In a federated database system or any other more loosely defined multidatabase system, which are typically distributed in a communication network, transactions span multiple (and possibly distributed) databases. Enforcing global serializability in such system, where different databases may use different types of concurrency control, is problematic. Even if every local schedule of a single database is serializable, the global schedule of a whole system is not necessarily serializable. The massive communication exchanges of conflict information needed between databases to reach conflict serializability globally would lead to unacceptable performance, primarily due to computer and communication latency. Achieving global serializability effectively over different types of concurrency control has been open for several years. Commitment ordering (or Commit ordering; CO), a serializability technique publicly introduced in 1991 by Yoav Raz from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), provides an effective general solution for global (conflict) serializability across any collection of database systems and other transactional objects, with possibly different concurrency control mechanisms. CO does not need the distribution of conflict information, but rather utilizes the already needed (unmodified) atomic commitment protocol messages without any further communication between databases. It also allows optimistic (non-blocking) implementations. CO generalizes Strong strict two phase locking (SS2PL), which in conjunction with the Two-phase commit (2PC) protocol is the de facto standard for achieving global serializability across (SS2PL based) database systems. As a result, CO compliant database systems (with any, different concurrency control types) can transparently join existing SS2PL based solutions for global serializability. The same applies also to all other multiple (transactional) object systems that use atomic transactions and need global serializability for correctness (see examples above; nowadays such need is not smaller than with database systems, the origin of atomic transactions).
The most significant aspects of CO that make it a uniquely effective general solution for global serializability are the following:
All these aspects, except the first two, are also possessed by the popular SS2PL, which is a (constrained, blocking) special case of CO and inherits many of CO's qualities.
The difficulties described above translate into the following problem:
Lack of an appropriate solution for the global serializability problem has driven researchers to look for alternatives to serializability as a correctness criterion in a multidatabase environment (e.g., see Relaxing global serializability below), and the problem has been characterized as difficult and open. The following two quotations demonstrate the mindset about it by the end of the year 1991, with similar quotations in numerous other articles:
Commitment ordering, publicly introduced in May 1991 (see below), provides an efficient elegant general solution, from both practical and theoretical points of view, to the global serializability problem across database systems with possibly different concurrency control mechanisms. It provides conflict serializability with no negative effect on availability, and with no worse performance than the de facto standard for global serializability, CO's special case Strong strict two-phase locking (SS2PL). It requires knowledge about neither local nor global transactions.
The commitment ordering solution comprises effective integration of autonomous database management systems with possibly different concurrency control mechanisms. This while local and global transactions execute in parallel without restricting any read or write operation in either local or global transactions, and without compromising the systems' autonomy.