Analysis and discussion of the open source data management project Cassandra. Related subjects include:
I hoped to write a reasonable overview of current- to medium-term future IT innovation. Yeah, right. But if we abandon any hope that this post could be comprehensive, I can at least say:
1. Back in 2011, I ranted against the term Big Data, but expressed more fondness for the V words — Volume, Velocity, Variety and Variability. That said, when it comes to data management and movement, solutions to the V problems have generally been sketched out.
- Volume has been solved. There are Hadoop installations with 100s of petabytes of data, analytic RDBMS with 10s of petabytes, general-purpose Exadata sites with petabytes, and 10s/100s of petabytes of analytic Accumulo at the NSA. Further examples abound.
- Velocity is being solved. My recent post on Hadoop-based streaming suggests how. In other use cases, velocity is addressed via memory-centric RDBMS.
- Variety and Variability have been solved. MongoDB, Cassandra and perhaps others are strong NoSQL choices. Schema-on-need is in earlier days, but may help too.
2. Even so, there’s much room for innovation around data movement and management. I’d start with:
- Product maturity is a huge issue for all the above, and will remain one for years.
- Hadoop and Spark show that application execution engines:
- Have a lot of innovation ahead of them.
- Are tightly entwined with data management, and with data movement as well.
- Hadoop is due for another refactoring, focused on both in-memory and persistent storage.
- There are many issues in storage that can affect data technologies as well, including but not limited to:
- Solid-state (flash or post-flash) vs. spinning disk.
- Networked vs. direct-attached.
- Virtualized vs. identifiable-physical.
- Graph analytics and data management are still confused.
The Spark buzz keeps increasing; almost everybody I talk with expects Spark to win big, probably across several use cases.
Disclosure: I’ll soon be in a substantial client relationship with Databricks, hoping to improve their stealth-mode marketing.
The “real-time analytics” gold rush I called out last year continues. A large fraction of the vendors I talk with have some variant of “real-time analytics” as a central message.
Hadapt laid off its sales and marketing folks, and perhaps some engineers as well. In a nutshell, Hadapt’s approach to SQL-on-Hadoop wasn’t selling vs. the many alternatives, and Hadapt is doubling down on poly-structured data*/schema-on-need.
*While Hadapt doesn’t to my knowledge use the term “poly-structured data”, some other vendors do. And so I may start using it more myself, at least when the poly-structured/multi-structured distinction actually seems significant.
WibiData is partnering with DataStax, WibiData is of course pleased to get access to Cassandra’s user base, which gave me the opportunity to ask why they thought Cassandra had beaten HBase in those accounts. The answer was performance and availability, while Cassandra’s traditional lead in geo-distribution wasn’t mentioned at all.
Disclosure: My fingerprints are all over that deal.
In other news, WibiData has had some executive departures as well, but seems to be staying the course on its strategy. I continue to think that WibiData has a really interesting vision about how to do large-data-volume interactive computing, and anybody in that space would do well to talk with them or at least look into the open source projects WibiData sponsors.
I encountered another apparently-popular machine-learning term — bandit model. It seems to be glorified A/B testing, and it seems to be popular. I think the point is that it tries to optimize for just how much you invest in testing unproven (for good or bad) alternatives.
I had an awkward set of interactions with Gooddata, including my longest conversations with them since 2009. Gooddata is in the early days of trying to offer an all-things-to-all-people analytic stack via SaaS (Software as a Service). I gather that Hadoop, Vertica, PostgreSQL (a cheaper Vertica alternative), Spark, Shark (as a faster version of Hive) and Cassandra (under the covers) are all in the mix — but please don’t hold me to those details.
I continue to think that computing is moving to a combination of appliances, clusters, and clouds. That said, I recently bought a new gaming-class computer, and spent many hours gaming on it just yesterday.* I.e., there’s room for general-purpose workstations as well. But otherwise, I’m not hearing anything that contradicts my core point.
*The last beta weekend for The Elder Scrolls Online; I loved Morrowind.
Cassandra’s reputation in many quarters is:
- World-leading in the geo-distribution feature.
- Impressively scalable.
- Hard to use.
This has led competitors to use, and get away with, sales claims along the lines of “Well, if you really need geo-distribution and can’t wait for us to catch up — which we soon will! — you should use Cassandra. But otherwise, there are better choices.”
My friends at DataStax, naturally, don’t think that’s quite fair. And so I invited them — specifically Billy Bosworth and Patrick McFadin — to educate me. Here are some highlights of that exercise.
DataStax and Cassandra have some very impressive accounts, which don’t necessarily revolve around geo-distribution. Netflix, probably the flagship Cassandra user — since Cassandra inventor Facebook adopted HBase instead — actually hasn’t been using the geo-distribution feature. Confidential accounts include:
- A petabyte or so of data at a very prominent company, geo-distributed, with 800+ nodes, in a kind of block storage use case.
- A messaging application at a very prominent company, anticipated to grow to multiple data centers and a petabyte of so of data, across 1000s of nodes.
- A 300 terabyte single-data-center telecom account (which I can’t find on DataStax’s extensive customer list).
- A huge health records deal.
- A Fortune 10 company.
DataStax and Cassandra won’t necessarily win customer-brag wars versus MongoDB, Couchbase, or even HBase, but at least they’re strongly in the competition.
DataStax claims that simplicity is now a strength. There are two main parts to that surprising assertion. Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, Clustering, Couchbase, Data models and architecture, DataStax, Facebook, HBase, Health care, Log analysis, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB, NoSQL, Petabyte-scale data management, Specific users||10 Comments|
The 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems is out. “Operational” seems to be Gartner’s term for what I call short-request, in each case the point being that OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) is a dubious term when systems omit strict consistency, and when even strictly consistent systems may lack full transactional semantics. As is usually the case with Gartner Magic Quadrants:
- I admire the raw research.
- The opinions contained are generally reasonable (especially since Merv Adrian joined the Gartner team).
- Some of the details are questionable.
- There’s generally an excessive focus on Gartner’s perception of vendors’ business skills, and on vendors’ willingness to parrot all the buzzphrases Gartner wants to hear.
- The trends Gartner highlights are similar to those I see, although our emphasis may be different, and they may leave some important ones out. (Big omission — support for lightweight analytics integrated into operational applications, one of the more genuine forms of real-time analytics.)
Anyhow: Read more
Glassbeam checked in recently, and they turn out to exemplify quite a few of the themes I’ve been writing about. For starters:
- Glassbeam has an analytic technology stack focused on poly-structured machine-generated data.
- Glassbeam partially organizes that data into event series …
- … in a schema that is modified as needed.
Glassbeam basics include:
- Founded in 2009.
- Based in Santa Clara. Back-end engineering in Bangalore.
- $6 million in angel money; no other VC.
- High single-digit customer count, …
- … plus another high single-digit number of end customers for an OEM offering a limited version of their product.
All Glassbeam customers except one are SaaS/cloud (Software as a Service), and even that one was only offered a subscription (as oppose to perpetual license) price.
So what does Glassbeam’s technology do? Glassbeam says it is focused on “machine data analytics,” specifically for the “Internet of Things”, which it distinguishes from IT logs.* Specifically, Glassbeam sells to manufacturers of complex devices — IT (most of its sales so far ), medical, automotive (aspirational to date), etc. — and helps them analyze “phone home” data, for both support/customer service and marketing kinds of use cases. As of a recent release, the Glassbeam stack can: Read more
Hmm. I probably should have broken this out as three posts rather than one after all. Sorry about that.
Discussions of DBMS performance are always odd, for starters because:
- Workloads and use cases vary greatly.
- In particular, benchmarks such as the YCSB or TPC-H aren’t very helpful.
- It’s common for databases or at least working sets to be entirely in RAM — but it’s not always required.
- Consistency and durability models vary. What’s more, in some systems — e.g. MongoDB — there’s considerable flexibility as to which model you use.
- In particular, there’s an increasingly common choice in which data is written synchronously to RAM on 2 or more servers, then asynchronously to disk on each of them. Performance in these cases can be quite different from when all writes need to be committed to disk. Of course, you need sufficient disk I/O to keep up, so SSDs (Solid-State Drives) can come in handy.
- Many workloads are inherently single node (replication aside). Others are not.
MongoDB and 10gen
I caught up with Ron Avnur at 10gen. Technical highlights included: Read more
My clients at Couchbase checked in.
- After multiple delays, Couchbase 2.0 is well into beta, with general availability being delayed by the holiday season as much as anything else.
- Couchbase (the company) now has >350 subscription customers, almost all for Couchbase (the product) — which is to say for what was known as Membase, which is basically a persistent version of Memcached.
- There also are many users of open source Couchbase, most famously LinkedIn.
- Orbitz is a much-mentioned flagship paying Couchbase customer.
- Couchbase customers mainly seem to be replacing a caching layer, Memcached or otherwise.
- Couchbase headcount is just under 100.
The big changes in Couchbase 2.0 versus the previous (1.8.x) version are:
- JSON storage, including secondary indexes.
- Multi-data-center replication.
- A back-end change from SQLite to a heavily forked version of CouchDB, called Couchstore.
Couchbase 2.0 is upwards-compatible with prior versions of Couchbase (and hence with Memcached), but not with CouchDB.
Technology notes on Couchbase 2.0 include: Read more
|Categories: Basho and Riak, Cache, Cassandra, Clustering, Couchbase, MapReduce, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB, NoSQL, Open source, Structured documents||5 Comments|
My last post about DataStax Enterprise and Cassandra didn’t go so well. As follow-up, I chatted for two hours with Rick Branson and Billy Bosworth of DataStax. Hopefully I can do better this time around.
For starters, let me say there are three kinds of data management nodes in DataStax Enterprise:
- Vanilla Cassandra.
- Cassandra plus Solr. Solr is a superset of the text-indexing system Lucene.
- Solr adds a lot more secondary indexing to Cassandra.
- In addition, these nodes serve as Solr emulation; you can run generic Solr apps on them.
- Cassandra plus Hadoop.
- You can use Hadoop MapReduce to manipulate generic Cassandra data.
- In addition, these nodes serve as Hadoop/HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) emulation; you can run generic Hadoop apps on them.
- Hadoop jobs can interweave access to the two kinds of data structure.
Cassandra, Solr, Lucene, and Hadoop are all Apache projects.
If we look at this from the standpoint of DML (Data Manipulation Language) and data access APIs:
- Cassandra is a column-group kind of NoSQL DBMS. You can get at its data programmatically.
- There’s something called CQL (Cassandra Query Language), said to be SQL-like.
- There’s a JDBC driver for CQL.
- With Hadoop MapReduce also come Hive, Pig, and Sqoop.
- With Solr and Lucene come full-text search.
In addition, it is sometimes recommended that you use “in-entity caching”, where an entire data structure (e.g. in JSON) winds up in a single Cassandra column.
The two main ways to get direct SQL* access to data in DataStax Enterprise are:
*or very SQL-like, depending on how you view things
Before going further, let’s recall some Cassandra basics: Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, DataStax, Hadoop, MapReduce, Market share and customer counts, NoSQL, Open source, Text||6 Comments|
Edit: Multiple errors in the post below have been corrected in a follow-on post about DataStax Enterprise and Cassandra.
My client DataStax is announcing DataStax Enterprise 2.0. The big point of the release is that there’s a bunch of stuff integrated together, including at least:
- Cassandra — the NoSQL DBMS, which DataStax sometimes calls “DataStax Server”. Edit: That’s not really a fair criticism of DataStax’s messaging.
- Hadoop MapReduce, which DataStax sometimes calls “Hadoop”. Edit: That is indeed fair.
- Sqoop — the general way to connect relational DBMS to Hadoop, which DataStax sometimes calls “RDBMS integration”.
- Solr — the search-centric Apache project, or big parts of it, which DataStax generally calls either “Solr” or “Solr compatibility”.
- log4j – an Apache project that has something or other to do with logging, or parts of it, which DataStax sometimes calls “log file integration”.
- DataStax OpsCenter — some management tools and so on around Cassandra and the rest of the product line.
DataStax stresses that all this runs on the same cluster, with the same administrative tools and so on. For example, on a single cluster:
- You can manage the interactive data for a web site.
- You can store the logs for that website.
- You can analyze all of the above in Hadoop.
|Categories: Cassandra, Clustering, DataStax, EAI, EII, ETL, ELT, ETLT, Games and virtual worlds, Hadoop, Log analysis, Market share and customer counts, NoSQL, Parallelization, Text, Web analytics||5 Comments|
I checked in with James Phillips for a Couchbase update, and I understand better what’s going on. In particular:
- Give or take minor tweaks, what I wrote in my August, 2010 Couchbase updates still applies.
- Couchbase now and for the foreseeable future has one product line, called Couchbase.
- Couchbase 2.0, the first version of Couchbase (the product) to use CouchDB for persistence, has slipped …
- … because more parts of CouchDB had to be rewritten for performance than Couchbase (the company) had hoped.
- Think mid-year or so for the release of Couchbase 2.0, hopefully sooner.
- In connection with the need to rewrite parts of CouchDB, Couchbase has:
- Gotten out of the single-server CouchDB business.
- Donated its proprietary single-sever CouchDB intellectual property to the Apache Foundation.
- The 150ish new customers in 2011 Couchbase brags about are real, subscription customers.
- Couchbase has 60ish people, headed to >100 over the next few months.
|Categories: Basho and Riak, Cassandra, Couchbase, CouchDB, DataStax, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB, NoSQL, Open source, Parallelization, Web analytics, Zynga||6 Comments|