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Redlock Defined

Redlock is a distributed lock manager that allows multiple processes across multiple servers to coordinate access to a shared resource in a distributed environment. It uses a consensus algorithm to ensure that only one process can hold the lock at any given time, and that the lock can be released even in the presence of network failures or process crashes. Redlock is commonly used in distributed systems such as databases, cache systems, and message queues to prevent concurrent access to shared resources that may result in data corruption or inconsistent results.

Redlock Best Practices

In a system, sometimes you must lock a resource. This might be to make critical modifications that cannot be resolved in any concurrent way. The goals for locks are:

Redis is a good option locking since has a simple key-based data model, each shard is single-threaded, and is quite quick. There is a well-established, canonical implementations of locking using Redis called Redlock.

Redlock clients are available in almost every used language, so it is not relevant to re-invent that wheel. It is important to understand, however, how Redlock works to be able to use it safely and effectively.

First, it’s important to understand that Redlock is designed to be operated over a minimum of 3 machines with independent Redis instances. This avoids any single-point of failure in your locking mechanism (which would be a deadlock on all resources!). The other point to understand is that, while the clocks do not need to be 100% synchronized, the clocks do need to function in the same way – e.g. time moves at precisely the same pace – 1 second on machine A is the same as 1 second on machine B.

Setting a lock with Redlock starts with getting time timestamp to millisecond precision, you also must have a predetermined lock time. Then the lock is placed by SETing a key with a random value (only if the key doesn’t already exist) and also putting a timeout on the key. This is repeated for every independent instance in series. If an instance is down, then move on immediately. If the lock is successfully set in a majority of the instances before the given timeout, then lock is acquired. If it was not acquired in time then no lock is achieved. The lock time to operate on or renew the lock is the amount of time required to achieve the lock minus the total predetermined lock time. In the case of a failure or timeout, unlock all the instances and try again.

To release the lock, a Lua script is employed to check if the key set has the expected random value. If it does then you can delete the key, if not then leave it alone as it might be a newer lock.

Redlock process provides good guarantees and no single point of failure, so you can be highly confident that single locks will be doled out and that no deadlocks will occur.

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