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Online transaction processing (OLTP) is a class of systems that supports or facilitates high transaction-oriented applications. OLTP’s primary system features are immediate client feedback and high individual transaction volume.
OLTP is mainly used in industries that rely heavily on the efficient processing of a large number of client transactions, e.g., banks, airlines and retailers. Database systems that support OLTP are usually decentralized to avoid single points of failure and to spread the volume between multiple servers.
OLTP systems must provide atomicity, which is the ability to fully process or completely undo an order. Partial processing is never an option. When airline passenger seats are booked, atomicity combines the two system actions of reserving and paying for the seat. Both actions must happen together or not at all.
Heavy OLTP system reliance brings added challenges. For example, if server or communication channels fail, an entire business chain can grind to an immediate halt.