Skip to main content
Version: Next

Tune performance

This section describes tuning knobs that have a notable effect on system performance.


Tenzir processes events in batches. Because the structured data has the shape of a table, we call these batches table slices. The following options control their shape and behavior.


Most components in Tenzir operate on table slices, which makes the table slice size a fundamental tuning knob on the spectrum of throughput and latency. Small table slices allow for shorter processing times, resulting in more scheduler context switches and a more balanced workload. But the increased pressure on the scheduler comes at the cost of throughput. Conversely, a large table slice size creates more work for each actor invocation and makes them yield less frequently to the scheduler. As a result, other actors scheduled on the same thread may have to wait a little longer.

The option tenzir.import.batch-size sets an upper bound for the number of events per table slice. It defaults to 65,536.

The option controls the maximum number of events per table slice, but not necessarily the number of events until a component forwards a batch to the next stage in a stream. The CAF streaming framework uses a credit-based flow-control mechanism to determine buffering of tables slices.


Setting tenzir.import.batch-size to 0 causes the table slice size to be unbounded and leaves it to tenzir.import.batch-timeout to produce table slices. This can lead to very large table slices for sources with high data rates, and is not recommended.

Import Timeout

The tenzir.import.batch-timeout option sets a timeout for forwarding buffered table slices to the remote Tenzir node. If the timeout fires before a table slice reaches tenzir.import.batch-size, then the table slice will contain fewer events and ship immediately.

The option determines how long a call to read data from the input will block. After the read timeout elapses, Tenzir tries again at a later. The default value is 10 seconds.

Storage Engine

The central component of Tenzir's storage engine is the catalog. It owns the partitions, keeps metadata about them, and maintains a set of sparse secondary indexes to identify relevant partitions for a given query.

The catalog's secondary indexes are space-efficient sketch data structures (e.g., Bloom filters, min-max summaries) that have a low memory footprint but may yield false positives. Tenzir keeps all sketches in memory.

The amount of memory that the storage engine can consume is not explicitly configurable, but there exist various options that have a direct impact.

Control the partition size

Tenzir groups table slices with the same schema in a partition. There exist mutable active partitions that Tenzir writes to during ingestion, and immutable passive partitions that Tenzir reads from during query execution.

When constructing a partition, the parameter tenzir.max-partition-size (default: 4Mi / 2^22) sets an upper bound on the number of records in a partition, across all table slices. The parameter (default: 10 seconds) provides a time-based upper bound: once reached, Tenzir considers the partition as complete, regardless of the number of records.

The two parameters are decoupled to allow for independent control of throughput and freshness. Tenzir also merges undersized partitions asynchronously in the background, which counter-acts the fragmentation effect from choosing a low partition timeout.

Tune partition caching

Tenzir maintains a LRU cache of partitions to accelerate queries involving recent partitions. The parameter tenzir.max-resident-partitions controls the number of partitions in the LRU cache.


Run tenzir flush to force Tenzir to write all active partitions to disk immediately. The command returns only after all active partitions were flushed to disk.

Tune catalog fragmentation

The catalog keeps state that grows linear in the number of partitions. The configuration option tenzir.max-partition-size determines an upper bound of the number of records per partition, which is inversely linked to the number of partitions. For example, a large value yields fewer partitions whereas a small value creates more partitions.

In other words, increasing tenzir.max-partition-size is an effective method to reduce the memory footprint of the catalog, at the cost of creating larger partitions.

Configure the catalog

You can configure catalog and partition indexes under the key tenzir.index. The configuration tenzir.index.rules is an array of indexing rules, each of which configures the indexing behavior of a set of extractors. A rule has the following keys:

  • targets: a list of extractors to describe the set of fields whose values to add to the sketch.
  • fp-rate: an optional value to control the false-positive rate of the sketch.

Tune catalog index parameters

Catalog indexes may produce false positives that can have a noticeable impact on the query latency by materializing irrelevant partitions. Based on the cost of I/O, this penalty may be substantial. Conversely, reducing the false positive rate increases the memory consumption, leading to a higher resident set size and larger RAM requirements. You can control the false positive probability with the fp-rate key in an index rule.

By default, Tenzir creates one sketch per type, but not additional field-level sketches unless a dedicated rule with a matching target configuration exists. Here is an example configuration that adds extra field-level sketches:

# Set the default false-positive rate for type-level sketches
default-fp-rate: 0.001
- targets:
# field sketches require a fully qualified field name
- suricata.http.http.url
fp-rate: 0.005
- targets:
- :ip
fp-rate: 0.1

This configuration includes two rules (= two catalog indexes) where the first rule includes a field extractor and the second a type extractor. The first rule applies to a single field, suricata.http.http.url, and has false-positive rate of 0.5%. The second rule creates one sketch for all fields of type ip that has a false-positive rate of 10%.

Adjust the store compression

Tenzir compresses partitions using Zstd for partitions at rest. To fine-tune the space-time trade-off, Tenzir offers a setting, tenzir.zstd-compression-level to allow fine-tuning the compression level:

zstd-compression-level: 1

Currently, the default value is taken from Apache Arrow itself.


We have a blog post that does an in-depth comparison of various compression levels and storage formats.

Rebuild partitions

The rebuild command re-ingests events from existing partitions and replaces them with new partitions. This makes it possible to upgrade persistent state to a newer version, or recreate persistent state after changing configuration parameters, e.g., switching from the Feather to the Parquet store backend. The following diagram illustrates this "defragmentation" process:

Rebuilding partitions also recreates their sketches. The process takes place asynchronously in the background. Control this behavior in your tenzir.yaml configuration file, to disable or adjust the resources to spend on automatic rebuilding:

# Automatically rebuild undersized and outdated partitions in the background.
# The given number controls how much resources to spend on it. Set to 0 to
# disable. Defaults to 1.
automatic-rebuild: 1
Upgrade from Tenzir v1.x partitions

You can use the rebuild command to upgrade your Tenzir v1.x partitions to v2.x, which yield better compression and have a streamlined representation. We recommend this to be able to use newer features that do not work with v1.x partitions.

This is how you run it manually:

tenzir-ctl rebuild start [--all] [--undersized] [--parallel=<number>] [--max-partitions=<number>] [--detached] [<expression>]

A rebuild is not only useful when upgrading outdated partitions, but also when changing parameters of up-to-date partitions. (Internally, Tenzir versions the partition state via FlatBuffers. An outdated partition is one whose version number is not the newest.)

The --undersized flag causes Tenzir to rebuild partitions that are under the configured partition size limit tenzir.max-partition-size.

The --all flag causes Tenzir to rebuild all partitions.

The --parallel options is a performance tuning knob. The parallelism level controls how many sets of partitions to rebuild in parallel. This value defaults to 1 to limit the CPU and memory requirements of the rebuilding process, which grow linearly with the selected parallelism level.

The --max-partitions option allows for setting an upper bound to the number of partitions to rebuild.

An optional expression allows for restricting the set of partitions to rebuild. Tenzir performs a catalog lookup with the expression to identify the set of candidate partitions. This process may yield false positives, as with regular queries, which may cause unaffected partitions to undergo a rebuild. For example, to rebuild outdated partitions containing suricata.flow events older than 2 weeks, run the following command:

tenzir-ctl rebuild start '#schema == "suricata.flow" && #import_time < 2 weeks ago'

To stop an ongoing rebuild, use tenzir-ctl rebuild stop.


The Tenzir server writes log files into a file named server.log in the database directory by default. Set the option tenzir.log-file to change the location of the log file.

Tenzir client processes do not write logs by default. Set the option tenzir.client-log-file to enable logging. Note that relative paths are interpreted relative to the current working directory of the client process.

Server log files rotate automatically after 10 MiB. The option tenzir.disable-log-rotation allows for disabling log rotation entirely, and the option tenzir.log-rotation-threshold sets the size limit when a log file should be rotated.

Tenzir processes log messages in a dedicated thread, which by default buffers up to 1M messages for servers, and 100 for clients. The option tenzir.log-queue-size controls this setting.