Engineering distributed systems is an onerous task: the design goals of performance, correctness and reliability are intertwined in complex tradeoffs, which have been outlined by multiple theoretical results. These tradeoffs have become increasingly important as computing and storage have shifted towards distributed architectures. Additionally, the general lack of systematic approaches to tackle distribution in modern programming tools, has worsened these issues - especially as nowadays most programmers have to take on the challenges of distribution. As a result, there exists an evident divide between programming abstractions, application requirements and storage semantics, which hinders the work of designers and developers. This thesis presents a set of contributions towards the overarching goal of designing reliable distributed storage systems, by examining these issues through the prism of consistency. We begin by providing a uniform, declarative framework to formally define consistency semantics. We use this framework to describe and compare over fifty non-transactional consistency semantics proposed in previous literature. The declarative and composable nature of this framework allows us to build a partial order of consistency models according to their semantic strength. We show the practical benefits of composability by designing and implementing Hybris, a storage system that leverages different models and semantics to improve over the weak consistency generally offered by public cloud storage platforms. We demonstrate Hybris' efficiency and show that it can tolerate arbitrary faults of cloud stores at the cost of tolerating outages. Finally, we propose a novel technique to verify the consistency guarantees offered by real-world storage systems. This technique leverages our declarative approach to consistency: we consider consistency semantics as invariants over graph representations of storage systems executions. A preliminary implementation proves this approach practical and useful in improving over the state-of-the-art on consistency verification.
Consistency in distributed storage systems : Theoretical foundations with applications to Cloud storage
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