Sunday, December 31, 2017

Optimistic and Pessimistic Consistency Control

The replication protocols described previously can all be considered pessimistic with regard to consistency of data in the presence of network partitions. Until a partitioned network is reconnected, it is impossible for nodes on one side of the partition to differentiate between being partitioned and a failure of the nodes on the other side of the partition. As has been described in previous sections, this can have an adverse affect on replicated groups which have also been partitioned, unless some method is provided to ensure that update operations can only be performed consistently on the entire group. Typically, these replication protocols are used in conjunction with atomic actions, and in the event of a network partition either only one partition (in the case of Voting) or no partition is allowed to continue to progress, meaning that any atomic actions that were executing must be aborted to maintain consistency of state between the partitioned replicas. They are pessimistic, using the principle that, if it is not possible to tell definitely that replicas have failed then it is better to do nothing at all. Those protocols which can operate correctly in the presence of a network partition (still maintain consistency of replicas), such as Voting, typically impose an overhead on the cost of performing operations on replicas (in the Voting protocol, the cost of performing a read operation is increased because a quorum of replicas must be obtained).

An optimistic consistency control scheme like those described in [Davidson84][Abbadi 89] take a different approach and allow actions to continue operating even in the event of a partition. When the partition is eventually resolved it must be possible to detect any conflicts that have arisen as a result of the original failure and to be able to resolve them. These protocols assume that it is possible for committed actions to be rolled back (i.e., un—committed). How the detection and resolution of conflicts is performed is system specific e.g., in some systems it must be done manually, whereas in [Davidson 84] a mechanism is described that will allow the system to automate much of the work. 

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