Chapter 9. Ownership Election

The previous patterns that we have seen have been about distributing requests in order to scale requests per second, the state being served, or the time to process a request. This final chapter on multi-node serving patterns is about how you scale assignment. In many different systems, there is a notion of ownership where a specific process owns a specific task. We have previously seen this in the context of sharded and hot-sharded systems where specific instances owned specific sections of the sharded key space.

In the context of a single server, ownership is generally straightforward to achieve because there is only a single application that is establishing ownership, and it can use well-established in-process locks to ensure that only a single actor owns a particular shard or context. However, restricting ownership to a single application limits scalability, since the task can’t be replicated, and reliability, since if the task fails, it is unavailable for a period of time. Consequently, when ownership is required in your system, you need to develop a distributed system for establishing ownership.

A general diagram of distributed ownership is shown in Figure 9-1. In the diagram, there are three replicas that could be the owner or master. Initially, the first replica is the master. Then that replica fails, and replica number three then becomes the master. Finally, replica number one recovers and returns to the group, but replica three remains as ...

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