Concise Server-Wide Causality Management for Eventually Consistent Data Stores

Almeida PS, Moreno CB, Fonte V, Gonçalves R.  2015.  Concise Server-Wide Causality Management for Eventually Consistent Data Stores. DAIS - IFIP International Conference on Distributed Applications and Interoperable Systems.

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Large scale distributed data stores rely on optimistic replication to scale and remain highly available in the face of network partitions. Managing data without coordination results in eventually consistent data stores that allow for concurrent data updates. These systems often use anti-entropy mechanisms (like Merkle Trees) to detect and repair divergent data versions across nodes. However, in practice hash-based data structures are too expensive for large amounts of data and create too many false conflicts. Another aspect of eventual consistency is detecting write conflicts. Logical clocks are often used to track data causality, necessary to detect causally concurrent writes on the same key. However, there is a nonnegligible metadata overhead per key, which also keeps growing with time, proportional with the node churn rate. Another challenge is deleting keys while respecting causality: while the values can be deleted, perkey metadata cannot be permanently removed without coordination. We introduce a new causality management framework for eventually consistent data stores, that leverages node logical clocks (Bitmapped Version Vectors) and a new key logical clock (Dotted Causal Container) to provides advantages on multiple fronts: 1) a new efficient and lightweight anti-entropy mechanism; 2) greatly reduced per-key causality metadata size; 3) accurate key deletes without permanent metadata.

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