1 Introduction

The Raft protocol is a consensus algorithm designed for managing replicated logs in distributed systems. It ensures that a cluster of servers agree on the same state by maintaining a replicated log that can be used to recover from failures or inconsistencies.

Consensus algorithms like Raft are essential in distributed systems where multiple servers need to work together to maintain data consistency and availability. Raft was developed as an alternative to the widely used Paxos algorithm, with the goal of being easier to understand and implement.

The Raft protocol achieves consensus by electing a leader among the servers in the cluster. The leader is responsible for accepting client requests, replicating the log entries to other servers, and committing the entries once a majority of servers have acknowledged them. This approach provides fault tolerance, as the system can continue to function even if some servers fail or become unreachable.

2 Key Component

The key components of the Raft protocol are:

  • Leader Election: Servers in the cluster periodically attempt to become the leader. If a server hasn’t heard from a leader in a certain time period, it starts a new election. The election process involves exchanging messages and comparing term numbers to determine the leader. Once a candidate receives votes from a majority of servers, it becomes the leader.
  • Log Replication: The leader receives client requests and appends them to its log. It then replicates the log entries to other servers, which will apply them to their own logs once received. The leader maintains a next-index and match-index for each follower to keep track of their progress in the log replication process.
  • Log Commitment: Once a log entry has been replicated to a majority of servers, the leader can consider it committed. It then informs the followers about the committed entries, and they apply those entries to their state machines. This ensures that all servers in the cluster eventually reach the same state.
  • Safety: The Raft protocol ensures safety by maintaining a strict set of rules for leader election and log replication. It guarantees that a leader will have the most up-to-date log entries, and no two leaders will exist simultaneously.

The Raft protocol’s simplicity and understandability make it a popular choice for building fault-tolerant systems. It provides clear leadership and replication mechanisms, making it easier to reason about the system’s behavior and implement it correctly.

Note that while this overview provides a high-level understanding of the Raft protocol, there are additional details and optimizations that can be explored for a more comprehensive understanding of the algorithm.

3 Raft vs. Paxos

Raft and Paxos are both consensus algorithms designed for achieving agreement among a group of distributed nodes. While they share the same goal, there are several differences between Raft and Paxos, including their approach to leadership, ease of understanding, and fault tolerance. Here are some key differences:

  1. Leadership Approach:
    • Raft: In Raft, a leader is elected among the nodes, and this leader coordinates the replication of log entries to other nodes. The leader handles client requests and acts as the central point of control.
    • Paxos: In Paxos, there is no distinguished leader. Instead, the nodes collaborate to achieve consensus by exchanging messages and reaching agreement collectively.
  2. Ease of Understanding:
    • Raft: One of the primary motivations behind Raft’s design was to make it easier to understand compared to Paxos. Raft uses a more intuitive and comprehensible approach, employing clear leader election and log replication mechanisms.
    • Paxos: Paxos is known for its complexity, and its original description can be challenging to grasp. It requires a deep understanding of distributed systems and often requires multiple rounds of explanations to fully comprehend.
  3. Fault Tolerance:
    • Raft: Raft provides a fault-tolerant mechanism through leader election and log replication. If the leader fails, a new leader is elected, ensuring continuity of operations. Raft requires a majority of nodes (a quorum) to agree on log entries for them to be committed.
    • Paxos: Paxos also offers fault tolerance by allowing nodes to reach consensus even if some nodes fail or become unresponsive. It uses a two-phase commit process to ensure safety and availability.
  4. Readability and Read-Only Queries:
    • Raft: Raft allows read-only queries to be handled by followers without involving the leader, reducing the load on the leader and improving scalability. Clients can directly query followers for non-state-changing operations.
    • Paxos: In Paxos, all queries and updates must go through the consensus protocol, involving the leader and followers in every operation.
  5. Implementation Complexity:
    • Raft: Raft was designed with simplicity in mind, aiming for an understandable algorithm that can be implemented more easily compared to Paxos. The clarity of Raft’s specification has led to the development of various open-source implementations.
    • Paxos: Paxos is considered more intricate to implement correctly due to its complex message exchange patterns and the absence of a designated leader.
      It’s important to note that both Raft and Paxos have their strengths and trade-offs, and the choice between them depends on the specific requirements and constraints of the distributed system being developed.

4 参考