Amazon Redshift is a data warehouse that can expand to exabyte-scale. Today, tens of thousands of AWS customers (including NTT DOCOMO, Finra, and Johnson & Johnson) use Amazon Redshift to run mission-critical business intelligence dashboards, analyze real-time streaming data, and run predictive analytics jobs.
Amazon Redshift powers analytical workloads for Fortune 500 companies, startups, and everything in between. With the constant increase in generated data, Amazon Redshift customers continue to achieve successes in delivering better service to their end-users, improving their products, and running an efficient and effective business. Availability, therefore, is key in continuing to drive customer success, and AWS will use commercially reasonable efforts to make Amazon Redshift available with a Monthly Uptime Percentage for each multi-node cluster, during any monthly billing cycle, of at least 99.9% (our “Service Commitment”).
In this post, we present a solution to help you provide a predictable and repeatable experience to your Amazon Redshift end-users by taking control of recurring Amazon Redshift maintenance windows.
Amazon Redshift maintenance windows
Amazon Redshift periodically performs maintenance to apply fixes, enhancements, and new features to your cluster. This type of maintenance occurs during a 30-minute maintenance window set by default per Region from an 8-hour block on a random day of the week. You should change the scheduled maintenance window according to your business needs by modifying the cluster, either programmatically or by using the Amazon Redshift console. The window must be at least 30 minutes and not longer than 24 hours. For more information, see Managing clusters using the console.
If a maintenance event is scheduled for a given week, it starts during the assigned 30-minute maintenance window. While Amazon Redshift performs maintenance, it terminates any queries or other operations that are in progress. If there are no maintenance tasks to perform during the scheduled maintenance window, your cluster continues to operate normally until the next scheduled maintenance window. Amazon Redshift uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) to send notifications of Amazon Redshift events. You enable notifications by creating an Amazon Redshift event subscription. You can create an Amazon Redshift event notification subscription so you can be notified when an event occurs for a given cluster.
When an Amazon Redshift cluster is scheduled for maintenance, you receive an Amazon Redshift “Pending” event, as described in the following table.
|Amazon Redshift category||Event ID||Event severity||Description|
|Pending||REDSHIFT-EVENT-2025||INFO||Your database for cluster <cluster name> will be updated between <start time> and <end time>. Your cluster will not be accessible. Plan accordingly.|
|Pending||REDSHIFT-EVENT-2026||INFO||Your cluster <cluster name> will be updated between <start time> and <end time>. Your cluster will not be accessible. Plan accordingly.|
Amazon Redshift also gives you the option to reschedule your cluster’s maintenance window by deferring your upcoming maintenance by up to 45 days. This option is particularly helpful if you want to maximize your cluster uptime by deferring a future maintenance window. For example, if your cluster’s maintenance window is set to Wednesday 8:30–9:00 UTC and you need to have nonstop access to your cluster for the next 2 weeks, you can defer maintenance to a date 2 weeks from now. We don’t perform any maintenance on your cluster when you have specified a deferment.
Deferring a maintenance window doesn’t apply to mandatory Amazon Redshift updates, such as vital security patches. Scheduled maintenance is different from Amazon Redshift mandatory maintenance. If Amazon Redshift needs to update hardware or make other mandatory updates during your period of deferment, we notify you and make the required changes. Your cluster isn’t available during these updates and such maintenance can’t be deferred. If a hardware replacement is required, you receive an event notification through the AWS Management Console and your SNS subscription as a “Pending” item, as shown in the following table.
|Amazon Redshift category||Event ID||Event severity||Description|
|Pending||REDSHIFT-EVENT-3601||INFO||A node on your cluster <cluster name> will be replaced between <start time> and <end time>. You can’t defer this maintenance. Plan accordingly.|
|Pending||REDSHIFT-EVENT-3602||INFO||A node on your cluster <cluster name> is scheduled to be replaced between <start time> and <end time>. Your cluster will not be accessible. Plan accordingly.|
As the number of the Amazon Redshift clusters you manage for an analytics application grows, the end-user experience becomes highly dependent on recurring maintenance. This means that you want to make sure maintenance windows across all clusters happen at the same time and fall on the same day each month. You want to avoid a situation in which, for example, your five Amazon Redshift clusters are each updated on a different day or week. Ultimately, you want to give your Amazon Redshift end-users an uninterrupted number of days where the clusters aren’t subject to any scheduled maintenance. This gives you the opportunity to announce a scheduled maintenance to your users well ahead of the maintenance date.
Amazon Redshift clusters are scheduled for maintenance depending on several factors, including when a cluster was created and its Region. For example, you may have two clusters on the same Amazon Redshift version that are scheduled for different maintenance windows. Regions implement the Amazon Redshift latest versions and patches at different times. A cluster running in
us-east-1 might be scheduled for the same maintenance 1 week before another cluster in
eu-west-1. This makes it harder for you to provide your end-users with a predictable maintenance schedule.
To solve this issue, you typically need to frequently check and synchronize the maintenance windows across all your clusters to a specific time, for example
sat:06:00-sat:06:30. Additionally, you want to avoid having your clusters scheduled for maintenance at different intervals. For that, you need to defer maintenance across all your clusters to fall on the same exact day. For example, you can defer all maintenance across all clusters to happen 1 month from now regardless of when the cluster was last updated. This way you know that your clusters aren’t scheduled for maintenance for the next 30 days. This gives you enough time to announce the maintenance schedule to your Amazon Redshift users.
Having one day per month when Amazon Redshift scheduled maintenance occurs across all your clusters provides your users with a seamless experience. It gives you control and predictability over when clusters aren’t available. You can announce this maintenance window ahead of time to avoid sudden interruptions.
The following solution deploys an AWS Lambda function (
RedshiftMaintenanceSynchronizer) to your AWS account. The function runs on a schedule configurable through an AWS CloudFormation template parameter frequency to run every 6, 12, or 24 hours. This function synchronizes maintenance schedules across all your Amazon Redshift clusters to happen at the same time on the same day. It also gives you the option to defer all future maintenance windows across all clusters by a number of days (deferment days) for up to 45 days. This enables you to provide your users with an uninterrupted number of days when your clusters aren’t subject to maintenance.
We use the following input parameters:
- Deferment days – The number of days to defer all future scheduled maintenance windows. Amazon Redshift can defer maintenance windows by up to 45 days. The solution adds this number to the date of the last successfully completed maintenance across any of your clusters. The resulting date is the new maintenance date for all your clusters.
- Frequency – The frequency to run this solution. You can configure it to run every 6, 12, or 24 hours.
- Day – The preferred day of the week to schedule maintenance windows.
- Hour – The preferred hour of the day to schedule maintenance windows (24-hour format).
- Minute – The preferred minute of the hour to schedule maintenance windows.
The Lambda function performs the following steps:
- Lists all your Amazon Redshift clusters in the Region.
- Updates the maintenance window for all clusters to the same value of the day/hour/minute input parameters from the CloudFormation template.
- Checks for the last successfully completed maintenance across all clusters.
- Calculates the deferment maintenance date by adding the deferment input parameter to the date of the last successfully completed maintenance. For example, if the deferment parameter is 30 days and the last successful maintenance window completed on July 1, 2020, then the next deferment maintenance date is July 31, 2020.
- Defers the next maintenance window across all clusters to the deferment date calculated in the previous step.
Launch the solution
To get started, deploy the cloudFormation template to your AWS account.
- For Stack name, enter a name for your stack for easy reference.
- For Day, choose the day of week for the maintenance window to occur.
- For Hour, choose the hour for the window to start.
- For Minute, choose the minute within the hour for the window to start.
Your window should be a time with the least cluster activity and during off-peak work hours.
- For Deferment Days, choose the number of days to defer all future scheduled maintenance windows.
- For Solution Run Frequency, choose the frequency of 6, 12, or 24 hours.
After the template has successfully deployed, the following resources are available:
- The RedshiftMaintenanceSync Lambda function. This is a Python 3.8 Lambda function that syncs and defers the maintenance windows across all your Amazon Redshift clusters.
- The RedshiftMaintenanceSyncEventRule Amazon CloudWatch event rule. This rule triggers on a schedule based on the Frequency input parameter. It triggers the RedshiftMaintenanceSync Lambda function to run the solution logic.
When the Lambda function starts and detects an already available deferment on any of your clusters, it doesn’t attempt to modify the existing deferment, and exits instead.
The solution logs any deferment it performs on any cluster in the associated CloudWatch log group.
Synchronize and defer maintenance windows
To demonstrate this solution, I have two Amazon Redshift clusters with different preferred maintenance windows and scheduled intervals.
Cluster A (see the following screenshot) has a preferred maintenance window set to Friday at 4:30–5:00 PM. It’s scheduled for maintenance in 2 days.
Cluster B has a preferred maintenance window set to Tuesday at 9:45–10:15 AM. It’s scheduled for maintenance in 6 days.
This means that my Amazon Redshift users have a 30-minute interruption twice in the next 2 and 6 days. Also, these interruptions happen at completely different times.
Let’s launch the solution and see how the cluster maintenance windows and scheduling intervals change.
The Lambda function does the following every time it runs:
- Lists all the clusters.
- Checks if any of the clusters have a deferment enabled and exits if it finds any.
- Syncs all preferred maintenance windows across all clusters to fall on the same time and day of week.
- Checks for the latest successfully completed maintenance date.
- Adds the deferment days to the last maintenance date. This becomes the new deferment date.
- Applies the new deferment date to all clusters.
Cluster A’s maintenance window was synced to the input parameters I passed to the CloudFormation template. Additionally, the next maintenance window was deferred until June 21, 2021, 8:06 AM (UTC +02:00).
Cluster B’s maintenance window is also synced to the same value from Cluster A, and the next maintenance window was deferred to the same exact day as Cluster A: June 21, 2021, 8:06 AM (UTC +02:00).
Finally, let’s check the CloudWatch log group to understand what the solution did.
Now both clusters have the same maintenance window and next scheduled maintenance, which is a month from now. In a production scenario, this gives you enough lead time to announce the maintenance window to your Amazon Redshift end-users and provide them with the exact day and time when clusters aren’t available.
This solution can help you provide a predictable and repeatable experience to your Amazon Redshift end-users by taking control of recurring Amazon Redshift maintenance windows. It enables you to provide your users with an uninterrupted number of days where clusters are always available—barring any scheduled mandatory upgrades. Click here to get started with Amazon Redshift today.
About the Author
Ahmed Gamaleldin is a Senior Technical Account Manager (TAM) at Amazon Web Services. Ahmed helps customers run optimized workloads on AWS and make the best out of their cloud journey.