Group communication is deployed in many evolving Internet-scale cooperative applications such as multiplayer online games and virtual worlds to efficiently support interaction on information relevant to a potentially very large number of users or objects. Especially peer-to-peer based group communication protocols have evolved as a promising approach to allow intercommunication between many distributed peers. Yet, the delivery semantics of robust and scalable protocols such as gossiping is not sufficient to support consistency semantics beyond eventual consistency because no relationship on the order of events is enforced. On the other hand, traditional consistency models provided by reliable group communication providing causal or even total order are restricted to support only small groups.
This article proposes the cluster consistency model which bridges the gap between traditional and current approaches in supporting both scalability and ordered event delivery. We introduce a dynamic and fault tolerant cluster management method that can coordinate concurrent access to resources in a peer-to-peer system and can be used to establish fault-tolerant configurable cluster consistency with predictable reliability, running on top of decentralised probabilistic protocols supporting scalable group communication. This is achieved by a general two-layered architecture that can be applied on top of the standard Internet communication layers and offers a modular, layered set of services to the applications that need them. Further, we present a fault-tolerant method implementing causal cluster consistency with predictable reliability, running on top of decentralised probabilistic protocols supporting group communication.
This paper provides analytical and experimental evaluation of the properties regarding the fault tolerance of the approach. Furthermore, our experimental study, conducted by implementing and evaluating the two-layered architecture on top of standard Internet transport services, shows that the approach scales well, imposes an even load on the system, and provides high-probability reliability guarantees. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.