Chapter 2. Getting to Grips with ZooKeeper

The previous chapter discussed the requirements of distributed applications at a high level and argued that they often have common requirements for coordination. We used the master–worker example, which is representative of a broad class of practical applications, to extract a few of the commonly used primitives we described there. We are now ready to present ZooKeeper, a service that enables the implementation of such primitives for coordination.

ZooKeeper Basics

Several primitives used for coordination are commonly shared across many applications. Consequently, one way of designing a service used for coordination is to come up with a list of primitives, expose calls to create instances of each primitive, and manipulate these instances directly. For example, we could say that distributed locks constitute an important primitive and expose calls to create, acquire, and release locks.

Such a design, however, suffers from a couple of important shortcomings. First, we need to either come up with an exhaustive list of primitives used beforehand, or keep extending the API to introduce new primitives. Second, it does not give flexibility to the application using the service to implement primitives in the way that is most suitable for it.

We consequently have taken a different path with ZooKeeper. ZooKeeper does not expose primitives directly. Instead, it exposes a file system-like API comprised of a small set of calls that enables applications ...

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