Azure And The Kappa Architecture

Jared Zagelbaum describes the Kappa architecture and points out how there’s limited built-in support in Azure for it:

You can’t support kappa architecture using native cloud services. Cloud providers, including Azure, didn’t design streaming services with kappa in mind. The cost of running streams with TTL greater than 24 hours is more expensive, and generally, the max TTL tops out around 7 days. If you want to run kappa, you’re going to have to run Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which adds more administration to your architecture. So, what might this look like in Azure?

Read the whole thing.

Lambda Architecture In Azure

Jared Zagelbaum describes the Lambda architecture pattern and explains how you can use tooling in Azure to implement it:

Lambda is an organic result of the limitations of existing tools. Distributed systems architects and developers commonly criticize its complexity – and rightly so. Those of us that have worked extensively in Extract-Transform-Load and symmetric multiprocessing systems see red flags when code is replicated in multiple services. Ensuring data quality and code conformity across multiple systems, whether massively parallel processing (MPP) or symmetrically parallel system (SMP), has the same best practice: the least amount of times you reproduce code is always the correct number of times.

We reproduce code in lambda because different services in MPP systems are better at different tasks. The maturity of tools historically hasn’t allowed us to process streams and batch in a single tool. This is starting to change, with Apache Spark emerging as a single preferred compute service for stream and batch querying, hence the timing of Azure Databricks. However, on the storage side, what was meant to be an immutable store that is the data lake in practice, can become the dreaded swamp when governance or testing fails; which is not uncommon. A fundamentally different assumption to how we process data is required to combat this degradation. Enter: the kappa architecture, which we’ll examine in the next post of this series.

Interesting reading.

Data Lake Zones

Melissa Coates walks us through the different layers of a data lake:

As we are approaching the end of 2017, many people have resolutions or goals for the new year. How about a goal to get organized…in your data lake?

The most important aspect of organizing a data lake is optimal data retrieval.

Click through for a great visual showing the various zones in a data lake.

Functional Programming And Microservices

Bobby Calderwood might win me over on microservices with talk like this:

This view of microservices shares much in common with object-oriented programming: encapsulated data access and mutable state change are both achieved via synchronous calls, the web of such calls among services forming a graph of dependencies. Programmers can and should enjoy a lively debate about OO’s merits and drawbacks for organizing code within a single memory and process space. However, when the object-oriented analogy is extended to distributed systems, many problems arise: latency which grows with the depth of the dependency graph, temporal liveness coupling, cascading failures, complex and inconsistent read-time orchestration, data storage proliferation and fragmentation, and extreme difficulty in reasoning about the state of the system at any point in time.

Luckily, another programming style analogy better fits the distributed case: functional programming. Functional programming describes behavior not in terms of in-place mutation of objects, but in terms of the immutable input and output values of pure functions. Such functions may be organized to create a dataflow graph such that when the computation pipeline receives a new input value, all downstream intermediate and final values are reactively computed. The introduction of such input values into this reactive dataflow pipeline forms a logical clock that we can use to reason consistently about the state of the system as of a particular input event, especially if the sequence of input, intermediate, and output values is stored on a durable, immutable log.

It’s an interesting analogy.

Caching Strategy

Kevin Gessner explains some caching concepts used at Etsy:

A major drawback of modulo hashing is that the size of the cache pool needs to be stable over time.  Changing the size of the cache pool will cause most cache keys to hash to a new server.  Even though the values are still in the cache, if the key is distributed to a different server, the lookup will be a miss.  That makes changing the size of the cache pool—to make it larger or for maintenance—an expensive and inefficient operation, as performance will suffer under tons of spurious cache misses.

For instance, if you have a pool of 4 hosts, a key that hashes to 500 will be stored on pool member 500 % 4 == 0, while a key that hashes to 1299 will be stored on pool member 1299 % 4 == 3.  If you grow your cache by adding a fifth host, the cache pool calculated for each key may change. The key that hashed to 500 will still be found on pool member 500 % 5 == 0, but the key that hashed to 1299 be on pool member 1299 % 5 == 4. Until the new pool member is warmed up, your cache hit rate will suffer, as the cache data will suddenly be on the ‘wrong’ host. In some cases, pool changes can cause more than half of your cached data to be assigned to a different host, slashing the efficiency of the cache temporarily. In the case of going from 4 to 5 hosts, only 20% of cache keys will be on the same host as before!

It’s interesting reading.

Microservices With Kafka Streams

Ben Stopford walks us through a microservices architecture built on top of Kafka:

So we can use the Kafka Streams API to piece together complex business systems as a collection of asynchronously executing, event-driven services. The differentiator here is the API itself, which is far richer than, say, the Kafka Producer or Consumer. It makes code more readable, provides reusable implementations of common patterns like joins, aggregates, and filters and wraps the whole ecosystem with a transparent level of correctness.

Systems built in this way, in the real world, come in a variety of guises. They can be fine grained and fast executing, completing in the context of an HTTP request, or complex and long-running, manipulating the stream of events that map a whole company’s business flow. This post focusses on the former, building up a real-world example of a simple order management system that executes within the context of a HTTP request, and is entirely built with Kafka Streams. Each service is a small function, with well-defined inputs and outputs. As we build this ecosystem up, we will encounter problems such as blending streams and tables, reading our own writes, and managing consistency in a distributed and autonomous environment.

This post stays high-level and covers a lot of ground.  I’m wishy-washy on the idea of microservices, but if you are going to do them, it’s better to do them right.

Thinking About Slowly Degrading Page Performance

Ritesh Maheshwari talks about how LinkedIn deals with performance regressions:

Looking at the chart above, where the dotted red line is a reference point to show where we started the year, notice how site speed improvements tend to be significant and noticeable, as they are optimization-driven. Degradations, however, can generally be of any “amount,” as they happen for various reasons. LinkedIn’s page-serving pipeline has many moving parts. We deploy code multiple times per day, operate a micro-service architecture with hundreds of services, and infrastructure upgrades are frequent. A slowdown in any of these components can cause degradations.

While large degradations can be caught using A/B testingcanary analysis, or anomaly detection, small ones tend to leak to production. Thus, performance of a page has a tendency to always degrade over time.

This led to having the centralized Performance Team focus on identifying these leaks, called “site speed regressions,” and to craft tools and processes to fix them.

It’s an interesting principle.  I could see this principle work for tracking database performance degradation as well.

Page Ranking With Kafka Streams

Hunter Kelly walks through a page ranking algorithm:

Once you have the adjacency matrix, you perform some straightforward matrix calculations to calculate a vector of Hub scores and a vector of Authority scores as follows:

  • Sum across the columns and normalize, this becomes your Hub vector
  • Multiply the Hub vector element-wise across the adjacency matrix
  • Sum down the rows and normalize, this becomes your Authority vector
  • Multiply the Authority vector element-wise down the the adjacency matrix
  • Repeat

An important thing to note is that the algorithm is iterative: you perform the steps above until  eventually you reach convergence—that is, the vectors stop changing—and you’re done. For our purposes, we just pick a set number of iterations, execute them, and then accept the results from that point.  We’re mostly interested in the top entries, and those tend to stabilize pretty quickly.

This is an architectural-level post, so there’s no code but there is a useful discussion of the algorithm.

Predicting Advertising Budgets With Kafka Streams

Boyang Chen explains how Pinterest uses Kafka Streams to reduce advertising overdelivery:

Overdelivery occurs when free ads are shown for out-of-budget advertisers. This reduces opportunities for advertisers with available budget to have their products and services discovered by potential customers.

Overdelivery is a difficult problem to solve for two reason:

  1. Real-time spend data: Information about ad impressions needs to be fed back into the system within seconds in order to shut down out-of-budget campaigns.

  2. Predictive spend: Fast, historical spend data isn’t enough. The system needs to be able to predict spend that might occur in the future and slow down campaigns close to reaching their budget. That’s because an inserted ad could remain available to be acted on by a user. This makes the spend information difficult to accurately measure in a short timeframe. Such a natural delay is inevitable, and the only thing we can be sure of is the ad insertion event.

This is a very interesting architectural overview.

Using Kafka To Drive Machine Learning

Kai Waehner has a nice architectural post on using Kafka as the focal point for machine learning training and prediction:

The essence of this architecture is that it uses Kafka as an intermediary between the various data sources from which feature data is collected, the model building environment where the model is fit, and the production application that serves predictions.

Feature data is pulled into Kafka from the various apps and databases that host it. This data is used to build models. The environment for this will vary based on the skills and preferred toolset of the team. The model building could be a data warehouse, a big data environment like Spark or Hadoop, or a simple server running python scripts. The model can be published where the production app that gets the same model parameters can apply it to incoming examples (perhaps using Kafka Streams to help index the feature data for easy usage on demand). The production app can either receive data from Kafka as a pipeline or even be a Kafka Streams application itself.

This is approximately 80% of my interests wrapped up in one post, so of course I’m going to read it…

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