Meet Redis in the Clouds – Azure PaaS Introduces Premium Public Preview with Cluster and Persistence

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Azure Redis Cache is a distributed, managed cache that helps you build highly scalable and responsive applications by providing faster access to your data. I blogged quite a lot previously on Redis and its features here – https://gennadny.wordpress.com/category/redis/ and on Azure Redis PaaS offering here – https://gennadny.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/forecast-cloudy-using-microsoft-azure-redis-cache/.

The new Premium tier includes all Standard-tier features, plus better performance, bigger workloads, disaster recovery, and enhanced security. Additional features include Redis persistence, which allows you to persist data stored in Redis; Redis Cluster, which automatically shards data across multiple Redis nodes, so you can create workloads using increased memory (more than 53 GB) for better performance; and Azure Virtual Network deployment, which provides enhanced security and isolation for your Azure Redis Cache, as well as subnets, access control policies, and other features to help you further restrict access.

To me a huge disappointment for Redis on Windows (MsOpenTech Redis) and Azure has been inability to scale out across nodes and news of Azure Redis Cluster are particularly welcome.

Redis Cluster provides a way to run a Redis installation where data is automatically sharded across multiple Redis nodes.

Redis Cluster also provides some degree of availability during partitions, that is in practical terms the ability to continue the operations when some nodes fail or are not able to communicate. However the cluster stops to operate in the event of larger failures (for example when the majority of masters are unavailable).

So in practical terms, what you get with Redis Cluster?

  • The ability to automatically split your dataset among multiple nodes
  • The ability to continue operations when a subset of the nodes are experiencing failures or are unable to communicate with the rest of the cluster.

Redis Cluster does not use consistent hashing, but a different form of sharding where every key is conceptually part of what they call an hash slot. Every node in a Redis Cluster is responsible for a subset of the hash slots, so for example you may have a cluster with 3 nodes, where:

  • Node A contains hash slots from 0 to 5500.
  • Node B contains hash slots from 5501 to 11000.
  • Node C contains hash slots from 11001 to 16384.

This allows to add and remove nodes in the cluster easily. For example if I want to add a new node D, I need to move some hash slot from nodes A, B, C to D. Similarly if I want to remove node A from the cluster I can just move the hash slots served by A to B and C. When the node A will be empty I can remove it from the cluster completely. Because moving hash slots from a node to another does not require to stop operations, adding and removing nodes, or changing the percentage of hash slots hold by nodes, does not require any downtime.

Note of caution.

Redis Cluster is not able to guarantee strong consistency. In practical terms this means that under certain conditions it is possible that Redis Cluster will lose writes that were acknowledged by the system to the client.

The first reason why Redis Cluster can lose writes is because it uses asynchronous replication. This means that during writes the following happens:

  • Your client writes to the master A.
  • The master A replies OK to your client
  • The master A propagates the write to its slaves A1, A2 and A3.

As you can see A does not wait for an acknowledge from A1, A2, A3 before replying to the client, since this would be a prohibitive latency penalty for Redis, so if your client writes something, A acknowledges the write, but crashes before being able to send the write to its slaves, one of the slaves (that did not received the write) can be promoted to master, losing the write forever.\

Still this is really exciting news for many of us in Azure NoSQL and Distributed In-Memory Cache world. So I logged into new Azure Portal and yes, creating new Redis Cache I saw a Premium option:

redispremium

As you create your Redis Premium you can specify number of cluster nodes\shards as well, as well as persistence model for the first time!

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Few minutes and I have myself a working 3 node cluster:

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Now I can access this cluster just like I accessed single Redis instance previously.

My next steps are dig into Azure Redis Cluster deeper so stay tuned for updates.

Announcement from Azure Redis PG – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-redis-cache-public-preview-of-premium-tier/

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