Infoscience

Conference paper

Atum: Scalable Group Communication Using Volatile Groups

This paper presents Atum, a group communication middleware for a large, dynamic, and hostile environment. At the heart of Atum lies the novel concept of volatile groups: small, dynamic groups of nodes, each executing a state machine replication protocol, organized in a flexible overlay. Using volatile groups, Atum scatters faulty nodes evenly among groups, and then masks each individual fault inside its group. To broadcast messages among volatile groups, Atum runs a gossip protocol across the overlay. We report on our synchronous and asynchronous (eventually synchronous) implementations of Atum, as well as on three representative applications that we build on top of it: A publish/subscribe platform, a file sharing service, and a data streaming system. We show that (a) Atum can grow at an exponential rate beyond 1000 nodes and disseminate messages in polylogarithmic time (conveying good scalability); (b) it smoothly copes with 18% of nodes churning every minute; and (c) it is impervious to arbitrary faults, suffering no performance decay despite 5.8% Byzantine nodes in a system of 850 nodes.

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