Coherence uses TCMP, a clustered IP-based protocol, for server discovery, cluster management, service provisioning and data transmission. To ensure true scalability, the TCMP protocol is completely asychronous, meaning that communication is never blocking, even when many threads on a server are communicating at the same time. Further, the asynchronous nature also means that the latency of the network (for example, on a routed network between two different sites) does not affect cluster throughput, although it will affect the speed of certain operations.
TCMP uses a combination of UDP/IP multicast, UDP/IP unicast and TCP/IP as follows:
The TCMP protocol provides fully reliable, in-order delivery of all messages. Since the underlying UDP/IP protocol does not provide for either reliable or in-order delivery, TCMP utilizes a queued, fully asynchronous ACK- and NACK-based mechanism for reliable delivery of messages, with unique integral identity for guaranteed ordering of messages.
The TCMP protocol requires only two UDP/IP sockets (one multicast, one unicast) and six threads per JVM, regardless of the cluster size. This is a key element in the scalability of Coherence, in that regardless of the number of servers, each node in the cluster can still communicate either point-to-point or with collections of cluster members without requiring additional network connections.
The optional TCP/IP ring will use a few additional TCP/IP sockets, and a total of one additional thread.
The TCMP protocol is very tunable to take advantage of specific network topologies, or to add tolerance for low-bandwidth and/or high-latency segments in a geographically distributed cluster. Coherence comes with a pre-set configuration, some of which is dynamically self-configuring at runtime, but all attributes of TCMP can be overridden and locked down for deployment purposes.
Multicast UDP/IP packets are configured with a time-to-live value (TTL) that designates how far those packets can travel on a network. The TTL is expressed in terms of how many "hops" a packet will survive; each network interface, router and managed switch is considered one hop. Coherence provides a TTL setting to limit the scope of multicast messages.
In most WAN environments, and some LAN environments, multicast traffic is disallowed. To prevent Coherence from using multicast, configure a list of well-known-addresses (WKA). This will disable multicast discovery, and also disable multicast for all data transfer. Coherence is designed to use point-to-point communication as much as possible, so most application profiles will not see a substantial performance impact.