On the Fault-tolerance and High Performance of Replicated Transactional Systems

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Virginia Tech

With the recent technological developments in last few decades, there is a notable shift in the way business/consumer transactions are conducted. These transactions are usually triggered over the internet and transactional systems working in the background ensure that these transactions are processed. The majority of these transactions nowadays fall in Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) category, where low latency is preferred characteristic. In addition to low latency, OLTP transaction systems also require high service continuity and dependability.

Replication is a common technique that makes the services dependable and therefore helps in providing reliability, availability and fault-tolerance. Deferred Update Replication (DUR) and Deferred Execution Replication (DER) represent the two well known transaction execution models for replicated transactional systems. Under DUR, a transaction is executed locally at one node before a global certification is invoked to resolve conflicts against other transactions running on remote nodes. On the other hand, DER postpones the transaction execution until the agreement on a common order of transaction requests is reached. Both DUR and DER require a distributed ordering layer, which ensures a total order of transactions even in case of faults.

In today's distributed transactional systems, performance is of paramount importance. Any loss in performance, e.g., increased latency due to slow processing of client requests, may entail loss of revenue for businesses. On one hand, the DUR model is a good candidate for transaction processing in those systems in case the conflicts among transactions are rare, while it can be detrimental for high conflict workload profiles. On the other hand, the DER model is an attractive choice because of its ability to behave as independent of the characteristics of the workload, but trivial realizations of the model ultimately do not offer a good performance increase margin. Indeed transactions are executed sequentially and the total order layer can be a serious bottleneck for latency and scalability.

This dissertation proposes novel solutions and system optimizations to enhance the overall performance of replicated transactional systems. The first presented result is HiperTM, a DER-based transaction replication solution that is able to alleviate the costs of the total order layer via speculative execution techniques. HiperTM exploits the time that is between the broadcast of a client request and the finalization of the order for that request to speculatively execute the request, so to achieve an overlapping between replicas coordination and transactions execution. HiperTM proposes two main components: OS-Paxos, a novel total order layer that is able to early deliver requests optimistically according to a tentative order, which is then either confirmed or rejected by a final total order; SCC, a lightweight speculative concurrency control protocol that is able to exploit the optimistic delivery of OS-Paxos and execute transactions in a speculative fashion. SCC still processes write transactions serially in order to minimize the code instrumentation overheads, but it is able to parallelize the execution of read-only transactions thanks to its built-in object multiversion scheme.

The second contribution in this dissertation is X-DUR, a novel transaction replication system that addressed the high cost of local and remote aborts in case of high contention on shared objects in DUR based approaches, due to which the performance is adversely affected. Exploiting the knowledge of client's transaction locality, X-DUR incorporates the benefits of state machine approach to scale-up the distributed performance of DUR systems.

As third contribution, this dissertation proposes Archie, a DER-based replicated transactional system that improves HiperTM in two aspects. First, Archie includes a highly optimized total order layer that combines optimistic-delivery and batching thus allowing the anticipation of a big amount of work before the total order is finalized. Then the concurrency control is able to process transactions speculatively and with a higher degree of parallelism, although the order of the speculative commits still follows the order defined by the optimistic delivery.

Both HiperTM and Archie perform well up to a certain number of nodes in the system, beyond which their performance is impacted by limitations of single leader-based total-order layer. This motivates the design of Caesar, the forth contribution of this dissertation, which is a transactional system based on a novel multi-leader partial order protocol. Caesar enforces a partial order on the execution of transactions according to their conflicts, by letting non-conflicting transactions to proceed in parallel and without enforcing any synchronization during the execution (e.g., no locks).

As the last contribution, this dissertation presents Dexter, a replication framework that exploits the commonly observed phenomenon such that not all read-only workloads require up-to-date data. It harnesses the application specific freshness and content-based constraints of read-only transactions to achieve high scalability. Dexter services the read-only requests according to the freshness guarantees specified by the application and routes the read-only workload accordingly in the system to achieve high performance and low latency. As a result, Dexter framework also alleviates the interference between read-only requests and read-write requests thereby helping to improve the performance of read-write requests execution as well.

Distributed Transaction Memory, Fault-tolerance, Active Replication, Distributed Systems, On-line Transaction Processing