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ZooKeeper is a distributed, open-source coordination service for distributed applications. It exposes a simple set of primitives that distributed applications can build upon to implement higher level services for synchronization, configuration maintenance, and groups and naming. It is designed to be easy to program to, and uses a data model styled after the familiar directory tree structure of file systems. It runs in Java and has bindings for both Java and C.
ZooKeeper allows distributed processes to coordinate with each other through a shared hierarchal namespace which is organized similarly to a standard file system. The name space consists of data registers - called znodes, in ZooKeeper parlance - and these are similar to files and directories. Unlike a typical file system, which is designed for storage, ZooKeeper data is kept in-memory, which means ZooKeeper can achieve high throughput and low latency numbers.
Like the distributed processes it coordinates, ZooKeeper itself is intended to be replicated over a sets of hosts called an ensemble.