Quantifying eventual consistency with PBS

Peter Bailis, Shivaram Venkataraman, Michael J. Franklin, Joseph M. Hellerstein, Ion Stoica
2014 Communications of the ACM  
Data replication results in a fundamental trade-off between operation latency and consistency. At the weak end of the spectrum of possible consistency models is eventual consistency, which provides no limit to the staleness of data returned. However, anecdotally, eventual consistency is often "good enough" for practitioners given its latency and availability benefits. In this work, we explain this phenomenon and demonstrate that, despite their weak guarantees, eventually consistent systems
more » ... arly return consistent data while providing lower latency than their strongly consistent counterparts. To quantify the behavior of eventually consistent stores, we introduce Probabilistically Bounded Staleness (PBS), a consistency model that provides expected bounds on data staleness with respect to both versions and wall clock time. We derive a closed-form solution for version-based staleness and model real-time staleness for a large class of quorum replicated, Dynamo-style stores. Using PBS, we measure the trade-off between latency and consistency for partial, non-overlapping quorum systems under Internet production workloads. We quantitatively demonstrate how and why eventually consistent systems frequently return consistent data within tens of milliseconds while offering large latency benefits.
doi:10.1145/2632792 fatcat:zkemja4mbvayxlwyftf47nurba