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Section: New Results

Commitment protocols for WAN replication

Participants : Marc Shapiro [correspondent] , Pierre Sutra, Masoud Saeida Ardekani.

In a large-scale distributed system, replication is an essential technique for improving availability and read performance. However, writes raise the issue of consistency, especially in the presence of concurrent updates, network failures, and hardware or software crashes. So-called consensus constitutes a major primitive to solving these issues. The performance of large-scale systems depends crucially on the latency of consensus, especially in wide-area networks; to decrease it, we focus on generalised consensus algorithms, i.e., ones that leverage the commutativity of operations and/or the spontaneous ordering of messages by the network. One such algorithms is Generalized Paxos, which does not order concurrent commutative operations. However, when a collision occurs (i.e., two replicas receive non-commuting operations in a different order) Generalized Paxos requires a very high latency to recover, completely negating the gain. We designed FGGC, a new generalised consensus algorithm that minimises the cost of recovering from a collision, without decreasing resilience to faults. FGGC achieves the optimal latency (two communication steps when processes receive non-commutative operations in the same order, and three otherwise) when there are no faults. FGGC remains optimally fault-tolerant, as it tolerates f<n/2 crash faults and requires only f+1 processes to make progress. Our experimental evaluation of FGGC shows that it is more efficient than the competing protocols. Another topic of relevance in WANs is partial replication, i.e., where any given server holds only a fraction of all shared objects. This decreases the workload per server and improves access times. However, this makes transactional concurrency control more difficult; indeed most existing algorithms assume full replication. We designed and implemented two genuine consensus protocols for partial replication, i.e., ones in which only relevant replicas need participate in the commit of a transaction. They were evaluated experimentally above the BerkeleyDB database engine. This work is the topic of Pierre Sutra's PhD thesis.