[erlang-questions] is there an elephant in the room? mnesia network partition

Ulf Wiger ulf@REDACTED
Mon Nov 3 01:04:49 CET 2008

>From what I could tell from googling, Oracle does the same thing as NDB does,
forcing one or more of the participants to reboot if split-brain is detected.
In order to do this, you need to set things up so that you have at least three
participants. In general, I'd say that the Oracle setups for high availability
are far more complex than many of the applications using mnesia in the
first place. The steps needed to do something like with mnesia aren't
that difficult, and have been explained on the erlang-questions list.


But I think that part of the problem (?) is that many users of mnesia start
out building something really simple, and only start thinking about network
partitioning when it first hits them (at least that's been the case several
times in the past.) So if mnesia is going to address the problem, it can't
assume that the user is going to spend a fortune on hardware clusters,
geographic redundancy, load balancers and dynamic DNS. Indeed, the
third participant which is usually required in order to resolve the situation
often isn't there in mnesia's case. The AXD 301, for example, had only
two master control processors, so the solutions used by NDB and Oracle
(as I understand them) wouldn't have been feasible without major redesign.

I think it should be possible to write a small add-on to mnesia that covers
most of the scary issues. Most of the needed knowledge is available on the
web already. Someone just needs to take the time to do it.

Ulf W

2008/11/2 Eli Liang <eliliang@REDACTED>:
> Oracle deals with it very transparently starting with 10g via the Oracle
> Configuration Repository (OCR), and its Cluster Ready Services Daemon
> (CRSD). In particular, the Oracle Cluster Synchronization Service Daemon
> (OCSSD) sorts out any data corruption and gets data back into sync when the
> nodes are back in communications. All 3 of these services work together to
> handle automated healing after a network split. No administrator input is
> required.
> --- On Sun, 11/2/08, Ulf Wiger <ulf@REDACTED> wrote:
> From: Ulf Wiger <ulf@REDACTED>
> Subject: Re: [erlang-questions] is there an elephant in the room? mnesia
> network partition
> To: "Joel Reymont" <joelr1@REDACTED>
> Cc: "Erlang Questions" <erlang-questions@REDACTED>
> Date: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 2:55 PM
> AFAIK, no general algorithm exists for self-healing after network
> splits. MySQL Cluster (NDB) e.g. solves it by requiring at least
> 3 copies of the data, and one arbitrator. In the case of a network
> split, you may continue if you can speak to the arbitrator; otherwise
> you're shut down.
> Mnesia provides the tools for resolving the situation, and one way
> to protect yourself from accidental inconsistencies is to use
> net_kernel dist_auto_connect_once, and keep a back door between
> the nodes (this has been discussed several times on this list.)
> Once you've determined that you have a split network, and which
> copies you want to continue with, you can restart the other nodes,
> possibly using mnesia:set_master_nodes/1 to make absolutely
> sure that they load their data from the right nodes.
> Setting this up is not terribly difficult. Interfacing to another DBMS
> is likely to be much more work, and you'd have to make really sure
> that they have a better strategy for coping with network splits than
> mnesia - I'm not at all sure that they do (but I'm willing to repent in
> the face of hard evidence).
> The lack of automatic handling of network splits has been mentioned
> a number of times as an argument against mnesia, but I really don't
> recall hearing much about how other DBMSs deal with it. There seems
> to be an assumption that since there isn't much discussion about
> network splits for other DBMSs, they must simply solve it transparently.
> I think this is a dangerous conclusion.
> BR,
> Ulf W
> 2008/11/2 Joel Reymont <joelr1@REDACTED>:
>> I'm looking to launch a poker 'social network', the first and
> only one
>> where you can actually play poker. I'm hesitant to go full-way with
>> Mnesia, though, and wonder how others are handling this.
>> I googled and poked around but there seems to be an elephant in the
>> room and no one is talking about it. The elephant is that Mnesia does
>> not self-heal after network splits.
>> Could it be that this is a solved problem or has anyone avoided it
>> because their data model does not require self-healing? How do big
>> projects deal with it? Ericsson?
>> I would like to run a few Mnesia nodes for high availability but it
>> positively don't want my databases to diverge and I don't want to
> deal
>> with reconciling the databases later.
>> Strictly speaking, I could keep mnesia as a transient data store and
>> keep my master database in a non-Erlang database. I just thought I'd
>> poll the community regardless.
>>        Thanks, Joel
>> --
>> wagerlabs.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> erlang-questions mailing list
>> erlang-questions@REDACTED
>> http://www.erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
> _______________________________________________
> erlang-questions mailing list
> erlang-questions@REDACTED
> http://www.erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
> _______________________________________________
> erlang-questions mailing list
> erlang-questions@REDACTED
> http://www.erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions

More information about the erlang-questions mailing list