The Challenge

Precision Timing Solutions for Big Data

The Challenge

Big data just keeps getting bigger.

Every year the number of connected devices grows. Expectations of performance from data service providers become more and more demanding. And, it turns out, adding more and more hardware to improve performance or capacity doesn’t scale infinitely. All of this adds up to significant challenges for data operators.

Big Data Timing Solutions

For decades, Orolia has been providing timing solutions to operators of mission critical networks. Our customers rely upon our technology across industries like Financial Services, Telecom, Retail, Process Control, Military / Aerospace, Public Safety, and others where downtime is not an option.

Big Data Solutions

Big Data White Paper

The Advent of Tightly Synchronized Clocks in Distributed Systems
The Advent of Tightly Synchronized Clocks
in Distributed Systems


To improve efficiency and performance, many data operators are turning to a solution ignored for years within the data community - time. Within Big Data, time has historically been considered to be either too unreliable to be useful or too expensive to implemented. However, with the rise in popularity of new models such as NoSQL and eventually consistent databases, time is emerging as a powerful tool for data operators to use in the battle against the rising tides of data.

Time for efficiency and performance

Data operators are finding that by using accurate timestamps from hardware based clocks, they are able to improve performance and efficiency by reducing things like data conflicts. A good example is distributed systems which use an eventual consistency approach. This is a popular method of distributing data over replica, where if no updates were to be made, eventually all of the replica would have the same data. While this method often provides greater performance and availability, it sacrifices consistency. And as data grows and becomes more distributed, data conflicts are inevitable.

There are many creative ways that have been developed to deal with these conflicts - coordination protocols, vector clocks, versioning control, and so on. Pretty much everything EXCEPT using accurate timestamps. But all of these methods require bandwidth and CPU cycles and don't even guarantee that they can resolve the conflict at the end of it all. And in that process, you’ve used precious system resources that degrade the performance of your database and introduced delays which impact the user experience.

Simplify Your Large Deployments With NTP over AnyCast

Using NTP over AnyCast allows you to manage thousands of clients through a single, virtual IP address, removing the logistics involved with deploying and managing Enterprise scale networks

A new approach being adopted by data operators is to simply use the accurate, reliable timestamp provided by a Spectracom timeserver to determine the freshest data. This can greatly reduce or eliminate the overhead processing and latency associated with resolving data conflicts through older methods.

Having accurate time across a network also provides the granularity needed to accurately measure latency between points. This is essential for troubleshooting and identifying bottlenecks, especially in networks subject to microbursts of traffic. And as the quantity and speed of data grows, identifying and solving those types of issues is becoming more and more difficult to do without using accurate time.

The Building Blocks



More Info
Seven Solutions White Rabbit clocks can be easily integrated into a data center’s architecture, combining White Rabbit interfaces for nanosecond time transfer with flexible configuration options (NTP, PTP, 1PPS, etc) for uncompromising time delivery performance.

pdf - 2 MB
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Technical Notes and Briefs

More Info
Spectracom’s GNSS constellation simulators can easily simulate a leap second event such December 31, 2016. A typical test can take as little as 30 to 35 minutes to set up and run. A sample leap second scenario is available for download. This application note provides background on the leap second event and describes leap second testing with the Spectracom simulator.
pdf - 93 KB
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
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More Info
Spectracom NTP services, implemented in its SecureSync and NetClock 9400 platforms, are compatible with an Anycast routing scheme. The NTP over Anycast feature is a combination of the time server’s ability to associate one of its network ports to an Anycast IP address and to remove itself as an available time source if there is a problem with its reference.
pdf - 170 KB
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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White Papers

More Info

The last decade has brought a paradigm shift in computing systems from single processor devices — whose performance plateaued — to distributed computing systems. In distributed systems, nodes execute concurrently with limited information about what the other nodes are executing at the moment. A key component of distributed coordination is the enforcement of consistent views at all nodes for the ordering of significant events. To this end, events are "timestamped" with logical counters or — increasingly lately — with tightly-synchronized physical time.

About the Author:

Murat Demirbas is a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at University at Buffalo, SUNY. Murat received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 2004 and did a postdoc at the Theory of Distributed Systems Group at MIT in 2005. His research interests are in distributed and networked systems and cloud computing. Murat received an NSF CAREER award in 2008, UB Exceptional Scholars Young Investigator Award in 2010, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Senior Researcher of the Year Award in 2016. He maintains a popular blog on distributed systems at

pdf - 192 KB
Friday, May 11, 2018
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More Info

The traceability of time synchronization: This document briefly discusses the differences between a time source from within the network compared to outside the network with considerations for traceability for a network deployment of network time protocol (NTP).

pdf - 360 KB
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
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Next Steps

Whether you’re brand new to timing or are looking for an upgrade to a current system, we’re here to help. Orolia offers a wide variety of timing solutions to meet even the most demanding requirements for precision and availability. And we make timing easy with innovations like NTP over AnyCast which allows you to manage a timing network of any size with a single, virtual IP address. And with new innovations like STL, which provides secure, high accuracy sync with just an indoor antenna, Spectracom simplifies implementing timing in a way never before possible.