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Key Value Store

You are building an application with a Microservices Architecture.

How do you store data that is naturally accessed through a simple key lookup such as cache entries?

  • You want to use the simplest tool for the job at hand.

  • You want to make your accesses (Cache lookups or other accesses) as fast as possible.

Store your data in a scalable Key-Value Store. The principal advantage of a key value store over other types of Distributed Store is its simplicity. Most Key-Value Stores act, in principle, like a hash map.

For example, Redis has simple GET and SET commands to store and retrieve string values. What’s more, for simple key lookup operations, Redis offers O(1) performance.

If, on the other hand, you used a more complex store type such as a Document Store for storing cache entries, then you would find that the performance of such solutions is often not as good. That is because other distributed store types optimize for more complex cases such as searching by the contents of the documents stored.

There is no magic in using a Key-Value store. In many cases such as EhCache, they are in-memory stores, and as such only can provide Consistency and Availability but not Partition tolerance (as per Brewer’s CAP Theorem). This limits the size of the cache. The mechanism used by many others (e.g. Redis with clusters) is to map keys to specific distributed nodes, and to route requests to the appropriate server, which then stores that corresponding set of values in memory. In order to maintain Availability, this means that you must have copies (slaves) of each node. This means that by the CAP theorem you can gain Partition tolerance, but at the potential loss of Consistency while the master synchronizes with the slave.