[erlang-questions] leader election ?

Jachym Holecek freza@REDACTED
Fri Oct 19 11:01:12 CEST 2018

Hi Thomas,

# Thomas Elsgaard 2018-10-19:
> I am running 2 instances of an application ( seperate datacenters), both
> receives indentical data on TCP sockets, but only one of the applications
> should process it further downstream.

What does "process it further downstream" entail? Is persitent state being
updated on the "primary" node? Are further "downstream" services involved
and if so can they participate in your scheme? Do you control the nodes
originating the data feeds? What are the worst-case consequences of
processing the feed at both nodes for some period of time? What are the
consequences of not processing the feed at all for some period of time?

> Any suggestions to what is the "simplest" way to have a kind of leader
> election ? Both applications must be running, but must have knowledge about
> their own role (active or passive) in order to decide if the data should be
> processed downstream.

>From memory [*] solves this problem although I forgot the exact details of

Depending on further details it might be that running periodic helthchecks
between the two nodes and basing primary/standby roles on current liveness
plus static priority suffices in practice (despite the obvious fragility).

Or perhaps downstream nodes can advertise their perception of liveness of
the two nodes to them and these then decide based on that.

It may be that "primary/standby" isn't actually a property of those two
nodes globally and that the decision is made for disjoint fragments of
the objects involved depending on network conditions and downstream service

It may be that the two processing nodes know whether they're currently
eligible or not (depending on downstream service connectivity and liveness)
and it may be that the data feed originator is best placed to instruct
the processing nodes to act as primary / standby at the moment, depending
on advertised eligibility.

It's really hard to give a general answer. :-)

> It just seems a little "heavy" to use consul or etcd to elect an leader
> between two application instances.

What if etcd tells you you're primary but whoops you don't have connection
to etcd because somebody was playing with a firewall and cut you off for
a few hours? Absent further details it is unclear whether involving an
external arbiter even helps at all.

	-- Jachym

[*] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Powell9/publication/3832120_PADRE_a_Protocol_for_Asymmetric_Duplex_REdundancy/links/0912f50d062f67bcba000000/PADRE-a-Protocol-for-Asymmetric-Duplex-REdundancy.pdf

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