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Hard Problems In Stream Processing

Kartik Paramasivam discusses tough issues within the Lambda architecture:

During a data center failover like the exampleabove, we could have a “late arrival,” i.e. the stream processor might see the AdClickEvent possibly a few minutes after the AdViewEvent. A poorly written stream processor might deduce that the ad was a low-quality ad when instead the ad might have actually been good. Another anomaly is that the stream processor might see the AdClickEvent before it sees the corresponding AdViewEvent. To ensure that the output of the stream processor is correct there has to be logic to handle this “out of order message arrival.”

In the example above, the geo-distributed nature of the data centers makes it easy to explain the delays. However delays can exist even within the same data center due to GC issues, Kafka cluster upgrades, partition rebalances, and other naturally occurring distributed system phenomena.

This is a pretty long article and absolutely worth a read if you are looking at streaming data.