TitleDisciplined Inconsistency with Consistency Types
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHolt B, Bornholt J, Zhang I, Ports DRK, Oskin M, Ceze L
Conference NameSOCC
Date or Month PublishedOctober
Conference LocationSanta Clara, CA, USA

Distributed applications and web services, such as online stores or social networks, are expected to be scalable, available, responsive, and fault-tolerant. To meet these steep requirements in the face of high round-trip latencies, network partitions, server failures, and load spikes, applications use eventually consistent datastores that allow them to weaken the consistency of some data. However, making this transition is highly error-prone because relaxed consistency models are notoriously difficult to understand and test. In this work, we propose a new programming model for distributed data that makes consistency properties explicit and uses a type system to enforce consistency safety. With the Inconsistent, Performance-bound, Approximate (IPA) storage system, programmers specify performance targets and correctness requirements as constraints on persistent data structures and handle uncertainty about the result of datastore reads using new consistency types. We implement a prototype of this model in Scala on top of an existing datastore, Cassandra, and use it to make performance/correctness tradeoffs in two applications: a ticket sales service and a Twitter clone. Our evaluation shows that IPA prevents consistency-based programming errors and adapts consistency automatically in response to changing network conditions, performing comparably to weak consistency and 2-10x faster than strong consistency.

Citation Keyholt16:_discip_incon_consis_types