Synchronous replication vs asynchronous replication

Evidian SafeKit

Data loss or not on application failover?

There is a significant difference between synchronous replication vs asynchronous replication. According the choice, you may have data loss on application failover.

Synchronous replication as implemented by the SafeKit software is essential for failover of transactional applications. With synchronous replication, all committed data on the disk of the primary server are on the disk of the secondary server. With asynchronous replication, committed data on the disk of the primary server can be lost in case of failure because not copied to the secondary server. There is also an alternative solution named semi-synchronous replication, with committed data on the secondary server but not necessary on its disk.

To help you to take the right decision if you have to choose between synchronous replication vs asynchronous replication, we explain now the technical mechanisms and the impact on application failover.

Synchronous replication

With synchronous replication as implemented by the SafeKit software, when a disk IO is performed by the application or by the file system cache on the primary server, SafeKit waits for the IO acknowledgement from the local disk and from the secondary server, before sending the IO acknowledgement to the application or to the file system cache. This mechanism is essential for failover of transactional applications when they commit their transactions.

Asynchronous replication

With asynchronous replication implemented by most solutions, the IOs are placed in a queue on the primary server but the primary server does not wait for the IO acknowledgments of the secondary server. So, all data that did not have time to be copied across the network on the secondary server is lost if the primary server fails. In particular, a transactional application loses committed transactions in case of failure.

Semi-synchronous replication

With semi-synchronous replication, SafeKit always waits for the acknowledgement of the two servers before sending the acknowledgement to the application or the file system cache. But in the semi-synchronous case, the secondary sends the acknowledgement to the primary upon receipt of the IO and writes to disk after. In the synchronous case, the secondary writes the IO to disk and then sends the acknowledgement to the primary.

Conclusion

With asynchronous replication, there is data loss on failure. Even with the semi-synchronous replication, there is data loss in the special case of a simultaneous double power outage of both servers, with inability to restart on the former primary server and the requirement to re-start on the secondary server. So be very careful when choosing synchronous replication vs asynchronous replication. Always prefer a synchronous or a semi-synchronous replication for a critical application.

Video: Synchronous replication vs asynchronous replication >

Other differentatiors to consider when choosing a high availability cluster with synchronous or asynchonous replication

SafeKit Modules for Plug&Play High Availability Solutions

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SafeKit Webinar

This webinar presents in 10 minutes Evidian SafeKit.

In this webinar, you will understand:

  • mirror and farm clusters
  • cost savings against hardware clustering solutions
  • best use cases
  • the integration process for a new application

Microsoft SQL Server Cluster

This video shows a mirror module configuration with synchronous real-time replication and failover.

The file replication and the failover are configured for Microsoft SQL Server but it works in the same manner for other databases.

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Apache Cluster

This video shows a farm module configuration with load balancing and failover.

The load balancing and the failover are configured for Apache but it works in the same manner for other web services.

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Hyper-V Cluster

This video shows a Hyper-V cluster with full replications of virtual machines.

Virtual machines can run on both Hyper-V servers and they are restarted in case of failure.

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