In the previous post, we started accepting client requests, and a minimal set of tests to make sure that everything works. In this post we will draft the Storage layer abstraction, and finish up implementing other commands (Get, Set and Clear).

Storage abstraction

This project is meant to describe how a distributed key-value store would work, along with a series of blog posts to help explain some concepts, that being said, it’s not a production grade storage system, so we are allowed to make some compromises to keep simplicity and understandability our main goal as opposed to performance and reliability.

We will try to design a basic Storage abstraction to describe how any Storage engine for this project would work, and we will provide the simplest possible implementation to meet our simplicity goals, and also provide the ability of extension for people wanting to try different things in terms of storage implementation.

pub trait Storage {
    fn open(&mut self, dir: String, options: StorageOptions) -> Result<()>;

    fn set(&mut self, key: String, value: String) -> Result<()>;

    fn get(&self, key: &String) -> Result<Option<&String>>;

    fn unset(&mut self, key: &String) -> Result<Option<String>>;

    fn close(self) -> Result<()>;

The abstraction is provided as a Rust trait, which is the Rust way of describing interfaces like other languages.

The abstraction provides a couple of methods that are part of the lifecycle of a storage engine open and close, and this gives hooks for initialisation work (opening file handles, creating Data structures necessary for correct behaviour …), and cleanup (close resources, flush data to disk / network …).

This abstraction provides the set of methods that you expect to find in a key value store: get, set and unset.

Below is the simplest possible in-memory implementation:

pub struct InMemStorage {
    db: HashMap<String, String>,

impl Storage for InMemStorage {
    fn open(&mut self, _dir: String, _options: StorageOptions) -> Result<()> {

    fn set(&mut self, key: String, value: String) -> Result<()> {
        self.db.insert(key, value);

    fn get(&self, key: &String) -> Result<Option<&String>> {

    fn unset(&mut self, key: &String) -> Result<Option<String>> {

    fn close(self) -> Result<()> {

As you can see, the trait implementation just delegates to a std::collections::HashMap to keep key-value pairs in memory, people can experiment with other more sophisticated implementations …

Now our storage interface looks like this:

type StorageEngine = Arc<Mutex<Box<dyn Storage + Send + Sync>>>;

The type definition is quite verbose, but it’s not for nothing:

  • The storage engine should be put in a Box which means that it’s a heap allocated object, as traits don’t have a size known at compile time, so rust does not know how much space it will need on the stack, thus the need for heap allocation.
  • The object in the box should be transferable across thread boundaries thus the need for Send and Sync.
  • The object should be safe to be accessed by multiple threads, thus the need for a Mutex.
  • The object should be thread-safe copyable, thus the need of an Atomically safe reference counted pointer, or Arc.

To not have to specify this long type signature everywhere we need to use the storage, we created a type alias called StorageEngine to be used instead.

We also introduced a new type called Executor that keeps a reference of a storage engine and a handler, and it has a 1:1 relationship with the client, and it will be responsible for handling client requests:

pub(crate) struct Executor {
    handler: ConnectionHandler,
    store: Arc<Mutex<Box<dyn Storage + Send + Sync>>>,

At creation time, the Executor takes ownership of a StorageEngine instance and a ClientHandler and keeps running and executing commands until an error occurs (the command sent by the client cannot be parsed), or the client closes the connection.

impl Executor {
    pub(crate) fn new(handler: ConnectionHandler, store: StorageEngine) -> Self {
        return Executor { handler, store };

    pub(crate) async fn run(&mut self) -> Result<()> {
        loop {
            let cmd = match self.handler.read_command().await {
                Ok(val) => val,
                Err(_msg) => None,
            if let Some(cmd) = cmd {
                execute_cmd(&mut, &mut self.handler, cmd).await?;
            } else {
                return Err("Connection closed / Poisoned message".into());

To execute a command, we only need a reference to the StorageEngine, a ConnectionHandler to write the response to and the Command to execute, the execute_cmd function would match on the command type, and delegate to the correct handler method:

async fn execute_cmd(
    store: &mut StorageEngine,
    handler: &mut ConnectionHandler,
    cmd: Command,
) -> Result<()> {
    let result = match cmd {
        Command::Ping(key) => handle_ping(key),
        Command::Set(key, value) => handle_set(store, key, value),
        Command::Get(key) => handle_get(store, key),
        Command::Clear(key) => handle_unset(store, key),

Changing the underlying StorageEngine requires taking a lock as it’s guarded by a Mutex as described above, as the same instance would be accessible by multiple threads.

Taking a Mutex lock will return a MutexGuard type (if the lock could be obtained), which can be used to change the underlying resource, once the guard is out of scope, it will be destroyed and the lock will be released.

fn handle_set(store: &mut StorageEngine, key: String, value: String) -> Response {
    let mut guard = store.lock().unwrap();
    return match guard.set(key.clone(), value) {
        Ok(_) => Response::Ok(key),
        Err(_) => Response::Error(String::from("Error happened while setting the key")),

The set of tests to make sure that this operation works is going to be written in the same way we did for the Ping command in the last post, let’s look at a Set then Override test:

async fn test_set_override() {
    let addr = start_server().await.unwrap();
    let mut client = kvstore::client::create(addr).await.unwrap();
    let res = client
        .set(String::from("key"), String::from("value1"))
    assert_eq!(res, Some(Response::Ok(String::from("key"))));

    let res = client
        .set(String::from("key"), String::from("value2"))
    assert_eq!(res, Some(Response::Ok(String::from("key"))));

    let res = client.get(String::from("key")).await.unwrap();
    assert_eq!(res, Some(Response::Ok(String::from("value2"))));

The client sets a key with value value1 and then it overrides it with value2 then queries the key to make sure that the last value is the one that is stored on the server.


This post was somewhat purely technical, although it didn’t contain anything specific to distributed systems, it was necessary to describe the current state of the project and rational behind some code changes.

Now that we have a single node key-value store, how can we make it distributed, The following posts will try to describe how to do just that.

For the rest of the code, you can find it here.