Optimistic Causal Consistency for Geo-Replicated Key-Value Stores
Kristina Spirovska, Diego Didona and Willy Zwaenepoel

In this paper we present a new approach to implementing causal consistency in geo-replicated data stores, which we call Optimistic Causal Consistency (OCC). The optimism in our approach lies in that updates from a remote data center are immediately made visible in the local data center, without checking if their causal dependencies have been received. Servers perform the dependency check needed to enforce causal consistency only upon serving a client operation, rather than on the receipt of a replicated data item as in existing systems. OCC explores a novel trade-off in the landscape of causal consistency protocols. The potentially blocking behavior of OCC makes it vulnerable to network partitions. Because network partitions are rare in practice, however, OCC chooses to trade availability to maximize data freshness and reduce the communication overhead. We further propose a recovery mechanism that allows an OCC system to fall back on a pessimistic protocol to continue operating even during network partitions. POCC is an implementation of OCC based on physical clocks. We show that OCC improves data freshness, while offering comparable or better performance than its pessimistic counterpart.