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Database Administration
Protecting Your Data : Distributed Transaction Processing : Two-phase commit with ABL clients : How the database engine implements two-phase commit
How the database engine implements two-phase commit
To implement two-phase commit, the database engine assigns a coordinator database and a transaction number for each distributed transaction. The coordinator database establishes the transaction's status (either committed or terminated). The transaction number identifies individual transactions. The transaction number for a distributed transaction is the transaction number assigned to the coordinator database. The database engine stores the name of the coordinator database and the transaction number in the before-image (BI) file of each database involved in the distributed transaction.
The coordinator database establishes the status of the transaction by committing or terminating the transaction. The action that the coordinator database takes is final and irreversible. If the coordinator database commits a transaction, the status of the transaction is committed, even if other databases do not commit the transaction. (This can happen because of a hardware or software failure.) Likewise, if the coordinator terminates a transaction, the status of the transaction is aborted. All of the other databases involved in the transaction must perform the same action as the coordinator database, or your data will be inconsistent.
The following figure shows the algorithm that the database engine uses to implement two-phase commit. Because this algorithm requires additional unbuffered I/O operations to ensure transaction integrity, there might be a performance impact when you implement two-phase commit. If two-phase commit is enabled, transactions that do not involve multiple databases do not incur additional I/O for those transactions.
Figure 26. Two-phase commit algorithm
As the figure above shows, the coordinator database is the first database in the distributed transaction to either commit or abort the transaction. By keeping track of the coordinator's action, two-phase commit allows you to resolve any inconsistent transactions.
A limbo transaction (also known as an in-doubt transaction) occurs if the coordinator database commits or aborts a distributed transaction, but a hardware or software failure prevents other databases from doing likewise. This is called a limbo transaction because the processing of the transaction is temporarily suspended. A limbo transaction might occur for a variety of reasons; for example, as a result of a power outage. The following figure illustrates a limbo transaction.
Figure 27. Limbo transaction
When a limbo transaction occurs, you must resolve the transaction to re-establish data consistency.
Once the coordinator database establishes the status of a distributed transaction, it writes the status to its BI and TL (transaction log) files. The TL file tracks the status of all distributed transactions that affect the coordinator database.
Since the database engine continually overwrites the contents of the BI file, the TL file is necessary to permanently record the status of a transaction. If you must resolve limbo transactions, the transaction log file ensures that the coordinator has a reliable record of the transaction.
If you enable after-imaging for the coordinator database, the coordinator automatically uses the after-image (AI) file to log the status of each distributed transaction, instead of using the transaction log file. By using the AI file, the database engine writes to disk less often than if you use both the AI and transaction log file, thus improving performance. However, the database engine still uses the transaction log file to store information when you make an AI file available for reuse. In addition, if you disable after-imaging, the coordinator once again uses the transaction log file.