Using Paxos to Build a Scalable, Consistent, and Highly Available Datastore

Spinnaker is an experimental datastore that is designed to run on a large cluster of commodity servers in a single data center. It features key-based range partitioning, 3-way replication, and a transactional get-put API with the option to choose either strong or timeline consistency on reads. This paper describes Spinnaker’s Paxos-based replication protocol. The use of Paxos ensures that a data partition in Spinnaker will be available for reads and writes as long a majority of its replicas are alive. Unlike traditional master-slave replication, this is true regardless of the failure sequence that occurs. We show that Paxos replication can be competitive with alternatives that provide weaker consistency guarantees. Compared to an eventually consistent datastore, we show that Spinnaker can be as fast or even faster on reads and only 5% to 10% slower on writes.