Fast key-value stores: An idea whose time has come and gone

Atul Adya
Henry Qin
Robert Grandl
HotOS XVII(2019) (to appear)


Remote, in-memory key-value (RInK) stores such as Memcached and Redis are widely used in industry and are an active area of academic research. Coupled with stateless application servers to execute business logic and a database-like system to provide persistent storage, they form a core component of popular data center service architectures. We argue that the time of the RInK store has come and gone: their domain-independent APIs (e.g., PUT/GET) push complexity back to the application, leading to extra (un)marshalling overheads and network hops. Instead, data center services should be built using stateful application servers or custom in-memory stores with domain-specific APIs, which offer higher performance than RInKs at lower cost. Such designs have been avoided because they are challenging to implement without appropriate infrastructure support. Given recent advances in auto-sharding we argue it is time to revisit these decisions. In this paper, we evaluate the potential performance improvements of stateful designs, propose a new abstraction, the linked, in-memory key-value (LInK) store, to enable developers to easily implement stateful services, and discuss areas for future research. Slides from our HotOS talk are available here.