Aerospike: Architecture of a Real-Time Operational DBMS

WC 413 / RT 2min

Aerospike architecture

Modeled on the classic shared-nothing database architecture

Objectives of the cluster management subsystem:


Node arrival or departure is detected via heartbeat messages exchanged periodically between nodes.

Surrogate heartbeats

In addition to regular heartbeat messages, nodes use other messages that are regularly exchanged between nodes as an alternative secondary heartbeat mechanism.

Node Health Score

Every node in the cluster evaluates the health score of each of its neighboring nodes by computing the average message loss, which is an estimate of how many incoming messages from that node are lost.

Data Distribution

A record’s primary key is hashed into a 160-byte digest using the RipeMD160 algorithm.

Colocated indexes and data to avoid any cross-node traffic when running read operations or queries.

A partition assignment algorithm generates a replication list for every partition. The replication list is a permutation of the cluster succession list.

Reads can also be uniformly spread across all the replicas via a runtime configuration setting.

Master Partition Without Data

An empty node newly added to a running cluster will be master for a proportional fraction of the partitions and have no data for those partitions.

Migration Ordering

Smallest Partition First

Migration is coordinated in such a manner as to let nodes with the fewest records in their partition versions start migration first. This strategy quickly reduces the number of different copies of a specific partition, and does this faster than any other strategy.

Hottest Partition First

At times, client accesses are skewed to a very small number of keys from the key space. Therefore the latency on these accesses could be improved quickly by migrating these hot partitions before other partitions.


Aerospike uses a log-structured file system with a copy-on-write mechanism. Hence, it needs to reclaim space by continuously running a background defragmentation process. Each device stores a MAP of block and information relating to the fill-factor of each block. The fill-factor of the block is the block fraction utilized by valid records. At boot time, this information is loaded and kept up-to-date on every write. When the fill-factor of a block falls below a certain threshold, the block becomes a candidate for defragmentation and is then queued up for the defragmentation process.