Chapter 8. State Transfer

8.1. State Transfer

State transfer is a basic data grid or clustered cache functionality. Without state transfer, data would be lost as nodes are added to or removed from the cluster.

State transfer adjusts the cache’s internal state in response to a change in a cache membership. The change can be when a node joins or leaves, when two or more cluster partitions merge, or a combination of joins, leaves, and merges. State transfer occurs automatically in Red Hat JBoss Data Grid whenever a node joins or leaves the cluster.

In Red Hat JBoss Data Grid’s replication mode, a new node joining the cache receives the entire cache state from the existing nodes. In distribution mode, the new node receives only a part of the state from the existing nodes, and the existing nodes remove some of their state in order to keep owners copies of each key in the cache (as determined through consistent hashing). In invalidation mode the initial state transfer is similar to replication mode, the only difference being that the nodes are not guaranteed to have the same state. When a node leaves, a replicated mode or invalidation mode cache does not perform any state transfer. A distributed cache needs to make additional copies of the keys that were stored on the leaving nodes, again to keep owners copies of each key.

A State Transfer transfers both in-memory and persistent state by default, but both can be disabled in the configuration. When State Transfer is disabled a ClusterLoader must be configured, otherwise a node will become the owner or backup owner of a key without the data being loaded into its cache. In addition, if State Transfer is disabled in distributed mode then a key will occasionally have less than owners owners.

8.2. Non-Blocking State Transfer

Non-Blocking State Transfer in Red Hat JBoss Data Grid minimizes the time in which a cluster or node is unable to respond due to a state transfer in progress. Non-blocking state transfer is a core architectural improvement with the following goals:

  • Minimize the interval(s) where the entire cluster cannot respond to requests because of a state transfer in progress.
  • Minimize the interval(s) where an existing member stops responding to requests because of a state transfer in progress.
  • Allow state transfer to occur with a drop in the performance of the cluster. However, the drop in the performance during the state transfer does not throw any exception, and allows processes to continue.
  • Allows a GET operation to successfully retrieve a key from another node without returning a null value during a progressive state transfer.

For simplicity, the total order-based commit protocol uses a blocking version of the currently implemented state transfer mechanism. The main differences between the regular state transfer and the total order state transfer are:

  • The blocking protocol queues the transaction delivery during the state transfer.
  • State transfer control messages (such as CacheTopologyControlCommand) are sent according to the total order information.

The total order-based commit protocol works with the assumption that all the transactions are delivered in the same order and they see the same data set. So, no transactions are validated during the state transfer because all the nodes must have the most recent key or values in memory.

Using the state transfer and blocking protocol in this manner allows the state transfer and transaction delivery on all on the nodes to be synchronized. However, transactions that are already involved in a state transfer (sent before the state transfer began and delivered after it concludes) must be resent. When resent, these transactions are treated as new joiners and assigned a new total order value.

8.3. Suppress State Transfer via JMX

State transfer can be suppressed using JMX in order to bring down and relaunch a cluster for maintenance. This operation permits a more efficient cluster shutdown and startup, and removes the risk of Out Of Memory errors when bringing down a grid.

When a new node joins the cluster and rebalancing is suspended, the getCache() call will timeout after stateTransfer.timeout expires unless rebalancing is re-enabled or stateTransfer.awaitInitialTransferis set to false.

Disabling state transfer and rebalancing can be used for partial cluster shutdown or restart, however there is the possibility that data may be lost in a partial cluster shutdown due to state transfer being disabled.

8.4. The rebalancingEnabled Attribute

Suppressing rebalancing can only be triggered via the rebalancingEnabled JMX attribute, and requires no specific configuration.

The rebalancingEnabled attribute can be modified for the entire cluster from the LocalTopologyManager JMX Mbean on any node. This attribute is true by default, and is configurable programmatically.

Servers such as Hot Rod attempt to start all caches declared in the configuration during startup. If rebalancing is disabled, the cache will fail to start. Therefore, it is mandatory to use the following setting in a server environment:

<state-transfer enabled="true" await-initial-transfer="false"/>