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Rebuilding state after a failure

Any stream process that requires state—for example, any windowed aggregations (such as counters, averages, and histograms) and any tables and indexes used for joins—must ensure that this state can be recovered after a failure.

One option is to keep the state in a remote datastore and replicate it, although having to query a remote database for each individual message can be slow, as discussed in

“Stream-table join (stream enrichment)” on page 473. An alternative is to keep state local to the stream processor, and replicate it periodically. Then, when the stream processor is recovering from a failure, the new task can read the replicated state and resume processing without data loss.

For example, Flink periodically captures snapshots of operator state and writes them to durable storage such as HDFS [92, 93]; Samza and Kafka Streams replicate state changes by sending them to a dedicated Kafka topic with log compaction, similar to change data capture [84, 100]. VoltDB replicates state by redundantly processing each input message on several nodes (see “Actual Serial Execution” on page 252).

In some cases, it may not even be necessary to replicate the state, because it can be rebuilt from the input streams. For example, if the state consists of aggregations over a fairly short window, it may be fast enough to simply replay the input events corresponding to that window. If the state is a local replica of a database, maintained by change data capture, the database can also be rebuilt from the log-compacted change stream (see “Log compaction” on page 456).

However, all of these trade-offs depend on the performance characteristics of the underlying infrastructure: in some systems, network delay may be lower than disk access latency, and network bandwidth may be comparable to disk bandwidth. There is no universally ideal trade-off for all situations, and the merits of local versus remote state may also shift as storage and networking technologies evolve.

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