Top five reasons you should adopt Cloud MapReduce

There are a lot of MapReduce implementations out there, including the popular Hadoop project. So why would you want to adopt a new implementation like Cloud MapReduce? I list the top five reasons here.

1. No single failure point.

Almost all other MapReduce implementations adopted a master/slave architecture as described in Google’s MapReduce paper. The master node presents a single point of failure. Even though there are secondary nodes, failure recovery is still a hassle at best. For example, in the Hadoop implementation, the secondary node only keeps a log. When the primary master fails, you have to bring back up the primary, then replay the log file in the secondary master. Many enterprise clients we work with simply cannot accept a single point of failure for their critical data.

2. Single storage location.

When running MapReduce in a cloud, most people store their data permanently in the cloud storage (e.g., Amazon S3), and copy over their data to the Hadoop file system before they start the analysis. The copy stage not only wastes valueable time, but it is also a hassle to maintain two copies of the same data. In comparison, Cloud MapReduce stores everything in a single location (e.g., Amazon S3) and all accesses during analysis go directly to the storage location. In our test, Amazon S3 can sustain a high throughput and it is not a bottleneck in analysis.

3. No cluster configuration.

Unlike other MapReduce implementations, you do not have to setup a cluster first, e.g., setup a master and then add in slaves. You simply launch a number of machines and each will be working away on the job. Further, there is no hassle when you need to dynamically reconfigure your cluster. If you feel the job progress is too slow, you can simply launch more machines, and they will join the computation right away. No complicated cluster reconfiguration is needed.

4. Simple to change.

Some applications do not fit the MapReduce programming model. One can try to change the application to fit the rigid programming model, which will result in either inefficiency or complicated change or setup on the framework (e.g., Hadoop). With Cloud MapReduce, you can easily change the framework to suit your needs. Since there are only 3,000 lines of code, it is easy to change.

5. Higher performance.

Cloud MapReduce is faster than Hadoop in our study. The exact speed up really depends on the application. In one representative case, we saw a 60x speedup. This is neither the maximum nor the minimum speedup you can get. We could massage the data (e.g., having more and even smaller files) to show a much bigger speedup, but we decide to make the experiment more realistic (uses the “reverse index” application — the application the MapReduce framework was designed for — and a public set of data to enable easy replication). One may argue that the comparison is unfair becasue Hadoop is not designed to handle small files. It is true that we can apply bandit to Hadoop to close the gap, but the experiment is really a scaled down version of a large-scale test with many large files and many slave nodes. The experiment highlights a bottleneck in the master/slave architecture that you will eventually encounter. Even without hitting the scalability bottleneck, Cloud MapReduce is faster than Hadoop. The detailed reasons are listed in the paper.

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