Apache Cassandra™ 1.2

Data replication

Cassandra stores replicas on multiple nodes to ensure reliability and fault tolerance. A replication strategy determines the nodes where replicas are placed.

The total number of replicas across the cluster is referred to as the replication factor. A replication factor of 1 means that there is only one copy of each row on one node. A replication factor of 2 means two copies of each row, where each copy is on a different node. All replicas are equally important; there is no primary or master replica. As a general rule, the replication factor should not exceed the number of nodes in the cluster. However, you can increase the replication factor and then add the desired number of nodes later. When replication factor exceeds the number of nodes, writes are rejected, but reads are served as long as the desired consistency level can be met.

Two replication strategies are available:

  • SimpleStrategy: Use for a single data center only. If you ever intend more than one data center, use the NetworkTopologyStrategy.
  • NetworkTopologyStrategy: Highly recommended for most deployments because it is much easier to expand to multiple data centers when required by future expansion.
Use only for a single data center. SimpleStrategy places the first replica on a node determined by the partitioner. Additional replicas are placed on the next nodes clockwise in the ring without considering topology (rack or data center location).
Use NetworkTopologyStrategy when you have (or plan to have) your cluster deployed across multiple data centers. This strategy specifies how many replicas you want in each data center.

NetworkTopologyStrategy places replicas in the same data center by walking the ring clockwise until reaching the first node in another rack. NetworkTopologyStrategy attempts to place replicas on distinct racks because nodes in the same rack (or similar physical grouping) often fail at the same time due to power, cooling, or network issues.

When deciding how many replicas to configure in each data center, the two primary considerations are (1) being able to satisfy reads locally, without incurring cross data-center latency, and (2) failure scenarios. The two most common ways to configure multiple data center clusters are:

  • Two replicas in each data center: This configuration tolerates the failure of a single node per replication group and still allows local reads at a consistency level of ONE.
  • Three replicas in each data center: This configuration tolerates either the failure of a one node per replication group at a strong consistency level of LOCAL_QUORUM or multiple node failures per data center using consistency level ONE.

Asymmetrical replication groupings are also possible. For example, you can have three replicas per data center to serve real-time application requests and use a single replica for running analytics.