Characterization of a Big Data Storage Workload in the Cloud

International Conference on Performance Engineering, Mumbai, India, April, 2019

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The proliferation of big-data processing platforms has led to radically different system designs, such as MapReduce and the newer Spark. Understanding the workloads of such systems enables tuning and could foster new designs. However, whereas MapReduce workloads have been characterized extensively, relatively little public knowledge exists about the characteristics of Spark workloads in representative environments. To address this problem, in this work we collect and analyze a long-term Spark workload from a major provider of big-data processing services, Databricks. Our analysis focuses on a number of key features, such as the long-term trends of reads and modifications, the statistical properties of reads, and the popularity of clusters and of file formats. Overall, we present numerous findings that could form the basis of new systems studies and designs. Our quantitative evidence and its analysis suggest the existence of daily and weekly load imbalances, of heavy-tailed and bursty behaviour, of the relative rarity of modifications, and of proliferation of big data specific formats.