PDL Abstract

Group Communication: Helping or Obscuring Failure Diagnosis?

Carnegie Mellon University Parallel Data Lab Technical Report CMU-PDL-06-107, June, 2006.

Soila Pertet, Rajeev Gandhi and Priya Narasimhan

Parallel Data Laboratory
School of Computer Science & Electrical and Computer Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Replicated client-server systems are often based on underlying group communication protocols that provide totally ordered, reliable delivery of messages. However, in the face of a performance fault (e.g, memory leak, packet loss) at a single node, group communication protocols can cause correlated performance degradations at non-faulty nodes. We explore the impact of performance-degradation faults on token-ring and quorum-based group communication protocols in replicated systems. By empirically evaluating these protocols, in the presence of a variety of injected faults, we investigate which metrics are the most/least appropriate for failure diagnosis. We show that group communication protocols can both help and obscure root-cause analysis, and present an approach for fingerpointing the faulty node by monitoring OS-level and protocol-level metrics. Our empirical evaluation suggests that the root-cause of the failure is either the node exhibiting the most anomalies in a given window of time or the node with an "odd-man-out" behavior, e.g., if a node displays a surge in context-switch rate while the other nodes display a dip in the same metric.

KEYWORDS: Problem diagnosis, Fingerpointing, Group communication