Book Image

Learning Hadoop 2

Book Image

Learning Hadoop 2

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (18 chapters)
Learning Hadoop 2
About the Authors
About the Reviewers

Components of Hadoop

The broad Hadoop umbrella project has many component subprojects, and we'll discuss several of them in this book. At its core, Hadoop provides two services: storage and computation. A typical Hadoop workflow consists of loading data into the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and processing using the MapReduce API or several tools that rely on MapReduce as an execution framework.

Hadoop 1: HDFS and MapReduce

Both layers are direct implementations of Google's own GFS and MapReduce technologies.

Common building blocks

Both HDFS and MapReduce exhibit several of the architectural principles described in the previous section. In particular, the common principles are as follows:

  • Both are designed to run on clusters of commodity (that is, low to medium specification) servers

  • Both scale their capacity by adding more servers (scale-out) as opposed to the previous models of using larger hardware (scale-up)

  • Both have mechanisms to identify and work around failures

  • Both provide most of their services transparently, allowing the user to concentrate on the problem at hand

  • Both have an architecture where a software cluster sits on the physical servers and manages aspects such as application load balancing and fault tolerance, without relying on high-end hardware to deliver these capabilities


HDFS is a filesystem, though not a POSIX-compliant one. This basically means that it does not display the same characteristics as that of a regular filesystem. In particular, the characteristics are as follows:

  • HDFS stores files in blocks that are typically at least 64 MB or (more commonly now) 128 MB in size, much larger than the 4-32 KB seen in most filesystems

  • HDFS is optimized for throughput over latency; it is very efficient at streaming reads of large files but poor when seeking for many small ones

  • HDFS is optimized for workloads that are generally write-once and read-many

  • Instead of handling disk failures by having physical redundancies in disk arrays or similar strategies, HDFS uses replication. Each of the blocks comprising a file is stored on multiple nodes within the cluster, and a service called the NameNode constantly monitors to ensure that failures have not dropped any block below the desired replication factor. If this does happen, then it schedules the making of another copy within the cluster.


MapReduce is an API, an execution engine, and a processing paradigm; it provides a series of transformations from a source into a result dataset. In the simplest case, the input data is fed through a map function and the resultant temporary data is then fed through a reduce function.

MapReduce works best on semistructured or unstructured data. Instead of data conforming to rigid schemas, the requirement is instead that the data can be provided to the map function as a series of key-value pairs. The output of the map function is a set of other key-value pairs, and the reduce function performs aggregation to collect the final set of results.

Hadoop provides a standard specification (that is, interface) for the map and reduce phases, and the implementation of these are often referred to as mappers and reducers. A typical MapReduce application will comprise a number of mappers and reducers, and it's not unusual for several of these to be extremely simple. The developer focuses on expressing the transformation between the source and the resultant data, and the Hadoop framework manages all aspects of job execution and coordination.

Better together

It is possible to appreciate the individual merits of HDFS and MapReduce, but they are even more powerful when combined. They can be used individually, but when they are together, they bring out the best in each other, and this close interworking was a major factor in the success and acceptance of Hadoop 1.

When a MapReduce job is being planned, Hadoop needs to decide on which host to execute the code in order to process the dataset most efficiently. If the MapReduce cluster hosts are all pulling their data from a single storage host or array, then this largely doesn't matter as the storage system is a shared resource that will cause contention. If the storage system was more transparent and allowed MapReduce to manipulate its data more directly, then there would be an opportunity to perform the processing closer to the data, building on the principle of it being less expensive to move processing than data.

The most common deployment model for Hadoop sees the HDFS and MapReduce clusters deployed on the same set of servers. Each host that contains data and the HDFS component to manage the data also hosts a MapReduce component that can schedule and execute data processing. When a job is submitted to Hadoop, it can use the locality optimization to schedule data on the hosts where data resides as much as possible, thus minimizing network traffic and maximizing performance.