Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Sandi Mappic, Pat Romanski, Greg O'Connor, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

Quick MapReduce with beanstalkd

At ProjectLocker, we operate a polyglot environment with a heavy Ruby bias. While we love Ruby and Rails, one of the drawbacks of Ruby is its Global VM Lock. In a nutshell, the Global VM Lock makes it harder to write Ruby code that can fully utilize a modern multi-core server. For Web applications, this isn’t a problem because the web server manages multiple processes for you (e.g. via Passenger). However, for offline processes, parallelism doesn’t come for free.

I was recently working on a project that involved the offline batch processing of lots of data. This project has been operating successfully for some time, but the data set has grown, causing the process to need more more time to complete than we’d like. So I dove in to see what we could do to speed it up. Fortunately, the process was still single-threaded, so we knew we’d be able to inject concurrency to increase throughput without adding hardware.

The job in question runs on a fairly well-equipped server, but the server was underutilized due to the process being serial. Here’s an outline of the initial code:

def main_job
  for retrieve_giant_dataset().each do |item|
    long_process(item)
  end

  summarize_results(retrieve_all_results()) 
end

def long_process(item)
  # Do some work on item that uses a lot of CPU time.
  item.save
end

That approach gets the job done, but I wanted to parallelize it. Conceptually, I wanted to transform the main_job method so that it looked something like this:

def main_job
  threads = []
  for retrieve_giant_dataset().each do |item|
    threads << Thread.new(item) do
      long_process(item)
    end
  end

  threads.each { |t| t.join }

  summarize_results(retrieve_all_results()) 
end

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy due to the aforementioned Global VM Lock. What I needed was a way to get my threads running on a bunch of independent processes. This is a problem tailor-made for a job queueing system. Enter beanstalkd, a simple & fast work queue. We paired beanstalkd with Stalker, a DSL that makes it easy to queue and process jobs from Ruby. Integrating these two was a cinch. Here’s what the restructured code looks like now:

def main_job
  for retrieve_giant_dataset().each do |item|
    Stalker.enqueue(JOB_NAME, :id => item.id)
  end

  beaneater = Beaneater::Pool.new(['localhost:11300'])
  tube = beaneater.tubes.find TUBE_NAME
  while tube.peek(:ready)
    sleep(5)
  end

  summarize_results(retrieve_all_results()) 
end

So instead of processing each item during the loop, now we just add each to the beanstalkd queue. Once we finish queueing all of the items, we wait until all of our entries have been processed by the worker processes. The workers are initiated via a jobs.rb file that looks something like this:

include Stalker
  
job JOB_NAME do |args|
  item = ItemClass.find(args['id'])
  Worker::long_process(item) 
end

We then start beanstalkd and a few worker processes and we’re off to the races. Now our job runs in parallel via multiple processes, and we can tune the number of worker processes we run to consume as much of the machine’s resources as we like. As a bonus, we can also run Stalker workers on other machines in our cluster for added parallelism. With just a few minor tweaks to our code, we’ve gone from single-threaded to a solution that is limited only by the capacity of the shared database used. Sweet!

What about the MapReduce reference in the title of this post? The MapReduce algorithm basically has two steps. In the Map step, you divide the work and assign it to worker nodes. The Reduce step simply combines the results of each individual node’s computation into an aggregate result. In our solution here, the Map step is done by us enqueuing our jobs into beanstalkd and then beanstalkd making the jobs available for consumption by our nodes. Our database serves to communicate the details of the jobs, and stands in for a shared filesystem like the HDFS used by Hadoop. I didn’t go into detail about this step, but our Reduce is also assisted by database aggregates; we’re able to construct a few simple queries that get us what we want from the database.

So there it is, distributed MapReduce for Ruby using beanstalkd, Stalker, and a healthy database. This is probably not the best solution if you need to scale to thousands or tens of thousands of workers. But if you just need to get tens of workers running in parallel quickly, you may be able to adapt this approach to fit your needs.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Damon Young

Damon Young is Director of Sales at ProjectLocker.com. ProjectLocker was founded in 2003 to provide on-demand tools for software developers. Guided by the simple mission of helping companies build better software, ProjectLocker's services have expanded to include services for the complete lifecycle of software projects, from requirements documentation to build and test automation. ProjectLocker serves companies from startups to Fortune 1000 multinationals.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
APIs came about to help companies create and manage their digital ecosystem, enabling them not only to reach more customers through more devices, but also create a large supporting ecosystem of developers and partners. While Facebook, Twitter and Netflix were the early adopters of APIs, large enterprises have been quick to embrace the concept of APIs and have been leveraging APIs as a connective tissue that powers all interactions between their customers, partners and employees. As enterprises embrace APIs, some very specific Enterprise API Adoption patterns and best practices have started emerging. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will talk about the most common enterprise API patterns and will discuss how enterprises can successfully launch an API program.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
Today, developers and business units are leading the charge to cloud computing. The primary driver: faster access to computing resources by using the cloud's automated infrastructure provisioning. However, fast access to infrastructure exposes the next friction point: creating, delivering, and operating applications much faster. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Bernard Golden, VP of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss why solving the next friction point is critical for true cloud computing success and how developers and business units can leverage service catalogs, frameworks, and DevOps to achieve the true goal of IT: delivering increased business value through applications.
MapDB is an Apache-licensed open source database specifically designed for Java developers. The library uses the standard Java Collections API, making it totally natural for Java developers to use and adopt, while scaling database size from GBs to TBs. MapDB is very fast and supports an agile approach to data, allowing developers to construct flexible schemas to exactly match application needs and tune performance, durability and caching for specific requirements.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.