Basser Seminar Series

Granola: Low-Overhead Distributed Transaction Coordination

Speaker: Dr James Cowling

Time: Friday 29 June 2012, 4:00-5:00pm
Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, Lecture Theatre (Room 123), Level 1
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Online storage systems are being used at increasingly large scale, and need to meet the demands of applications with increasingly diverse requirements. Large-scale distributed storage systems typically involve a tradeoff between strong semantics and high performance, however, with many platforms opting to provide weaker consistency models. These systems provide high performance and high availability, but place the burden of consistency on the application developer or end user, who has to reason about weak consistency models.

We present Granola, a transaction coordination infrastructure for building reliable distributed storage applications. Granola provides a strong consistency model, while significantly reducing transaction coordination overhead. Granola supports general atomic operations, enabling it to be used as a platform on which to build various storage systems, e.g., databases or object stores.

We introduce specific support for independent transactions, a new type of distributed transaction, that we can serialize with no locking overhead and no aborts due to write conflicts. Granola uses a novel timestamp-based coordination mechanism to serialize distributed transactions, offering lower latency and higher throughput than previous systems that offer strong consistency."

If there's time I can also talk about some of my other previous work, but I'll focus on my latest stuff on distributed transaction coordination.

Speaker's biography

James recently completed his PhD in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, focusing on distributed transaction coordination. He previously received his Masters degree at MIT, with a focus on Byzantine fault tolerance. James completed his honors degree in Computer Science at The University of Sydney, where he was the recipient of the University Medal, the Convocation Medal, and a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct further study in the United States. James' academic interests include large-scale distributed systems, storage technologies, fault-tolerance, membership management and consensus protocols.