June 18, 2015

Leader Election Using NewSQL Database Systems

HopsFS' leader election protocol that uses NDB as a backend. DAIS 2015: 158-172.


Salman Niazi, Mahmoud Ismail, Gautier Berthou, Jim Dowling.
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Leader election protocols are a fundamental building block for replicated distributed services. They ease the design of leader-based coordination protocols that tolerate failures. In partially synchronous systems, designing a leader election algorithm, that does not permit multiple leaders while the system is unstable, is a complex task. As a result many production systems use third-party distributed coordination services, such as ZooKeeper and Chubby, to provide a reliable leader election service. However, adding a third-party service such as ZooKeeper to a distributed system incurs additional operational costs and complexity. ZooKeeper instances must be kept running on at least three machines to ensure its high availability. In this paper, we present a novel leader election protocol using NewSQL databases for partially synchronous systems, that ensures at most one leader at any given time. The leader election protocol uses the database as distributed shared memory. Our work enables distributed systems that already use NewSQL databases to save the operational overhead of managing an additional third-party service for leader election. Our main contribution is the design, implementation and validation of a practical leader election algorithm, based on NewSQL databases, that has performance comparable to a leader election implementation using a state-of-the-art distributed coordination service, ZooKeeper.
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