Pitfalls of isolation levels in distributed databases

published on 2023/09/06

The more loosely coupled components are in a distributed system, the better it scales. This rule applies to distributed databases, too, and the isolation level plays a big part in this. This post attempts to explain what these isolation levels mean and the tradeoffs between them. We also give you recommendations on how to choose the isolation level best suited to your needs.

There exists a set of ANSI Standards for isolation. There is also a critique about those standards explaining the ambiguities in them. These explanations are interesting for those who are passionate about databases and transactions, but this level of understanding is not required to use a database.

In this post, we are going to cover the minimum knowledge required to use isolation levels effectively. To achieve this, we are going to study two use cases that are representative of most applications and look at their effects with respect to different isolation levels.

Planet Scale