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How to Set Up a MongoDB NoSQL Cluster Using Oracle Solaris Zones

by Orgad Kimchi

Published June 2013

How to set up a MongoDB NoSQL cluster on an x86-based system using Oracle Solaris Zones and the Oracle Solaris 11 Service Management Facility and DTrace analysis tool.

This article starts with a brief overview of MongoDB and follows with an example of setting up a three-node MongoDB cluster on an x86-based system. As a prerequisite, you should have a basic understanding of Oracle Solaris Zones and networking administration.

About MongoDB and Oracle Solaris Zones

MongoDB is a NoSQL open source document-oriented database that stores structured data as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)–like documents with dynamic schemas. This enables rapid development since the database schemas can be modified quickly as applications evolve without the need to shut down the database. In addition, MongoDB supports master-slave replication using a replication set, and it also provides horizontal scalability with the sharding feature, which enables you to distribute the data (based on a shard key) on multiple MongoDB servers.

The following are benefits of using Oracle Solaris for a MongoDB cluster:

  • You can add new MongoDB hosts to the cluster in minutes instead of hours using the zone cloning feature. Using Oracle Solaris Zones, you can easily scale out your MongoDB cluster.
  • In case there is a user error or software error, the Service Management Facility ensures the high availability of each cluster member and ensures that MongoDB replication failover will occur only as a last resort.
  • You can discover performance issues in minutes versus days by using DTrace, which provides increased operating system observability. DTrace provides a holistic performance overview of the operating system and allows deep performance analysis through cooperation with the built-in MongoDB tools.
  • ZFS built-in compression provides optimized disk I/O utilization for better I/O performance.

In the example presented in this article, all the MongoDB cluster building blocks will be installed using the Oracle Solaris Zones, Service Management Facility, ZFS, and network virtualization technologies. Figure 1 shows the architecture:

Figure 1

Figure 1. Architecture

Download and Install MongoDB

For this article, I used Oracle Solaris 11.1, which you can download here.

  1. To get a MongoDB distribution, download a recent stable release from the MongoDB download site. For this article, I used the MongoDB Oracle Solaris 64-bit 2.4.1 release.

    Note: Only versions for Oracle Solaris on x86-based systems are available. No versions are available for SPARC-based systems.

  2. On the global zone, create the /usr/local directory if it doesn't exist. The cluster configuration will share the MongoDB directory structure across the zones as a read-only file system.
    root@global_zone:~# mkdir -p /usr/local
  3. Copy the MongoDB tarball into /usr/local:
    root@global_zone:~# cp /tmp/mongodb-sunos5-x86_64-2.4.1.tgz /usr/local
  4. Unpack the tarball:
    root@global_zone:~# cd /usr/local
    root@global_zone:~# tar -xvfz /usr/local/mongodb-sunos5-x86_64-2.4.1.tgz
  5. Rename the location of the MongoDB binaries:
    root@global_zone:~# ln -s /usr/local/mongodb-sunos5-x86_64-2.4.1 /usr/local/mongodb
  6. Create the MongoDB configuration directory:
    root@global_zone:~# mkdir /usr/local/mongodb/etc
  7. Create the MongoDB extra libraries directory:
    root@global_zone:~# mkdir /usr/local/mongodb/mongo-extra-64
  8. MongoDB requires an updated version of libstdc. Download the libstdc package from http://mirror.opencsw.org/opencsw/allpkgs/libstdc%2b%2b6-4.7.2%2cREV%3d2013.03.28-SunOS5.10-i386-CSW.pkg.gz.
  9. Unzip the libstdc package:
    root@global_zone:~# gzip -d /tmp/libstdc++6-4.7.2,REV=2013.03.28-SunOS5.10-i386-CSW.pkg.gz
  10. Convert the package to a file system format using the pkgtrans command:
    root@global_zone:~# cd /tmp root@global_zone:~# pkgtrans /tmp/libstdc++6-4.7.2\,REV\=2013.03.28-SunOS5.10-i386-CSW.pkg /tmp
  11. The following output will appear. Press Enter at the prompt:
    The following packages are available:
      1  CSWlibstdc++6     libstdc++6 - The GNU Compiler Collection, libstdc++.so.6 (i386) 4.7.2,REV=2013.03.28
      Select package(s) you wish to process (or 'all' to process
    all packages). (default: all) [?,??,q]: 
  12. Copy the libstdc library to /usr/local/mongodb/mongo-extra-64/:
    root@global_zone:~# cp /tmp/CSWlibstdc++6/root/opt/csw/lib/amd64/libstdc++.so.6.0.17 \
  13. Create the MongoDB group:
    root@global_zone:~# groupadd mongodb
  14. Add the MongoDB user and set the user's password:
    root@global_zone:~# useradd -g mongodb mongodb
    root@global_zone:~# passwd mongodb
  15. Create the MongoDB user's home directory:
    root@global_zone:~# mkdir -p /export/home/mongodb
    root@global_zone:~# chown -R mongodb:mongodb /export/home/mongodb
  16. Edit the MongoDB configuration files, which are shown in Table 1:

    Table 1. MongoDB Configuration Files

    File Name Description
    mongodb-start Start-up script for the MongoDB daemon
    mongodb.conf File that specifies parameters relevant to the MongoDB daemon

    Note: To learn more about how MongoDB is controlled by these configuration files, see the MongoDB manual.

    1. Change directories: root@global_zone:~# cd /usr/local/mongodb/etc
    2. Then edit the mongodb.conf file to set the property values described in Table 2:
      root@global_zone:~# vi mongodb.conf
      fork = true
      quiet = true
      logpath = /var/log/mongodb/mongod.log
      logappend = true
      replSet = rs0
      rest = true

      Table 2. MongoDB Configuration Properties?

      Property Value Description
      fork true Enables a daemon mode for mongod, which is the primary daemon process for the MongoDB system. It handles data requests, manages data format, and performs background management operations.
      quiet true This is the verbose level of the log. In diagnostic or testing situations, set this value to false.
      logpath /var/log/mongodb/mongod.log Specifies file to which the mongod daemon will write its output. If you do not set this value, mongod writes all output to standard output (for example, stdout).
      logappend true Ensures that mongod does not overwrite an existing log file following the server start operation.
      replSet rs0 Specifies the replica set this server is associated with.
      rest true Enables the REST interface that allows HTTP clients to run commands against the server.
    3. Edit the MongoDB startup script file so it looks like the following:
      root@global_zone:~# vi  /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongodb-start
      export LD_PRELOAD_64=/usr/local/mongodb/mongo-extra-64/libstdc++.so.6.0.17:/lib/amd64/libumem.so
      export LC_ALL=C
      /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongod -f /usr/local/mongodb/etc/mongodb.conf
  17. Change the directory ownership:
    root@global_zone:~# chown -R mongodb:mongodb /usr/local/mongodb-sunos5-x86_64-2.4.1
    root@global_zone:~# chmod -R 755 /usr/local/mongodb-sunos5-x86_64-2.4.1

Create the Virtual Network Interfaces

Create a series of virtual network interfaces (VNICs) for the MongoDB zones:

root@global_zone:~# dladm create-vnic -l net0 mongodb_node1

root@global_zone:~# dladm create-vnic -l net0 mongodb_node2
root@global_zone:~# dladm create-vnic -l net0 mongodb_node3

Configure the Network Time Protocol

We should ensure that the system clock on the MongoDB zones is synchronized by using the Network Time Protocol (NTP).

Note: It is best to select an NTP server that can be a dedicated time synchronization source so that other services are not negatively affected if the machine is brought down for planned maintenance.

In the following example, the global zone is configured as an NTP server.

  1. Configure an NTP server:
    root@global_zone:~# cd /etc/inet
    root@global_zone:~# cp ntp.server ntp.conf
    root@global_zone:~# touch /var/ntp/ntp.drift
  2. Edit the NTP server configuration file, as shown in Listing 1:
    root@global_zone:~# vi /etc/inet/ntp.conf
    server prefer
    broadcast ttl 4
    enable auth monitor
    driftfile /var/ntp/ntp.drift
    statsdir /var/ntp/ntpstats/
    filegen peerstats file peerstats type day enable
    filegen loopstats file loopstats type day enable
    filegen clockstats file clockstats type day enable
    keys /etc/inet/ntp.keys
    trustedkey 0
    requestkey 0
    controlkey 0

    Listing 1. NTP Server Configuration File

  3. Enable the NTP server service:
    root@global_zone:~# svcadm enable ntp
  4. Verify that the NTP server is online by using the following command:
    root@global_zone:~# svcs -a | grep ntp
    online         16:04:15 svc:/network/ntp:default

Edit the ZFS Memory Consumption Configuration

Both MongoDB and Oracle Solaris ZFS are memory-intensive processes. In order to avoid a memory shortage for the MongoDB instance, you need reduce the memory consumed by the ZFS ARC cache by tuning the zfs_arc_max parameter to a low value.

  1. Set the parameter to low value, for example 2 GB, as shown in the following example:
    root@global_zone:~# echo "set zfs:zfs_arc_max=2147483648" >> /etc/system
  2. Use the following command to monitor how much memory the ZFS ARC is using:
    root@global_zone:~# kstat -m zfs -s c_max
    module: zfs                             instance: 0
    name:   arcstats                        class:    misc
            c_max                           2147483648

    You can see from the output that the zfs_arc_max property's value is now 2 GB. (c_max is the value for zfs_arc_max in the output of kstat command.)

  3. Restart the system in order to enforce the property value in /etc/system.
    root@global_zone:~# reboot

Create the MongoDB Zones

Table 3 shows a summary of the MongoDB zone configuration we will create:

Table 3. Zone Summary

Zone Name Function ZFS Mount Point VNIC Name IP Address Memory Required
mongodb-node1 Primary /zones/mongodb-node1 mongodb_node1 14 GB
mongodb-node2 Secondary /zones/mongodb-node2 mongodb_node2 14 GB
mongodb-node3 Secondary /zones/mongodb-node3 mongodb_node3 14 GB
  1. If you don't already have a file system for the MongoDB zones, run the following command:
    root@global_zone:~# zfs create -o compression=on -o mountpoint=/zones rpool/zones
  2. Create the mongodb-node1 zone, as shown in Listing 2:
    root@global_zone:~# zonecfg -z mongodb-node1
    Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> create
    create: Using system default template 'SYSdefault'
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> set limitpriv="default,sys_time"
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> set autoboot=true
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> set zonepath=/zones/mongodb-node1
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> add fs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:fs> set dir=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:fs> set special=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:fs> set type=lofs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:fs> set options=[ro,nodevices]
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:fs> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> add net
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:net> set physical=mongodb_node1
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:net> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> add capped-memory
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:capped-memory> set physical=14g
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1:capped-memory> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> verify
    zonecfg:mongodb-node1> exit

    Listing 2. Creating the mongodb-node1 Zone

  3. Create the second MongoDB zone, as shown in Listing 3:
    root@global_zone:~# zonecfg -z mongodb-node2
    Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> create
    create: Using system default template 'SYSdefault'
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> set limitpriv="default,sys_time"
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> set autoboot=true
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> set zonepath=/zones/mongodb-node2
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> add fs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:fs> set dir=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:fs> set special=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:fs> set type=lofs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:fs> set options=[ro,nodevices]
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:fs> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> add net
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:net> set physical=mongodb_node2
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:net> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> add capped-memory
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:capped-memory> set physical=14g
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2:capped-memory> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> verify
    zonecfg:mongodb-node2> exit

    Listing 3. Creating the mongodb-node2 Zone

  4. Create the third MongoDB zone, as shown in Listing 4:
    root@global_zone:~# zonecfg -z mongodb-node3
    Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> create
    create: Using system default template 'SYSdefault'
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> set limitpriv="default,sys_time"
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> set autoboot=true
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> set zonepath=/zones/mongodb-node3
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> add fs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:fs> set dir=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:fs> set special=/usr/local
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:fs> set type=lofs
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:fs> set options=[ro,nodevices]
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:fs> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> add net
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:net> set physical=mongodb_node3
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:net> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> add capped-memory
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:capped-memory> set physical=14g
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3:capped-memory> end
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> verify
    zonecfg:mongodb-node3> exit

    Listing 4. Creating the mongodb-node3 Zone

  5. Now, install the mongodb-zone1 zone; later we will clone this zone in order to accelerate zone creation for the other zones.
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node1 install
  6. Boot the mongodb-node1 zone and check the status of the zones we've created, as shown in Listing 5:
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node1 boot
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm list -cv
    ID NAME             STATUS     PATH                   BRAND    IP
    0  global           running    /                      solaris  shared
    1  mongodb-node1    running    /zones/mongodb-node1   solaris  excl
    -  mongodb-node2    configured /zones/mongodb-node2   solaris  excl
    -  mongodb-node3    configured /zones/mongodb-node3   solaris  excl
    root@global_zone:~# zlogin -C mongodb-node1   

    Listing 5. Booting the mongodb-node1 Zone

  7. Provide the zone host information by using the following configuration for the mongodb-node1 zone:
    1. For the host name, use mongodb-node1.
    2. Ensure the network interface for mongodb_node1 has an IP address of
    3. Ensure the name service is based on your network configuration. In this article, we will use /etc/hosts for name resolution. Optionally, you can set up DNS for host name resolution.
  8. After finishing the zone setup, you will get the login prompt. Log in to the zone as root using the root password.
  9. MongoDB requires libraries for its environment, so install the gcc compiler version 4.5 using the following command:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# pkg install gcc-45
  10. Create the MongoDB group:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# groupadd mongodb
  11. Add the MongoDB user and set the user's password:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# useradd -g mongodb mongodb
    root@mongodb-node1:~# passwd mongodb
  12. Create the MongoDB user's home directory:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# mkdir -p /export/home/mongodb
  13. Edit the MongoDB user's bash shell initialization script, as shown in Listing 6:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# vi /export/home/mongodb/.profile
    export LD_PRELOAD_64=/lib/secure/64/libstdc++.so.6.0.1
    export LC_ALL=C
    ulimit -n 20000
    case ${SHELL} in
    typeset +x PS1="\u@\h:\w\\$ "

    Listing 6. Editing the Initialization Script

  14. Change the MongoDB home directory ownership:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# chown -R mongodb:mongodb /export/home/mongodb
  15. Create a directory for the MongoDB data files:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# mkdir -p /data/db
    root@mongodb-node1:~# chown -R mongodb:mongodb /data/db
  16. Create a directory for the MongoDB log files:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# mkdir /var/log/mongodb
    root@mongodb-node1:~# chown -R mongodb:mongodb /var/log/mongodb
  17. Create a symbolic link for the libstdc library in order to add it as a secure library:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# ln -s /usr/local/mongodb/mongo-extra-64/libstdc++.so.6.0.17 /lib/secure/64
  18. Configure an NTP client, as shown in the following example:
    1. Install the NTP package:
      root@mongodb-node1:~# pkg install ntp
    2. Create the NTP client configuration files:
      root@mongodb-node1:~# cd /etc/inet
      root@mongodb-node1:~# cp ntp.client ntp.conf
      root@mongodb-node1:~# touch /var/ntp/ntp.drift
  19. Edit the NTP client configuration file as follows:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# vi /etc/inet/ntp.conf
    server <ntp-server> prefer
    driftfile /var/ntp/ntp.drift
    statsdir /var/ntp/ntpstats/
    filegen peerstats file peerstats type day enable
    filegen loopstats file loopstats type day enable

    Note: Replace the IP address ntp-server with the IP address or host name of your local time server or with the IP address or host name of a server recommended at http://support.ntp.org/bin/view/Servers/NTPPoolServers.

  20. Enable the NTP client service:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcadm enable ntp
  21. Verify the NTP client status:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcs ntp
    STATE          STIME    FMRI
    online         12:44:01 svc:/network/ntp:default
  22. Check whether the NTP client can synchronize its clock with the NTP server:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# ntpq -p
  23. Add the MongoDB cluster members' host names and IP addresses to /etc/hosts:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# cat /etc/hosts
    ::1        localhost  localhost loghost mongodb-node1 mongodb-node2 mongodb-node3

    Note: If you are using NTP, you need to add the NTP server host name and IP addresses to /etc/hosts.

Configure the Service Management Facility

The Service Management Facility is a feature of Oracle Solaris for managing system and application services, replacing the legacy init scripting startup. Service Management Facility improves the availability of a system by ensuring that essential system and application services run continuously even in the event of hardware or software failures. In addition, the Service Management Facility auto-restart capability can restart operating system services in case of error without any human intervention.

  1. Use the svcbundle tool to create a Service Management Facility manifest that will automatically start MongoDB upon reboot and restart the service if there is an error.
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcbundle -s service-name=application/mongodb \
    -s start-method="/usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongodb-start" \
    -s model=daemon -o mongodb.xml
  2. Edit the mondodb.xml manifest to enable service startup using the MongoDB group and user. To do this, after the line that contains </dependency>, add the following lines:
       <method_credential group="mongodb" user="mongodb"/>

    Listing 7 shows the MongoDB Service Management Facility manifest after the modification:

    root@mongodb-node1:~# vi mongodb.xml
    <?xml version="1.0" ?>
    <!DOCTYPE service_bundle
      SYSTEM '/usr/share/lib/xml/dtd/service_bundle.dtd.1'>
        Manifest created by svcbundle (2013-Apr-10 11:04:28+0300)
    <service_bundle type="manifest" name="application/mongodb">
        <service version="1" type="service" name="application/mongodb">
                The following dependency keeps us from starting until the
                multi-user milestone is reached.
            <dependency restart_on="none" type="service"
                name="multi_user_dependency" grouping="require_all">
                <service_fmri value="svc:/milestone/multi-user"/>
                   <method_credential group="mongodb" user="mongodb"/>
            <exec_method timeout_seconds="60" type="method" name="start"
                The exec attribute below can be changed to a command that SMF
                should execute to stop the service.  See smf_method(5) for more
            <exec_method timeout_seconds="60" type="method" name="stop"
                The exec attribute below can be changed to a command that SMF
                should execute when the service is refreshed.  Services are
                typically refreshed when their properties are changed in the
                SMF repository.  See smf_method(5) for more details.  It is
                common to retain the value of :true which means that SMF will
                take no action when the service is refreshed.  Alternatively,
                you may wish to provide a method to reread the SMF repository
                and act on any configuration changes.
            <exec_method timeout_seconds="60" type="method" name="refresh"
                We do not need a duration property group, because contract is
                the default.  Search for duration in svc.startd(1M).
            <instance enabled="true" name="default"/>
                    <loctext xml:lang="C">
                            Replace this comment with a short name for the
                    <loctext xml:lang="C">
                            Replace this comment with a brief description of
                            the service

    Listing 7. MongoDB Service Management Facility Manifest

  3. Validate the manifest using the following command:
    root@global_zone:~# svccfg validate mongodb.xml
  4. Start the MongoDB service:
    root@global_zone:~# svccfg import mongodb.xml
  5. Verify that the MongoDB service has been started:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcs mongodb
    STATE          STIME    FMRI
    online         14:51:52 svc:/application/mongodb:default
  6. You can monitor the MongoDB start-up messages using the following commands:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# su - mongodb
    mongodb@mongodb-node1:~ tail -f /var/log/mongodb/mongod.log
  7. Check that MongoDB runs by running the mongotop command, which shows the amount of time a MongoDB instance spends reading and writing data:
    mongodb@mongodb-node1:~ /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongotop
            connected to:
                                ns       total        read       write   2013-04-08T16:44:12
                 mydb.system.users         0ms         0ms         0ms
                local.system.users         0ms         0ms         0ms
              local.system.replset         0ms         0ms         0ms
              local.system.indexes         0ms         0ms         0ms
                 local.startup_log         0ms         0ms         0ms
            local.replset.minvalid         0ms         0ms         0ms
                    local.oplog.rs         0ms         0ms         0ms
                          local.me         0ms         0ms         0ms

    Listing 8. Verifying That MongoDB Is Running

  8. From the global zone, run the following commands to create the mongodb-node2 zone as a clone of mongodb-node1:
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node1 shutdown
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node2 clone mongodb-node1
  9. Boot the mongodb-node2 zone:
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node2 boot
    root@global_zone:~# zlogin -C mongodb-node2
  10. As we experienced previously, the system configuration tool is launched. So do the final configuration for the mongodb-node2 zone:
    1. For the host name, use mongodb-node2.
    2. For the network interface, use mongodb_node2.
    3. Use an IP address of
    4. Ensure the name service is set to none.
  11. From the global zone, perform similar steps for mongodb-node3:
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node3 clone mongodb-node1
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node3 boot
    root@global_zone:~# zlogin -C mongodb-node3
  12. Do the final configuration for the mongodb-node3 zone:
    1. For the host name, use mongodb-node3.
    2. For the network interface, use mongodb_node3.
    3. Use an IP address of
    4. Ensure the name service is set to none.
  13. Boot the mongodb-node1 zone:
    root@global_zone:~# zoneadm -z mongodb-node1 boot
  14. Verify that all the zones are up and running:
    neadm list -cv
     ID NAME          STATUS     PATH                     BRAND    IP
      0 global        running    /                        solaris shared
      1 mongodb-node1 running    /zones/mongodb-node1     solaris  excl
      2 mongodb-node2 running    /zones/mongodb-node2     solaris  excl
      3 mongodb-node3 running    /zones/mongodb-node3     solaris  excl

Verify Name Resolution

Verify that all the MongoDB zones have the following host entries in /etc/hosts:

# cat /etc/hosts

::1         localhost   localhost loghost mongodb-node1     mongodb-node2 mongodb-node3

Note: If you are using an NTP server, you must also add its host name and IP address to /etc/hosts.

Set Up MongoDB Replication

Replication occurs through groups of servers known as replica sets. Most replica sets consist of two or more mongod instances with at most one of these designated as the primary member and the rest as secondary members. Clients direct all writes to the primary member, while the secondary members replicate from the primary asynchronously. Database replication with MongoDB provides redundancy and helps to ensure high availability. In addition, it simplifies backups and might increase read capacity. Most production deployments use replication.

In this example, mongodb-node1 will be the primary member and mongodb-node2 and mongodb-node3 will be secondary members on the rs0 replica set, as shown in the Table 4.

Table 4. Replication Configuration

Host Name Function Replica Set
mongodb-node1 primary rs0
mongodb-node2 secondary rs0
mongodb-node3 secondary rs0
  1. On every zone, verify that the MongoDB instance is up and running using the following command:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcs mongodb
    STATE          STIME    FMRI
    online         14:51:52 svc:/application/mongodb:default
  2. On the first node (mongodb-node1), connect to the MongoDB shell using the following command:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# su - mongodb
    mongodb@mongodb-node1:~ /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongo
  3. Enter the following command sequence in order to add mongodb-node1 into the rs0 replica set.> rsconf = { _id: "rs0", members: [ { _id: 0, host: "mongodb-node1:27017" } ] }

    You should get the following output:

            "_id" : "rs0",
            "members" : [
                            "_id" : 0,
                            "host" : "mongodb-node1:27017"
  4. Use the following command to initiate a replica set consisting of the current member and using the default configuration:
    > rs.initiate( rsconf )

    You should get the following output:

            "info" : "Config now saved locally.  Should come online in about a minute.",
            "ok" : 1
  5. Display the current replica set configuration:
    > rs.conf()

    You should get the following output, which shows only one node (mongodb-node1) in the replica set:

            "_id" : "rs0",
            "version" : 1,
            "members" : [
                            "_id" : 0,
                            "host" : "mongodb-node1:27017"
  6. Next, add the second and third mongod instances (mongodb-node2, mongodb-node3) to the rs0 replica set using the rs.add() method:
    rs0:PRIMARY>  rs.add("mongodb-node2")
      { "ok" : 1 }
    rs0:PRIMARY> rs.add("mongodb-node3")
       { "ok" : 1 }
  7. Run the following command to ensure that replication is properly configured and to check the connections between the current members of the replica set.
    rs0:PRIMARY> rs.status()

    The output shown in Listing 9 should appear:

            "set" : "rs0",
            "date" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:23:00Z"),
            "myState" : 1,
            "members" : [
                            "_id" : 0,
                            "name" : "mongodb-node1:27017",
                            "health" : 1,
                            "state" : 1,
                            "stateStr" : "PRIMARY",
                            "uptime" : 536,
                            "optime" : {
                                    "t" : 1365582138,
                                    "i" : 1
                            "optimeDate" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:18Z"),
                            "self" : true
                            "_id" : 1,
                            "name" : "mongodb-node2:27017",
                            "health" : 1,
                            "state" : 2,
                            "stateStr" : "SECONDARY",
                            "uptime" : 58,
                            "optime" : {
                                    "t" : 1365582138,
                                    "i" : 1
                            "optimeDate" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:18Z"),
                            "lastHeartbeat" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:58Z"),
                            "lastHeartbeatRecv" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:58Z"),
                            "pingMs" : 0
                            "_id" : 2,
                            "name" : "mongodb-node3:27017",
                            "health" : 1,
                            "state" : 2,
                            "stateStr" : "SECONDARY",
                            "uptime" : 42,
                            "optime" : {
                                    "t" : 1365582138,
                                    "i" : 1
                            "optimeDate" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:18Z"),
                            "lastHeartbeat" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:58Z"),
                            "lastHeartbeatRecv" : ISODate("2013-04-10T08:22:59Z"),
                            "pingMs" : 0
            "ok" : 1

    Listing 9. Checking the Replication Configuration

    You can see from the output that mongodb-node1 is the primary and mongodb-node2 and mongodb-node3 are the secondary cluster members.

Perform Basic Database Operations

The MongoDB database holds a set of collections. A collection holds a set of documents. A document is a set of key-value pairs.

Documents have dynamic schema, which means that documents in the same collection do not need to have the same set of fields or structure, and common fields in a collection's documents may hold different types of data.

To display the list of databases, use the following command:

rs0:PRIMARY> show dbs

local   6.0751953125GB

To switch to a new database named mydb, use the following command:

Note: You don't need to create the database before using it for the first time.

rs0:PRIMARY> use mydb

switched to db mydb

To insert documents into a new collection named things within the new database named mydb, do the following.

  1. Create two documents, named j and k, using the following sequence of operations:
    rs0:PRIMARY> j = { name : "mongo" }
    { "name" : "mongo" }
    rs0:PRIMARY> k = { x : 3 }
    { "x" : 3 }
  2. Insert the j and k documents into the collection things using the following sequence of operations:
    rs0:PRIMARY> db.things.insert( j )
    rs0:PRIMARY> db.things.insert( k )
  3. Confirm that the documents exist in the collection things by issuing this query on the things collection:
    rs0:PRIMARY> db.things.find()
    { "_id" : ObjectId("5162ef329e3aac3f0f6972de"), "name" : "mongo" }
    { "_id" : ObjectId("5162ef3c9e3aac3f0f6972df"), "x" : 3 }

    Note: Your document ID values will be different.

  4. Exit from the MongoDB shell:
    rs0:PRIMARY> exit

Check the MongoDB Cluster Redundancy

Let's test the cluster resiliency by simulating the failure of a cluster node.

If the primary MongoDB instance goes down or the other cluster members can't connect because of a network failure, the MongoDB cluster will initiate the election process in order to elect new primary node for the cluster.

  1. As user root, stop the MongoDB service on the mongodb-node1 zone:
    root@global_zone:~# zlogin mongodb-node1
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcadm disable mongodb
  2. Connect to the second MongoDB zone (mongodb-node2) and run the MongoDB shell:
    root@global_zone:~# zlogin mongodb-node2
    root@mongodb-node2:~# su - mongodb
    mongodb@mongodb-node2:~ /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongo
  3. Run the rs.status() command to get the replication set status.
    rs0:PRIMARY> rs.status()

    You will see that mongodb-node2 has been promoted to primary node while mongodb-node3 is still a secondary node.

    Note: During the election process, different hosts can be elected as primary; for example, mongodb-node3 could be made the primary member and mongodb-node2 could be a secondary member. You can define the priority by giving a member higher priority value than other members in the set. Refer to the MongoDB documentation for an example.

  4. Bring up the MongoDB instance on the mongodb-node1 zone: root@mongodb-node1:~# svcadm enable mongodb
  5. Verify that the MongoDB service is up and running:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# svcs mongodb
           STATE          STIME    FMRI
           online         11:29:09 svc:/application/mongodb:default
  6. Connect to the mongodb-node1 zone and run the MongoDB shell:
    root@mongodb-node1:~# su - mongodb
    mongodb@mongodb-node1:~ /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongo
    rs0:SECONDARY> rs.status()

    You will see that mongodb-node1 is a secondary member now and mongodb-node3 is still a secondary member.

    Note: Your cluster membership level might be different because of the election process.

  7. Exit from the MongoDB shell:
    rs0:SECONDARY> exit
  8. (Optional) You can monitor the MongoDB the election process by monitoring the MongoDB log file:
    mongodb@mongodb-node1:~ tail -f /var/log/mongodb/mongod.log

Use DTrace for Better Operating System Observability

The MongoDB software includes built-in tools for analyzing the database workload. However, to get the full picture during performance analysis, you need to observe the operating system in addition to the database. Oracle Solaris includes a comprehensive dynamic tracing facility named DTrace. Using this facility, you can examine the behavior of both user programs and of the operating system itself.

The following example demonstrates how we can use DTrace to analyze an I/O workload pattern during MongoDB database load. We will use the DTrace Toolkit, which is a collection of DTrace scripts located in /usr/dtrace/DTT/, to run the disk I/O performance analysis.

  1. Get the MongoDB primary instance name using the rs.status( ) command from the MongoDB shell. You can find the same information on the Replica Set Status page at http://<mongodb_IPaddress>:28017/_replSet, as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Replica Set Status Page

  2. As the mongodb user, run the following command on the primary MongoDB instance to generate load on the MongoDB database.

    Note: In this example, the primary is mongodb-node2; however, it can be a different host.

    root@global_zone:~# zlogin mongodb-node2
    root@mongodb-node2:~# su - mongodb
    mongodb@mongodb-node2:~ /usr/local/mongodb/bin/mongo
    rs0:PRIMARY> res = benchRun( {     
     ops : [ {          ns : "test.foo" ,
              op : "insert" ,     
    		  doc : { y : { "#RAND_STRING" : [ 10 ] } }      } ] , 
    		  parallel : 2 ,      seconds : 1000 ,   
    		  totals : true  } );

    Listing 10. Generating Load

  3. From another terminal on the global zone, run the DTrace iopattern script, as shown in Listing 11, to analyze the type of disk I/O workload:
    root@global_zone:~# /usr/dtrace/DTT/iopattern
    %RAN  %SEQ  COUNT   MIN    MAX    AVG     KR     KW
      84   16    196    512 1032704  42302      5   8092
      80   20     98   1024  189952  53221      0   5093
      72   28     68   4096   97280  58910      0   3912
      75   25     77   2048   96256  59910      2   4503
      75   25     72   4096   97280  58887      0   4140
      76   24    180    512 1046016 141405      0  24856
      87   13    110    512  181248  46982    115   4932
      75   25     73   4096   96768  58557    158   4016
      79   21     77   4096   97280  58387      0   4390
      73   27     75   4096  174080  57603    159   4060
      66   34    140    512 1048064 262645      0  35908
      84   16    120    512  437248  36369      0   4262
      79   21     72   4096   97280  58368      0   4104
      75   25     74   2560   97280  57489      2   4152

    Listing 11. Analyzing the Workload

    The following items are shown in the output:

    1. %RAN is the percentage of events of a random nature.
    2. %SEQ is the percentage of events of a sequential nature.
    3. COUNT is the number of I/O events.
    4. MIN is the minimum I/O event size.
    5. MAX is the maximum I/O event size.
    6. AVG is the average I/O event size.
    7. KR is the total kilobytes read during the sample.
    8. KW is the total kilobytes written during the sample.

    You can see from the script output that the I/O workload is mainly random writes (%RAN and KW).


In this article, we saw how we can leverage Oracle Solaris Zones, and the ZFS, DTrace, and Service Management Facility technologies of Oracle Solaris to build, observe, and manage a MongoDB database cluster.

See Also

Also see these additional publications by this author:

And here are additional Oracle Solaris 11 resources:

About the Author

Orgad Kimchi is a principle software engineer on the ISV Engineering team at Oracle (formerly Sun Microsystems). For 5 years he has specialized in virtualization and cloud computing technologies.

Revision 1.1, 07/18/2013