Distributed Transactions,WS-COOR,WS-AT

Posted: August 10, 2008 in .NET, Transactions, WCF
Tags: , ,

In my last post I had discussed about the Lightweight Transaction Manager(LTM) introduced with .NET 2.0.In this post we will take a look at MSDTC and how we can handle distributed transactions.
Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator(MSDTC) can handle transactions with
1) Multiple Durable Resource Managers
2) Transaction Flow crossing process and machine boundaries.

As we have seen in the first post, in a transaction which is distributed across machines every box has a local transaction manager.The local transaction manager of the machine which initiates the transaction is called root transaction manager and it coordinates with local transaction managers in other machines.So all the transaction managers need to have a communication protocol for interacting messages over the network.For a distributed transaction across multiple windows machines each machine will have MSDTC as it’s local transaction manager and one of them will be the root.This is not a problem as MSDTC running on windows can communicate over network using RPC.

But what happens if one of the machines is running on Unix with a different transaction manager?

This is a question cross platform communication for distributed transaction related messages.Here also the Web Services standards come to our rescue.

There are two web Services standards for implementing this WS-coordination and WS-AtomicTransactions.
I will try to explain them briefly below:


This protocol defines an extensible coordination framework among different Web Services.It introduces a new SOAP Header block called Coordination Context.
The Web Service acting as a coordinator sends a Coordination context header to the target services.The target services upon receiving the coordination context analyses the information contained in the Coordination context header and decides to join the coordination or not.
The information contained in the coordination context depends upon the coordination type.The coordination types are open ended and new ones can be added.


Atomic Transaction is one coodination type.This is built upon WS-Coordination framework and supports 2PC.But the messages are exchanged in SOAP format and thus achieving platform interoperability.

so to have distributed transactions with machines running on different platforms the local transaction manager supported by each platform should be able send and receive WS-COOR and WS-AT compliant XML messages over HTTP.

  1. Ken says:

    Could you perhaps define ws-businessTransactions as well?

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