Team KerData

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Scientific Foundations
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Section: Scientific Foundations

Emerging programming models for scalable data-management

MapReduce is a parallel programming paradigm successfully used by large Internet service providers to perform computations on massive amounts of data. A computation takes a set of input key/value pairs, and produces a set of output key/value pairs. The user of the MapReduce library expresses the computation as two functions: map , that processes a key/value pair to generate a set of intermediate key/value pairs, and reduce , that merges all intermediate values associated with the same intermediate key. The framework takes care of splitting the input data, scheduling the jobs' component tasks, monitoring them and re-executing the failed ones. After being strongly promoted by Google, it has also been implemented by the open source community through the Hadoop project, maintained by the Apache Foundation, and supported by Yahoo! and even by Google itself. This model is currently getting more and more popular as a solution for rapid implementation of distributed data-intensive applications. The key strength of the Map/Reduce model is its inherently high degree of potential parallelism that should enable processing of petabytes of data in a couple of hours on large clusters consisting of several thousands of nodes.

At the core of the Map/Reduce frameworks stays a key component: the storage layer. To enable massively parallel data processing to a high degree over a large number of nodes, the storage layer must meet a series of specific requirements. Firstly, since data is stored in huge files, the computation will have to efficiently process small parts of these huge files concurrently. Thus, the storage layer is expected to provide efficient fine-grain access to the files. Secondly, the storage layer must be able to sustain a high throughput in spite of heavy access concurrency to the same file, as thousands of clients simultaneously access data.

These critical needs of data-intensive distributed applications have not been addressed by classical, POSIX-compliant distributed file systems. Therefore, specialized file systems have been designed, such as HDFS, the default storage layer of Hadoop. HDFS has however some difficulties in sustaining a high throughput in the case of concurrent accesses to the same file. Amazon's cloud computing initiative, Elastic MapReduce, employs Hadoop on their Elastic Compute Cloud infrastructure (EC2) and inherits these limitations. The storage backend used by Hadoop is Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), which provides limited support for concurrent accesses to shared data. Moreover, many desirable features are missing altogether, such as the support for versioning and for concurrent updates to the same file. Finally, another important requirement for the storage layer is its ability to expose an interface that enables the application to be data-location aware . This is critical in order to allow the scheduler to use this information to place computation tasks close to the data and thus reduce network traffic, contributing to a better global data throughput.


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