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Diversity of processing models

MPP databases are monolithic, tightly integrated pieces of software that take care of storage layout on disk, query planning, scheduling, and execution. Since these components can all be tuned and optimized for the specific needs of the database, the system as a whole can achieve very good performance on the types of queries for which it is designed. Moreover, the SQL query language allows expressive queries and elegant semantics without the need to write code, making it accessible to graphical tools used by business analysts (such as Tableau).

On the other hand, not all kinds of processing can be sensibly expressed as SQL queries. For example, if you are building machine learning and recommendation systems, or full-text search indexes with relevance ranking models, or performing image analysis, you most likely need a more general model of data processing. These kinds of processing are often very specific to a particular application (e.g., feature engineering for machine learning, natural language models for machine translation, risk estimation functions for fraud prediction), so they inevitably require writing code, not just queries.

MapReduce gave engineers the ability to easily run their own code over large datasets. If you have HDFS and MapReduce, you can build a SQL query execution engine on top of it, and indeed this is what the Hive project did [31]. However, you can also write many other forms of batch processes that do not lend themselves to being expressed as a SQL query.

Subsequently, people found that MapReduce was too limiting and performed too badly for some types of processing, so various other processing models were developed on top of Hadoop (we will see some of them in “Beyond MapReduce” on page 419). Having two processing models, SQL and MapReduce, was not enough: even more different models were needed! And due to the openness of the Hadoop plat?form, it was feasible to implement a whole range of approaches, which would not have been possible within the confines of a monolithic MPP database [58].

Crucially, those various processing models can all be run on a single shared-use cluster of machines, all accessing the same files on the distributed filesystem. In the Hadoop approach, there is no need to import the data into several different specialized systems for different kinds of processing: the system is flexible enough to support a diverse set of workloads within the same cluster. Not having to move data around makes it a lot easier to derive value from the data, and a lot easier to experiment with new processing models.

The Hadoop ecosystem includes both random-access OLTP databases such as HBase (see “SSTables and LSM-Trees” on page 76) and MPP-style analytic databases such as Impala [41]. Neither HBase nor Impala uses MapReduce, but both use HDFS for storage. They are very different approaches to accessing and processing data, but they can nevertheless coexist and be integrated in the same system.

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