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Transaction remake in Infinispan 5.1

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Transaction remake in Infinispan 5.1

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If you ever used Infinispan in a transactional way you might be very interested in this article as it describes some very significant improvements in version 5.1 "Brahma" (released with 5.1.Beta1):

  • starting with this release an Infinispan cache can accessed either transactionally or non-transactionally. The mixed access mode is no longer supported (backward compatibility still maintained, see below). There are several reasons for going this path, but one of them most important result of this decision is a cleaner semantic on how concurrency is managed between multiple requestors for the same cache entry.

  • starting with 5.1 the supported transaction models are optimistic and pessimistic. Optimistic model is an improvement over the existing default transaction model by completely deferring lock acquisition to transaction prepare time. That reduces lock acquisition duration and increases throughput; also avoids deadlocks. With pessimistic model, cluster wide-locks are being acquired on each write and only being released after the transaction completed (see below).

Transactional or non transactional cache?

It's up to you as an user to decide weather you want to define a cache as transactional or not. By default, infinispan caches are non transactional. A cache can be made transactional by changing the transactionMode attribute:
<namedCache name="transactional">
  <transaction transactionMode="TRANSACTIONAL"/>

transactionMode can only take two values: TRANSACTIONAL and NON_TRANSACTIONAL. Same thing can be also achieved programatically:

Configuration c = new Configuration();
assert c.isTransactionalCache();

Important:for transactional caches it is required to configure a TransactionManagerLookup.

Backward compatibility

The autoCommit attribute was added in order to assure backward compatibility. If a cache is transactional and autoCommit is enabled (defaults to true) then any call that is performed outside of a transaction's scope is transparently wrapped within a transaction. In other words Infinispan adds the logic for starting a transaction before the call and committing it after the call.

So if your code accesses a cache both transactionally and non-transactionally, all you have to do when migrating to Infinispan 5.1 is mark the cache as transactional and enable autoCommit (that's actually enabled by default, so just don't disable it :)

The autoCommit feature can be managed through configuration:
<namedCache name="transactional">;
  <transaction transactionMode="TRANSACTIONAL" autoCommit="true"/>

or programatically:

Configuration c = new Configuration();
assert c.isTransactionAutoCommit();


Optimistic Transactions

With optimistic transactions locks are being acquired at transaction prepare time and are only being held up to the point the transaction commits (or rollbacks). This is different from the 5.0 default locking model where local locks are being acquire on writes and cluster locks are being acquired during prepare time.

Optimistic transactions can be enabled in the configuration file:

<namedCache name="transactional">
  <transaction transactionMode="TRANSACTIONAL" lockingMode="OPTIMISTIC"/>

 or programatically:

Configuration c = new Configuration();
assert c.getTransactionLockingMode() == LockingMode.OPTIMISTIC;

By default, a transactional cache is optimistic.

Pessimistic Transactions

From a lock acquisition perspective, pessimistic transactions obtain locks on keys at the time the key is written. E.g.
cache.put(k1,v1); //k1 is locked
cache.remove(k2); //k2 is locked when this returns

When cache.put(k1,v1) returns k1 is locked and no other transaction running anywhere in the cluster can write to it. Reading k1 is still possible. The lock on k1 is released when the transaction completes (commits or rollbacks).

Pessimistic transactions can be enabled in the configuration file:

<namedCache name="transactional"/>
  <transaction transactionMode="TRANSACTIONAL" lockingMode="PESSIMISTIC"/>

or programatically:

Configuration c = new Configuration();
c.fluent().transaction().lockingMode(LockingMode. PESSIMISTIC);
assert c.getTransactionLockingMode() == LockingMode. PESSIMISTIC;



What do I need - pessimistic or optimistic transactions?

From a use case perspective, optimistic transactions should be used when there's not a lot of contention between multiple transactions running at the same time. That is because the optimistic transactions rollback if data has changed between the time it was read and the time it was committed ( writeSkewCheck).

On the other hand, pessimistic transactions might be a better fit when there is high contention on the keys and transaction rollbacks are less desirable. Pessimistic transactions are more costly by their nature: each write operation potentially involves a RPC for lock acquisition.

The path ahead

This major transaction rework has opened the way for several other transaction related improvements:

  • Single node locking model is a major step forward in avoiding deadlocks and increasing throughput by only acquiring locks on a single node in the cluster, disregarding the number of redundant copies (numOwners) on which data is replicated

  • Lock acquisition reordering is a deadlock avoidance technique that will be used for optimistic transactions

  • Incremental locking is another technique for minimising deadlocks.

From http://infinispan.blogspot.com/2011/10/transaction-remake-in-infinispan-51.html

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