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15.3.8 XA Transactions

Support for XA transactions is available for the InnoDB storage engine. The MySQL XA implementation is based on the X/Open CAE document Distributed Transaction Processing: The XA Specification. This document is published by The Open Group and available at Limitations of the current XA implementation are described in Section, “Restrictions on XA Transactions”.

On the client side, there are no special requirements. The XA interface to a MySQL server consists of SQL statements that begin with the XA keyword. MySQL client programs must be able to send SQL statements and to understand the semantics of the XA statement interface. They do not need be linked against a recent client library. Older client libraries also work.

Among the MySQL Connectors, MySQL Connector/J 5.0.0 and higher supports XA directly, by means of a class interface that handles the XA SQL statement interface for you.

XA supports distributed transactions, that is, the ability to permit multiple separate transactional resources to participate in a global transaction. Transactional resources often are RDBMSs but may be other kinds of resources.

A global transaction involves several actions that are transactional in themselves, but that all must either complete successfully as a group, or all be rolled back as a group. In essence, this extends ACID properties up a level so that multiple ACID transactions can be executed in concert as components of a global operation that also has ACID properties. (As with nondistributed transactions, SERIALIZABLE may be preferred if your applications are sensitive to read phenomena. REPEATABLE READ may not be sufficient for distributed transactions.)

Some examples of distributed transactions:

  • An application may act as an integration tool that combines a messaging service with an RDBMS. The application makes sure that transactions dealing with message sending, retrieval, and processing that also involve a transactional database all happen in a global transaction. You can think of this as transactional email.

  • An application performs actions that involve different database servers, such as a MySQL server and an Oracle server (or multiple MySQL servers), where actions that involve multiple servers must happen as part of a global transaction, rather than as separate transactions local to each server.

  • A bank keeps account information in an RDBMS and distributes and receives money through automated teller machines (ATMs). It is necessary to ensure that ATM actions are correctly reflected in the accounts, but this cannot be done with the RDBMS alone. A global transaction manager integrates the ATM and database resources to ensure overall consistency of financial transactions.

Applications that use global transactions involve one or more Resource Managers and a Transaction Manager:

  • A Resource Manager (RM) provides access to transactional resources. A database server is one kind of resource manager. It must be possible to either commit or roll back transactions managed by the RM.

  • A Transaction Manager (TM) coordinates the transactions that are part of a global transaction. It communicates with the RMs that handle each of these transactions. The individual transactions within a global transaction are branches of the global transaction. Global transactions and their branches are identified by a naming scheme described later.

The MySQL implementation of XA enables a MySQL server to act as a Resource Manager that handles XA transactions within a global transaction. A client program that connects to the MySQL server acts as the Transaction Manager.

To carry out a global transaction, it is necessary to know which components are involved, and bring each component to a point when it can be committed or rolled back. Depending on what each component reports about its ability to succeed, they must all commit or roll back as an atomic group. That is, either all components must commit, or all components must roll back. To manage a global transaction, it is necessary to take into account that any component or the connecting network might fail.

The process for executing a global transaction uses two-phase commit (2PC). This takes place after the actions performed by the branches of the global transaction have been executed.

  1. In the first phase, all branches are prepared. That is, they are told by the TM to get ready to commit. Typically, this means each RM that manages a branch records the actions for the branch in stable storage. The branches indicate whether they are able to do this, and these results are used for the second phase.

  2. In the second phase, the TM tells the RMs whether to commit or roll back. If all branches indicated when they were prepared that they were able to commit, all branches are told to commit. If any branch indicated when it was prepared that it was not able to commit, all branches are told to roll back.

In some cases, a global transaction might use one-phase commit (1PC). For example, when a Transaction Manager finds that a global transaction consists of only one transactional resource (that is, a single branch), that resource can be told to prepare and commit at the same time.