Pattern: Saga

Context

You have applied the Database per Service pattern. Each service has its own database. Some business transactions, however, span multiple service so you need a mechanism to implement transactions that span services. For example, let’s imagine that you are building an e-commerce store where customers have a credit limit. The application must ensure that a new order will not exceed the customer’s credit limit. Since Orders and Customers are in different databases owned by different services the application cannot simply use a local ACID transaction.

Problem

How to implement transactions that span services?

Forces

  • 2PC is not an option

Solution

Implement each business transaction that spans multiple services is a saga. A saga is a sequence of local transactions. Each local transaction updates the database and publishes a message or event to trigger the next local transaction in the saga. If a local transaction fails because it violates a business rule then the saga executes a series of compensating transactions that undo the changes that were made by the preceding local transactions.

There are two ways of coordination sagas:

  • Choreography - each local transaction publishes domain events that trigger local transactions in other services
  • Orchestration - an orchestrator (object) tells the participants what local transactions to execute

Example: Choreography-based saga

An e-commerce application that uses this approach would create an order using a choreography-based saga that consists of the following steps:

  1. The Order Service receives the POST /orders request and creates an Order in a PENDING state
  2. It then emits an Order Created event
  3. The Customer Service’s event handler attempts to reserve credit
  4. It then emits an event indicating the outcome
  5. The OrderService’s event handler either approves or rejects the Order

Example: Orchestration-based saga

An e-commerce application that uses this approach would create an order using an orchestration-based saga that consists of the following steps:

  1. The Order Service receives the POST /orders request and creates the Create Order saga orchestrator
  2. The saga orchestrator creates an Order in the PENDING state
  3. It then sends a Reserve Credit command to the Customer Service
  4. The Customer Service attempts to reserve credit
  5. It then sends back a reply message indicating the outcome
  6. The saga orchestrator either approves or rejects the Order

Resulting context

This pattern has the following benefits:

  • It enables an application to maintain data consistency across multiple services without using distributed transactions

This solution has the following drawbacks:

  • The programming model is more complex. For example, a developer must design compensating transactions that explicitly undo changes made earlier in a saga.

There are also the following issues to address:

  • In order to be reliable, a service must atomically update its database and publish a message/event. It cannot use the traditional mechanism of a distributed transaction that spans the database and the message broker. Instead, it must use one of the patterns listed below.

Learn more

Example code

The following examples implement the customers and orders example in different ways:

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