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There's a lot of complexity here, but the short version is that nodes cannot quite come and go freely. A replica set keeps track of its members; a quorum of the existing members must vote to admit a new node, or to remove one.

Note that in both CockroachDB and Spanner a cluster contains many independent and overlapping replica sets. The data is broken down into "ranges" (to use the terminology of CockroachDB; Spanner calls them "spans"), each of which has its own replica set (typically containing 3 or 5 members).




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