Data integrity depends on time synchronization

In a distributed compute system, such as any multi-device transaction system or database, time synchronization is essential to data integrity. The simplest case is a multi-step transaction over multiple compute devices – something that is common to a wide range of applications. Consider a financial trading application where machine A gets a tick containing a price change, machine B sends a bid out to an exchange via machine X that does some sanity/safety check, machine D gets a trade conformation of this trade, and machine E reconciles the book. We distribute this computation over 5 machines because we need both the compute and I/O bandwidth (both network and storage i/o) and because the system needs to be able to continue to operate even if machines go down, and because different machines may have different advantages. Without authoritative time stamp, we cannot serialize this single transaction in the record or log. We can’t analyze performance to see where there are bottlenecks. We can’t catch emerging problems before failure. We don’t have a sensible forensic log.