jm + cap + zookeeper   4

Please stop calling databases CP or AP
In his excellent blog post [...] Jeff Hodges recommends that you use the CAP theorem to critique systems. A lot of people have taken that advice to heart, describing their systems as “CP” (consistent but not available under network partitions), “AP” (available but not consistent under network partitions), or sometimes “CA” (meaning “I still haven’t read Coda’s post from almost 5 years ago”).

I agree with all of Jeff’s other points, but with regard to the CAP theorem, I must disagree. The CAP theorem is too simplistic and too widely misunderstood to be of much use for characterizing systems. Therefore I ask that we retire all references to the CAP theorem, stop talking about the CAP theorem, and put the poor thing to rest. Instead, we should use more precise terminology to reason about our trade-offs.
cap  databases  storage  distcomp  ca  ap  cp  zookeeper  consistency  reliability  networking 
may 2015 by jm
Why You Shouldn’t Use ZooKeeper for Service Discovery
In CAP terms, ZooKeeper is CP, meaning that it’s consistent in the face of partitions, not available. For many things that ZooKeeper does, this is a necessary trade-off. Since ZooKeeper is first and foremost a coordination service, having an eventually consistent design (being AP) would be a horrible design decision. Its core consensus algorithm, Zab, is therefore all about consistency. For coordination, that’s great. But for service discovery it’s better to have information that may contain falsehoods than to have no information at all. It is much better to know what servers were available for a given service five minutes ago than to have no idea what things looked like due to a transient network partition. The guarantees that ZooKeeper makes for coordination are the wrong ones for service discovery, and it hurts you to have them.

Yes! I've been saying this for months -- good to see others concurring.
architecture  zookeeper  eureka  outages  network-partitions  service-discovery  cap  partitions 
december 2014 by jm
Zookeeper: not so great as a highly-available service registry
Turns out ZK isn't a good choice as a service discovery system, if you want to be able to use that service discovery system while partitioned from the rest of the ZK cluster:
I went into one of the instances and quickly did an iptables DROP on all packets coming from the other two instances.  This would simulate an availability zone continuing to function, but that zone losing network connectivity to the other availability zones.  What I saw was that the two other instances noticed the first server “going away”, but they continued to function as they still saw a majority (66%).  More interestingly the first instance noticed the other two servers “going away”, dropping the ensemble availability to 33%.  This caused the first server to stop serving requests to clients (not only writes, but also reads).

So: within that offline AZ, service discovery *reads* (as well as writes) stopped working due to a lack of ZK quorum. This is quite a feasible outage scenario for EC2, by the way, since (at least when I was working there) the network links between AZs, and the links with the external internet, were not 100% overlapping.

In other words, if you want a highly-available service discovery system in the fact of network partitions, you want an AP service discovery system, rather than a CP one -- and ZK is a CP system.

Another risk, noted on the Netflix Eureka mailing list at :

ZooKeeper, while tolerant against single node failures, doesn't react well to long partitioning events. For us, it's vastly more important that we maintain an available registry than a necessarily consistent registry. If us-east-1d sees 23 nodes, and us-east-1c sees 22 nodes for a little bit, that's OK with us.

I guess this means that a long partition can trigger SESSION_EXPIRED state, resulting in ZK client libraries requiring a restart/reconnect to fix. I'm not entirely clear what happens to the ZK cluster itself in this scenario though.

Finally, Pinterest ran into other issues relying on ZK for service discovery and registration, described at ; sounds like this was mainly around load and the "thundering herd" overload problem. Their workaround was to decouple ZK availability from their services' availability, by building a Smartstack-style sidecar daemon on each host which tracked/cached ZK data.
zookeeper  service-discovery  ops  ha  cap  ap  cp  service-registry  availability  ec2  aws  network  partitions  eureka  smartstack  pinterest 
november 2014 by jm
ZooKeeper Resilience at Pinterest
essentially decoupling the client services from ZK using a local daemon on each client host; very similar to Airbnb's Smartstack. This is a bit of an indictment of ZK's usability though
ops  architecture  clustering  network  partitions  cap  reliability  smartstack  airbnb  pinterest  zookeeper 
march 2014 by jm

Copy this bookmark: