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An evaluation of Erlang global process registries: meet Syn

Due to my personal interests and history, I often find myself building applications in field of the Internet Of Things. Most of the times I end up using Erlang: it is based on the Actor’s Model and is an ideological (and practical) perfect match to manage IoT interactions.

I recently built an application where devices can connect to, and interact with each other. Every device is identified via a unique ID (its serial number) and based on this ID the devices can send and receive messages. Nothing new here: it’s a standard messaging platform, which supports a custom protocol.

Due to the large amount of devices that I needed to support, this application runs on a cluster of Erlang nodes. Once a device connects to one of those nodes, the related TCP socket events are handled by a process running on that node. To send a message to a specific device, you send a message to the process that handles the devices’s TCP socket.

While building this application, I was early in the process faced with a very common problem: I needed a global process registry that would allow me to globally register a process based on its serial number, so that messages can be sent from anywhere in the cluster. This registry would need to have the following main characteristics:

  • Distributed.
  • Fast write speeds (>10,000 / sec).
  • Handle naming conflict resolution.
  • Allow for adding/removal of nodes.

Therefore I started to search for possible solutions (which included posting to the Erlang Questions mailing list), and these came out as my options:

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