Distributed Transactions

Transactions in distributed database / Transaction manager / Transaction coordinator / Commit protocols / 2 Phase commit protocol

Transactions in Distributed Database Management System


In centralized database system, it is mandatory to perform any transaction (ie., accessing any data items) under the satisfaction of ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) properties. The act of preserving the ACID properties for any transaction is mandatory in Distributed Database (distributed transaction) also. In case of distributed transactions, there are two types based on the location of accessed data. The first one, the local transactions involve read, write, or update of data in only one local database. Whereas, the global transactions involve read, write, or update of data in many such local databases.

Distributed database – Transaction system

The transaction system consists of two important components, 1. Transaction manager (which is similar to the transaction manager in centralized database. But, in distributed database we have one for every site), whose main job is to verify the ACID properties of those transactions that execute at that site, 2. Transaction Coordinator, (available for every site in distributed database) to manage and coordinate various transactions (both local and global) initiated at that site.

Transaction System Structure for Distributed Database

Each Transaction Manager is responsible for,
·         Maintaining a log for recovery purpose,
·         Participating in an appropriate concurrency-control scheme (more on this later) to coordinate the concurrent execution of the transactions executing at that site.

Every Transaction Coordinator is responsible for,
·         Starting the execution of every transaction at that site,
·         Breaking the transaction into a number of sub-transactions and distributing these sub-transactions to the appropriate sites for execution (In the diagram, the links from TC1 to TM2, TC1 to TM3, TC1 to TM4 and so on and TC1 to TMn mention the distribution of sub-transactions to the concerned transaction managers),
·         Coordinating the termination of the transaction.

Commit Protocols

As we noted earlier, satisfaction of ACID properties is very well important. At the initial stage, we need to ensure that the transaction is atomic (i.e., either completed as a whole or not). In distributed database, the transaction, say T, which is going on in multiple sites must be committed at all sites to say that the transaction T is successfully completed. If not, the transaction T must be aborted at all the sites. To implement this, we need a commit protocol. The simplest among the commit protocol is the Two-Phase Commit protocol which is widely used.


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