Don't Settle for Eventual: Scalable Causal Consistency for Wide-Area Storage with COPS

Proc. 23rd ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP), Oct 2011.

Wyatt Lloyd*, Michael J. Freedman*, Michael Kaminsky**, David G. Andersen

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

*Princeton University
**Intel Labs


Geo-replicated, distributed data stores that support complex online applications, such as social networks, must provide an "always on" experience where operations always complete with low latency. Today's systems often sacrifice strong consistency to achieve these goals, exposing inconsistencies to their clients and necessitating complex application logic. In this paper, we identify and define a consistency model—causal consistency with convergent conflict handling, or causal+—that is the strongest achieved under these constraints.

We present the design and implementation of COPS, a key-value store that delivers this consistency model across the wide-area. A key contribution of COPS is its scalability, which can enforce causal dependencies between keys stored across an entire cluster, rather than a single server like previous systems. The central approach in COPS is tracking and explicitly checking whether causal dependencies between keys are satisfied in the local cluster before exposing writes. Further, in COPS-GT, we introduce get transactions in order to obtain a consistent view of multiple keys without locking or blocking. Our evaluation shows that COPS completes operations in less than a millisecond, provides throughput similar to previous systems when using one server per cluster, and scales well as we increase the number of servers in each cluster. It also shows that COPS-GT provides similar latency, throughput, and scaling to COPS for common workloads.





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