Command execution reliability

Mark Paluch edited this page Sep 17, 2018 · 5 revisions

Lettuce is a thread-safe and scalable Redis client that allows multiple independent connections to Redis.


lettuce provides two levels of consistency; these are the rules for Redis command sends:

Depending on the chosen consistency level:

  • at-most-once execution, i. e. no guaranteed execution

  • at-least-once execution, i. e. guaranteed execution (with some exceptions)


  • command ordering in the order of invocations

What does at-most-once mean?

When it comes to describing the semantics of an execution mechanism, there are three basic categories:

  • at-most-once execution means that for each command handed to the mechanism, that command is execution zero or one time; in more casual terms it means that commands may be lost.

  • at-least-once execution means that for each command handed to the mechanism potentially multiple attempts are made at execution it, such that at least one succeeds; again, in more casual terms this means that commands may be duplicated but not lost.

  • exactly-once execution means that for each command handed to the mechanism exactly one execution is made; the command can neither be lost nor duplicated.

The first one is the cheapest - the highest performance, least implementation overhead - because it can be done without tracking whether the command was sent or got lost within the transport mechanism. The second one requires retries to counter transport losses, which means keeping the state at the sending end and having an acknowledgment mechanism at the receiving end. The third is most expensive—and has consequently worst performance—because also to the second it requires a state to be kept at the receiving end to filter out duplicate executions.

Why No Guaranteed Delivery?

At the core of the problem lies the question what exactly this guarantee shall mean:

  1. The command is sent out on the network?

  2. The command is received by the other host?

  3. The command is processed by Redis?

  4. The command response is sent by the other host?

  5. The command response is received by the network?

  6. The command response is processed successfully?

Each one of these have different challenges and costs, and it is obvious that there are conditions under which any command sending library would be unable to comply. Think for example about how a network partition would affect point three, or even what it would mean to decide upon the “successfully” part of point six.

The only meaningful way for a client to know whether an interaction was successful is by receiving a business-level acknowledgment command, which is not something lettuce could make up on its own.

lettuce allows two levels of consistency; each one has its costs and benefits, and therefore it does not try to lie and emulate a leaky abstraction.

Message Ordering

The rule more specifically is that commands sent are not be executed out-of-order.

The following illustrates the guarantee:

  • Thread T1 sends commands C1, C2, C3 to Redis

  • Thread T2 sends commands C4, C5, C6 to Redis

This means that:

  • If C1 is executed, it must be executed before C2 and C3.

  • If C2 is executed, it must be executed before C3.

  • If C4 is executed, it must be executed before C5 and C6.

  • If C5 is executed, it must be executed before C6.

  • Redis executes commands from T1 interleaved with commands from T2.

  • If there is no guaranteed delivery, any of the commands may be dropped, i.e. not arrive at Redis.

Failures and at-least-once execution

lettuce’s at-least-once execution is scoped to the lifecycle of a logical connection. Redis commands are not persisted to be executed after a JVM or client restart. All Redis command state is held in memory. A retry mechanism re-executes commands that are not successfully completed if a network failure occurs. In more casual terms, when Redis is available again, the retry mechanism fires all queued commands. Commands that are issued as long as the failure persists are buffered.

at-least-once execution ensures a higher consistency level than at-most-once but comes with some caveats:

  • Commands can be executed more than once

  • Higher usage of resources since commands are buffered and sent again after reconnect

Exceptions to at-least-once

lettuce does not loose commands while sending them. A command execution can, however, fail for the same reasons as a normal method call can on the JVM:

  • StackOverflowError

  • OutOfMemoryError

  • other Errors

Also, executions can fail in specific ways:

  • The command runs into a timeout

  • The command cannot be encoded

  • The command cannot be decoded, because:

  • The output is not compatible with the command output

  • Exceptions occur while command decoding/processing. This may happen a StreamingChannel results in an error, or a consumer of Pub/Sub events fails while listener notification.

While the first is clearly a matter of configuration, the second deserves some thought: The command execution does not get feedback if there was a timeout. This is in general not distinguishable from a lost message. By using the Sync API, commands that exceeded their timeout are canceled. This behavior cannot be changed. When using the Async API, users can decide, how to proceed with the command, whether the command should be canceled.

Commands which run into Exceptions while encoding or decoding reach a non-recoverable state. Commands that cannot be encoded are not executed but get canceled. Commands that cannot be decoded were already executed; only the result is not available. These errors are caused mostly due to a wrong implementation. The result of a command, which cannot be decoded is that the command gets canceled, and the causing Exception is available in the result. The command is cleared from the response queue, and the connection stays useable.

In general, when Errors occur while operating on a connection, you should close the connection and use a new one. Connections, that experienced such severe failures get into a unrecoverable state, and no further response processing is possible.

Executing commands more than once

In terms of consistency, Redis commands can be grouped into two categories:

  • Idempotent commands

  • Non-idempotent commands

Idempotent commands are commands that lead to the same state if they are executed more than once. Read commands are a good example for idempotency since they do not change the state of data. Another set of idempotent commands are commands that write a whole data structure/entry at once such as SET, DEL or CLIENT SETNAME. Those commands change the data to the desired state. Subsequent executions of the same command leave the data in the same state.

Non-idempotent commands change the state with every execution. This means, if you execute a command twice, each resulting state is different in comparison to the previous. Examples for non-idempotent Redis commands are such as LPUSH, PUBLISH or INCR.

Note: When using master-replica replication, different rules apply to at-least-once consistency. Replication between Redis nodes works asynchronously. A command can be processed successfully from lettuce’s client perspective, but the result is not necessarily replicated to the replica yet. If a failover occurs at that moment, a replica takes over, and the not yet replicated data is lost. Replication behavior is Redis-specific. Further documentation about failover and consistency from Redis perspective is available within the Redis docs:

Switching between at-least-once and at-most-once operations

lettuce’s consistency levels are bound to retries on reconnects and the connection state. By default, lettuce operates in the at-least-once mode. Auto-reconnect is enabled and as soon as the connection is re-established, queued commands are re-sent for execution. While a connection failure persists, issued commands are buffered.

To change into at-most-once consistency level, disable auto-reconnect mode. Connections cannot be longer reconnected and thus no retries are issued. Not successfully commands are canceled. New commands are rejected.

Clustered operations

lettuce sticks in clustered operations to the same rules as for standalone operations but with one exception:

Command execution on master nodes, which is rejected by a MOVED response are tried to re-execute with the appropriate connection. MOVED errors occur on master nodes when a slot’s responsibility is moved from one cluster node to another node. Afterwards at-least-once and at-most-once rules apply.

When the cluster topology changes, generally spoken, the cluster slots or master/replica state is reconfigured, following rules apply:

  • at-most-once If the connection is disconnected, queued commands are canceled and buffered commands, which were not sent, are executed by using the new cluster view

  • at-least-once If the connection is disconnected, queued and buffered commands, which were not sent, are executed by using the new cluster view

  • If the connection is not disconnected, queued commands are finished and buffered commands, which were not sent, are executed by using the new cluster view

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