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Communications of the ACM


Online Event Processing

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For almost half a century, ACID transactions (satisfying the properties of atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) have been the abstraction of choice for ensuring consistency in data-storage systems. The well-known atomicity property ensures that either all or none of a transaction's writes take effect in the case of a failure; isolation prevents interference from concurrently running transactions; and durability ensures that writes made by committed transactions are not lost in the case of a failure.

While transactions work well within the scope of a single database product, transactions that span several different data-storage products from distinct vendors have been problematic: many storage systems do not support them, and those that do often perform poorly. Today, large-scale applications are often implemented by combining several distinct data-storage technologies that are optimized for different access patterns. Distributed transactions have failed to gain adoption in most such settings, and most large-scale applications instead rely on ad hoc, unreliable approaches for maintaining the consistency of their data systems.


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