Paxos Made Switch-y


The Paxos protocol is the foundation for building many fault-tolerant distributed systems and services. This paper posits that there are significant performance benefits to be gained by implementing Paxos logic in network devices. Until recently, the notion of a switch-based implementation of Paxos would be a daydream. However, new flexible hardware is on the horizon that will provide customizable packet processing pipelines needed to implement Paxos. While this new hardware is still not readily available, several vendors and consortia have made the programming languages that target these devices public. This paper describes an implementation of Paxos in one of those languages, P4. Implementing Paxos provides a critical use case for P4, and will help drive the requirements for data plane languages in general. In the long term, we imagine that consensus could someday be offered as a network service, just as point-to-point communication is provided today.

SIGCOMM Comput. Commun. Rev.