Why the "Raft" name?

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Diego Ongaro

Dec 15, 2015, 12:13:15 PM12/15/15
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People ask me why it's called "Raft" every now and then, and I didn't have anything public on that until now. I wrote this up earlier in the year in a private email. I want a URL for it, so I'm sending it here and spamming all of you.

There's a few reasons we came up with the name Raft:
- It's not quite an acronym, but we were thinking about the words 'reliable', 'replicated', 'redundant', and 'fault-tolerant'.
- We were thinking about logs and what can be built using them.
- We were thinking about the island of Paxos and how to escape it.

As a plus, we were using the randomly generated name Cheesomi in the paper before we came up with the name Raft in September 2012. The name appeared just over 100 times in our paper submission back then, so switching to the shorter name actually helped shrink the paper down quite a bit.

If you want even more detail, we had trouble coming up with a good name, so we made it an explicit agenda item during a RAMCloud meeting. I found two photos of the whiteboard during/after that meeting that I attached here. Looks like the top contenders were Raft, Knox (as in Fort Knox, I guess), Redundo, and Cloudsense (no clue). I don't remember the details of how we ended up with Raft, since it didn't obviously win the vote, but I do remember the name caught on really quickly. People seemed to like it almost right away. I'm so fucking glad it's not called Redundo.

Thanks for listening,


Kijana Woodard

Dec 15, 2015, 12:57:02 PM12/15/15
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"...glad it's not called Redundo."


And avoiding the word Cloud is a huge win. Talk about dating your technology.

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May 6, 2017, 7:32:16 AM5/6/17
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That's very clever and I thank you for going to the trouble to post it. Re{liable|plicated|dundant} And Fault-Tolerant isn't nearly as good as the other two.

I'd been thinking that a raft is something that allows its different components to achieve buoyancy together and survive collectively. But that would apply to any consensus algorithm.

- dpb
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