Migration to Timelock Server


The scope of this document covers migrations of AtlasDB-using services from using an embedded timestamp and lock service to using TimeLock. In particular, migrations of the timestamp bound persistence method are NOT covered here, and attempting to do this procedure incorrectly runs a risk of SEVERE DATA CORRUPTION.

Why Migration?

AtlasDB assumes that timestamps returned by the timestamp service are monotonically increasing. In order to preserve this guarantee when moving from an embedded timestamp service to an external timestamp service, we need to ensure that timestamps issued by the external timestamp service are larger than those issued by the embedded one. Otherwise, this can lead to serious data corruption.

Automated Migration


If your service is highly available, you MUST shut down ALL nodes of your service after step 2 before bringing up any nodes in step 5. Otherwise, there is a risk of SEVERE DATA CORRUPTION as timestamps may be given out of order.


Automated migrations are only implemented for Cassandra, and from AtlasDB 0.253.2 onwards DbKVS. If you are using any other KVS, please follow the instructions at Manual Migration to Timelock Server.


If other services are dependent on the timestamp and lock service exposed by the AtlasDB client in question, steps should be taken to move them to timelock before this service is migrated to timelock, and for those services a manual migration will be necessary (seeing as they must be using remote timestamp blocks, and/or misusing timelock configuration to point to those services).

  1. Confirm that your AtlasDB installation is backed by Cassandra KVS, or you are using DbKVS and your version of AtlasDB is at least 0.253.2.

  2. (Optional) Take a fresh timestamp from your AtlasDB services, using the fresh timestamp CLI or the /timestamp/fresh-timestamp endpoint. This step is not strictly required, but may be useful for verification.

  3. Shut down all nodes of your service. These must remain shut until after step 4 is performed. Failure to do so incurs risks of SEVERE DATA CORRUPTION as timestamps may be given out of order.

  4. Add the Timelock client configuration to your service.

  5. Starting/re-starting the service will automatically migrate the service. Note that the service may not elect a leader until a timestamp or lock request for some client is actually made.


It may be useful to verify that an automatic migration was carried out successfully. In addition to simply performing smoke tests of your clients and checking that they still work, there are a few other ways of checking that the migration occurred correctly.

  1. Request Logs: Find the TimeLock leader, and search its request logs for calls to the fastForwardTimestamp endpoint. These should be called with a currentTimestamp query parameter, which should be the bound in the embedded timestamp bound store before the migration.

    This bound should be noted down before an upgrade, perhaps with cqlsh or other interface to the DB:

    cqlsh> USE keyspace;
    cqlsh:keyspace> SELECT * FROM "_timestamp";
     key    | column1 | column2 | value
     0x7473 |  0x7473 |      -1 | 0x0001020304050607

    Otherwise, if using Cassandra we can attempt to determine this bound, by finding the most recent occurrence of [CAS] Setting cached limit to {}. in the AtlasDB client logs (across all AtlasDB clients). Note that this is logged at INFO level by the DebugLogger, so if you have directed that to a separate appender you will need to search in those logs instead.

  2. Key-Value Service table state: Check the state of the key-value service. For Cassandra, you should expect to see two rows: oldTs (the backed up value of the timestamp bound) and ts (a bogus one byte array indicating that the timestamp table has been invalidated). The oldTs value should match the currentTimestamp values in the request logs.

    cqlsh> USE keyspace;
    cqlsh:keyspace> SELECT * FROM "_timestamp";
     key    | column1      | column2 | value
     0x7473 | 0x6f6c645473 |      -1 | 0x0001020304050607
     0x7473 |       0x7473 |      -1 |               0x00

    We store timestamps as blobs in Cassandra, but the entry in the request logs is in decimal. One way of checking they are equal is by converting the oldTs value to decimal through the shell:

    $ echo $((0x0001020304050607))
  3. AtlasDB Client Logs: Search for [BACKUP] Backed up the value {} in the AtlasDB client logs. This should occur precisely once, and the value should match that as retrieved by the aforementioned methods.