages from the /var/log/kafka/server.log file on kafka-main1003.

[2023-09-26 19:54:46,039] ERROR [GroupMetadataManager brokerId=1003] Appending metadata message for group kafka-mirror-main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad generation 15610 failed due to org.apache.kafka.common.errors.RecordTooLargeException, returning UNKNOWN error code to the client (

[2023-09-27 08:28:05,100] ERROR [GroupMetadataManager brokerId=1003] Appending metadata message for group kafka-mirror-main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad generation 19944 failed due to org.apache.kafka.common.errors.RecordTooLargeException, returning UNKNOWN error code to the client (

These generation numbers appear generally in sequence, but there are some missing. I don’t know if this is relevant, but here is the list of missing generation numbers from .

  • 10:30 UTC We have been running on 9 mirror maker processes for some time with no problems observed. There have been no more RecordTooLargeException errors on kafka-main1003 since the last one at 08:28
  • 12:30 UTC elukey slowly started re-enabling the mirrormakers over the next 30 minutes
  • 13:00 UTC as the mirrormaker for kafka-jumbo1015 was re-enabled it triggered another failure, with the same logs at the broker side.
  • 13:10 We tried another test by stopping the mirrormaker on kafka-jumbo1001 and starting it on kafka-jumbo1015 - This was stable, which indicates that it is the 15th mirrormaker that causes the instability.
  • 13:45 After some research, documented we reason that the only way to fix this bug would be to increase the max.message.size on the kafka-main brokers. However, we don’t want to change this setting on the other clusters, so we have decided instead to limit the number of mirrormaker instances to 9 instead of 15.
  • 14:00 Luca proposes a patch to exclude mirrormaker from the soon-to-be-decommissioned hosts, kafka-jumbo100[1-6]
  • 14:05 Ben merges and deploys the patch, runs puppet on all kafka-jumbo brokers and removes downtime. Incident resolved.


The issue was first detected by Steve Munene and other engineers checking the #wikimedia-analytics IRC channel

We saw lots of Icinga messages like this:

PROBLEM - Kafka MirrorMaker main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad@0 on kafka-jumbo1001 is CRITICAL: PROCS CRITICAL: 0 processes with command name java, regex args\.properties

PROBLEM - Kafka MirrorMaker main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad average message consume rate in last 30m on alert1001 is CRITICAL: 0 le 0

PROBLEM - Kafka MirrorMaker main-eqiad_to_jumbo-eqiad average message produce rate in last 30m on alert1001 is CRITICAL: 0 le 0

We also saw AlertManager alerts like this:

(SystemdUnitCrashLoop) firing: (15) crashloop on kafka-jumbo1001:9100 - TODO - -


  • We think that the root cause is a bug in our version of Kafka and/or Mirrormaker
  • This triggers when we increase the number of mirrormaker instances pulling from kafka-main-eqiad to kafka-jumbo to exactly 15 (or probably more)
  • There is a proposed workaround, but this requires changing the settings of kafka-main, which we did not want to do.

What went well?

  • We believe that there was no data loss.

What went poorly?

  • We had a period of almost 12 hours when messages weren't being replicated to kafka-jumbo from kafka-main-eqiad.
  • Poor sandboxing of the WDQS updater test instance caused the production WDQS updater to process too many reconciliation causing excessive lag in eqiad for 2 hours

Where did we get lucky?

  • Nothing in particular.

Links to relevant documentation


  • Upgrade Kafka to 2.x or 3.x
  • We could consider whether we want to change the settings on kafka-main but for now we have just selected a smaller number of mirrormakers.
  • phab:T347515: better sandboxing of the WDQS updater test instance


Incident Engagement ScoreCard
Question Answer


People Were the people responding to this incident sufficiently different than the previous five incidents?
Were the people who responded prepared enough to respond effectively
Were fewer than five people paged?
Were pages routed to the correct sub-team(s)?
Were pages routed to online (business hours) engineers?  Answer “no” if engineers were paged after business hours.
Process Was the "Incident status" section atop the Google Doc kept up-to-date during the incident?
Was a public entry created?
Is there a phabricator task for the incident?
Are the documented action items assigned?
Is this incident sufficiently different from earlier incidents so as not to be a repeat occurrence?
Tooling To the best of your knowledge was the open task queue free of any tasks that would have prevented this incident? Answer “no” if there are

open tasks that would prevent this incident or make mitigation easier if implemented.

Were the people responding able to communicate effectively during the incident with the existing tooling?
Did existing monitoring notify the initial responders?
Were the engineering tools that were to be used during the incident, available and in service?
Were the steps taken to mitigate guided by an existing runbook?
Total score (count of all “yes” answers above)