What is Consus?

Consus is a geo-replicated transactional key-value store that upholds strong consistency and fault tolerance guarantees across multiple data centers. By geo-replicating data, Consus can can withstand correlated failures up to and including entire data centers, and reduce latency for clients by directing them to nearby replicas.

The latency between geographically distinct locations forces storage systems to navigate the inherent tradeoff between latency and fault tolerance. Systems may make an operation withstand a complete data center failure by incurring the latency cost to propagate it to other data centers before reporting that the operation has finished. On the other side of the tradeoff systems, may avoid the latency cost by reporting that an operation is complete before it propagates to other data centers---at the risk that the operation is lost in a failure and never takes effect in other data centers. In essence, the tradeoff is entirely a matter of minimizing latency while upholding desirable degree of fault tolerance. Consus chooses to maintain fault tolerance at all times.

What makes Consus unique?

For systems that make cross-data center fault tolerance guarantees, wide-area latency is often the dominating cost. An operation's overall execution time is heavily dependent upon the number of messages sent via the wide area and the latency of each message; consequently, reducing the number of messages on the critical path is an important aspect of optimizing the overall performance of geo-replicated systems.

Consus can commit a transaction across multiple data centers in three wide-area message delays during regular execution. Simply sending a message to a remote data center and receiving acknowledgement of its receipt---the bare minimum necessary to tolerate a data center failure---requires two message delays. Protocols such as 2-phase commit or Paxos require two round trips, or four message delays.

Who is behind Consus?

Consus is under active development in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University. It is developed by Robert Escriva under the advisement of Robbert van Renesse.

How can I get Consus?

Consus is available on GitHub. There is an accompanying tech report available on arxiv.