Transient Replication


Transient Replication (CASSANDRA-14404) is an experimental feature designed for expert Apache Cassandra users who are able to validate every aspect of the database for their application and deployment. That means being able to check that operations like reads, writes, decommission, remove, rebuild, repair, and replace all work with your queries, data, configuration, operational practices, and availability requirements. Apache Cassandra 4.0 has the initial implementation of transient replication. Future releases of Cassandra will make this feature suitable for a wider audience. It is anticipated that a future version will support monotonic reads with transient replication as well as LWT, logged batches, and counters. Being experimental, Transient replication is not recommended for production use.


The objective of transient replication is to decouple storage requirements from data redundancy (or consensus group size) using incremental repair, in order to reduce storage overhead. Certain nodes act as full replicas (storing all the data for a given token range), and some nodes act as transient replicas, storing only unrepaired data for the same token ranges.

The optimization that is made possible with transient replication is called “Cheap quorums”, which implies that data redundancy is increased without corresponding increase in storage usage.

Transient replication is useful when sufficient full replicas are available to receive and store all the data. Transient replication allows you to configure a subset of replicas to only replicate data that hasn’t been incrementally repaired. As an optimization, we can avoid writing data to a transient replica if we have successfully written data to the full replicas.

After incremental repair, transient data stored on transient replicas can be discarded.

Enabling Transient Replication

Transient replication is not enabled by default. Transient replication must be enabled on each node in a cluster separately by setting the following configuration property in cassandra.yaml.

enable_transient_replication: true

Transient replication may be configured with both SimpleStrategy and NetworkTopologyStrategy. Transient replication is configured by setting replication factor as <total_replicas>/<transient_replicas>.

As an example, create a keyspace with replication factor (RF) 3.

CREATE KEYSPACE CassandraKeyspaceSimple WITH replication = {'class': 'SimpleStrategy',
'replication_factor' : 3/1};

As another example, some_keysopace keyspace will have 3 replicas in DC1, 1 of which is transient, and 5 replicas in DC2, 2 of which are transient:

CREATE KEYSPACE some_keysopace WITH replication = {'class': 'NetworkTopologyStrategy',
'DC1' : '3/1'', 'DC2' : '5/2'};

Transiently replicated keyspaces only support tables with read_repair set to NONE.

Important Restrictions:

  • RF cannot be altered while some endpoints are not in a normal state (no range movements).
  • You can’t add full replicas if there are any transient replicas. You must first remove all transient replicas, then change the # of full replicas, then add back the transient replicas.
  • You can only safely increase number of transients one at a time with incremental repair run in between each time.

Additionally, transient replication cannot be used for:

  • Monotonic Reads
  • Lightweight Transactions (LWTs)
  • Logged Batches
  • Counters
  • Keyspaces using materialized views
  • Secondary indexes (2i)

Cheap Quorums

Cheap quorums are a set of optimizations on the write path to avoid writing to transient replicas unless sufficient full replicas are not available to satisfy the requested consistency level. Hints are never written for transient replicas. Optimizations on the read path prefer reading from transient replicas. When writing at quorum to a table configured to use transient replication the quorum will always prefer available full replicas over transient replicas so that transient replicas don’t have to process writes. Tail latency is reduced by rapid write protection (similar to rapid read protection) when full replicas are slow or unavailable by sending writes to transient replicas. Transient replicas can serve reads faster as they don’t have to do anything beyond bloom filter checks if they have no data. With vnodes and large cluster sizes they will not have a large quantity of data even for failure of one or more full replicas where transient replicas start to serve a steady amount of write traffic for some of their transiently replicated ranges.

Speculative Write Option

The CREATE TABLE adds an option speculative_write_threshold for use with transient replicas. The option is of type simple with default value as 99PERCENTILE. When replicas are slow or unresponsive speculative_write_threshold specifies the threshold at which a cheap quorum write will be upgraded to include transient replicas.

Pending Ranges and Transient Replicas

Pending ranges refers to the movement of token ranges between transient replicas. When a transient range is moved, there will be a period of time where both transient replicas would need to receive any write intended for the logical transient replica so that after the movement takes effect a read quorum is able to return a response. Nodes are not temporarily transient replicas during expansion. They stream data like a full replica for the transient range before they can serve reads. A pending state is incurred similar to how there is a pending state for full replicas. Transient replicas also always receive writes when they are pending. Pending transient ranges are sent a bit more data and reading from them is avoided.

Read Repair and Transient Replicas

Read repair never attempts to repair a transient replica. Reads will always include at least one full replica. They should also prefer transient replicas where possible. Range scans ensure the entire scanned range performs replica selection that satisfies the requirement that every range scanned includes one full replica. During incremental & validation repair handling, at transient replicas anti-compaction does not output any data for transient ranges as the data will be dropped after repair, and transient replicas never have data streamed to them.

Transitioning between Full Replicas and Transient Replicas

The additional state transitions that transient replication introduces requires streaming and nodetool cleanup to behave differently. When data is streamed it is ensured that it is streamed from a full replica and not a transient replica.

Transitioning from not replicated to transiently replicated means that a node must stay pending until the next incremental repair completes at which point the data for that range is known to be available at full replicas.

Transitioning from transiently replicated to fully replicated requires streaming from a full replica and is identical to how data is streamed when transitioning from not replicated to replicated. The transition is managed so the transient replica is not read from as a full replica until streaming completes. It can be used immediately for a write quorum.

Transitioning from fully replicated to transiently replicated requires cleanup to remove repaired data from the transiently replicated range to reclaim space. It can be used immediately for a write quorum.

Transitioning from transiently replicated to not replicated requires cleanup to be run to remove the formerly transiently replicated data.

When transient replication is in use ring changes are supported including add/remove node, change RF, add/remove DC.

Transient Replication supports EACH_QUORUM

(CASSANDRA-14727) adds support for Transient Replication support for EACH_QUORUM. Per (CASSANDRA-14768), we ensure we write to at least a QUORUM of nodes in every DC, regardless of how many responses we need to wait for and our requested consistency level. This is to minimally surprise users with transient replication; with normal writes, we soft-ensure that we reach QUORUM in all DCs we are able to, by writing to every node; even if we don’t wait for ACK, we have in both cases sent sufficient messages.