You are currently viewing Orca Safety’s journey to a petabyte-scale knowledge lake with Apache Iceberg and AWS Analytics

Orca Safety’s journey to a petabyte-scale knowledge lake with Apache Iceberg and AWS Analytics

This submit is co-written with Eliad Gat and Oded Lifshiz from Orca Safety.

With knowledge changing into the driving pressure behind many industries in the present day, having a contemporary knowledge structure is pivotal for organizations to achieve success. One key part that performs a central position in fashionable knowledge architectures is the info lake, which permits organizations to retailer and analyze massive quantities of information in an economical method and run superior analytics and machine studying (ML) at scale.

Orca Safety is an industry-leading Cloud Safety Platform that identifies, prioritizes, and remediates safety dangers and compliance points throughout your AWS Cloud property. Orca connects to your atmosphere in minutes with patented SideScanning know-how to offer full protection throughout vulnerabilities, malware, misconfigurations, lateral motion danger, weak and leaked passwords, overly permissive identities, and extra.

The Orca Platform is powered by a state-of-the-art anomaly detection system that makes use of cutting-edge ML algorithms and large knowledge capabilities to detect potential safety threats and alert clients in actual time, making certain most safety for his or her cloud atmosphere. On the core of Orca’s anomaly detection system is its transactional knowledge lake, which permits the corporate’s knowledge scientists, analysts, knowledge engineers, and ML specialists to extract invaluable insights from huge quantities of information and ship revolutionary cloud safety options to its clients.

On this submit, we describe Orca’s journey constructing a transactional knowledge lake utilizing Amazon Easy Storage Service (Amazon S3), Apache Iceberg, and AWS Analytics. We discover why Orca selected to construct a transactional knowledge lake and look at the important thing concerns that guided the number of Apache Iceberg as the popular desk format.

As well as, we describe the Orca Platform structure and the applied sciences used. Lastly, we focus on the challenges encountered all through the undertaking, current the options used to handle them, and share invaluable classes discovered.

Why did Orca construct an information lake?

Previous to the creation of the info lake, Orca’s knowledge was distributed amongst varied knowledge silos, every owned by a unique staff with its personal knowledge pipelines and know-how stack. This setup led to a number of points, together with scaling difficulties as the info measurement grew, sustaining knowledge high quality, making certain constant and dependable knowledge entry, excessive prices related to storage and processing, and difficulties supporting streaming use circumstances. Furthermore, working superior analytics and ML on disparate knowledge sources proved difficult. To beat these points, Orca determined to construct an information lake.

A knowledge lake is a centralized knowledge repository that permits organizations to retailer and handle massive volumes of structured and unstructured knowledge, eliminating knowledge silos and facilitating superior analytics and ML on your entire knowledge. By decoupling storage and compute, knowledge lakes promote cost-effective storage and processing of massive knowledge.

Why did Orca select Apache Iceberg?

Orca thought of a number of desk codecs which have developed lately to assist its transactional knowledge lake. Amongst the choices, Apache Iceberg stood out as the perfect alternative as a result of it met all of Orca’s necessities.

First, Orca sought a transactional desk format that ensures knowledge consistency and fault tolerance. Apache Iceberg’s transactional and ACID ensures, which permit concurrent learn and write operations whereas making certain knowledge consistency and simplified fault dealing with, fulfill this requirement. Moreover, Apache Iceberg’s assist for time journey and rollback capabilities makes it extremely appropriate for addressing knowledge high quality points by reverting to a earlier state in a constant method.

Second, a key requirement was to undertake an open desk format that integrates with varied processing engines. This was to keep away from vendor lock-in and permit groups to decide on the processing engine that most closely fits their wants. Apache Iceberg’s engine-agnostic and open design meets this requirement by supporting all standard processing engines, together with Apache Spark, Amazon Athena, Apache Flink, Trino, Presto, and extra.

As well as, given the substantial knowledge volumes dealt with by the system, an environment friendly desk format was required that may assist querying petabytes of information very quick. Apache Iceberg’s structure addresses this want by effectively filtering and lowering scanned knowledge, leading to accelerated question instances.

A further requirement was to permit seamless schema modifications with out impacting end-users. Apache Iceberg’s vary of options, together with schema evolution, hidden partitions, and partition evolution, addresses this requirement.

Lastly, it was essential for Orca to decide on a desk format that’s extensively adopted. Apache Iceberg’s rising and lively group aligned with the requirement for a well-liked and community-backed desk format.

Answer overview

Orca’s knowledge lake relies on open-source applied sciences that seamlessly combine with Apache Iceberg. The system ingests knowledge from varied sources similar to cloud assets, cloud exercise logs, and API entry logs, and processes billions of messages, leading to terabytes of information each day. This knowledge is distributed to Apache Kafka, which is hosted on Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (Amazon MSK). It’s then processed utilizing Apache Spark Structured Streaming working on Amazon EMR and saved within the knowledge lake. Amazon EMR streamlines the method of loading all required Iceberg packages and dependencies, making certain that the info is saved in Apache Iceberg format and prepared for consumption as shortly as doable.

The info lake is constructed on prime of Amazon S3 utilizing Apache Iceberg desk format with Apache Parquet because the underlying file format. As well as, the AWS Glue Information Catalog permits knowledge discovery, and AWS Identification and Entry Administration (IAM) enforces safe entry controls for the lake and its operations.

The info lake serves as the muse for quite a lot of capabilities which are supported by completely different engines.

Information pipelines constructed on Apache Spark and Athena SQL analyze and course of the info saved within the knowledge lake. These knowledge pipelines generate invaluable insights and curated knowledge which are saved in Apache Iceberg tables for downstream utilization. This knowledge is then utilized by varied functions for streaming analytics, enterprise intelligence, and reporting.

Amazon SageMaker is used to construct, prepare, and deploy a variety of ML fashions. Particularly, the system makes use of Amazon SageMaker Processing jobs to course of the info saved within the knowledge lake, using the AWS SDK for Pandas (beforehand often called AWS Wrangler) for varied knowledge transformation operations, together with cleansing, normalization, and have engineering. This ensures that the info is appropriate for coaching functions. Moreover, SageMaker coaching jobs are employed for coaching the fashions. After the fashions are educated, they’re deployed and used to determine anomalies and alert clients in actual time to potential safety threats. The next diagram illustrates the answer structure.

Orca security Data Lake Architecture

Challenges and classes discovered

Orca confronted a number of challenges whereas constructing its petabyte-scale knowledge lake, together with:

  • Figuring out optimum desk partitioning
  • Optimizing EMR streaming ingestion for top throughput
  • Taming the small information downside for quick reads
  • Maximizing efficiency with Athena model 3
  • Sustaining Apache Iceberg tables
  • Managing knowledge retention
  • Monitoring the info lake infrastructure and operations
  • Mitigating knowledge high quality points

On this part, we describe every of those challenges and the options carried out to handle them.

Figuring out optimum desk partitioning

Figuring out optimum partitioning for every desk is essential with a view to optimize question efficiency and reduce the affect on groups querying the tables when partitioning modifications. Apache Iceberg’s hidden partitions mixed with partition transformations proved to be invaluable in reaching this objective as a result of it allowed for clear modifications to partitioning with out impacting end-users. Moreover, partition evolution permits experimentation with varied partitioning methods to optimize price and efficiency with out requiring a rewrite of the desk’s knowledge each time.

For instance, with these options, Orca was in a position to simply change a number of of its desk partitioning from DAY to HOUR with no affect on consumer queries. With out this native Iceberg functionality, they might have wanted to coordinate the brand new schema with all of the groups that question the tables and rewrite your entire knowledge, which might have been a pricey, time-consuming, and error-prone course of.

Optimizing EMR streaming ingestion for top throughput

As talked about beforehand, the system ingests billions of messages each day, leading to terabytes of information processed and saved every day. Subsequently, optimizing the EMR clusters for such a load whereas sustaining excessive throughput and low prices has been an ongoing problem. Orca addressed this in a number of methods.

First, Orca selected to make use of occasion fleets with its EMR clusters as a result of they permit optimized useful resource allocation by combining completely different occasion varieties and sizes. Occasion fleets enhance resilience by permitting a number of Availability Zones to be configured. Consequently, the cluster will launch in an Availability Zone with all of the required occasion varieties, stopping capability limitations. Moreover, occasion fleets can use each Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) On-Demand and Spot situations, leading to price financial savings.

The method of sizing the cluster for top throughput and decrease prices concerned adjusting the variety of core and job nodes, deciding on appropriate occasion varieties, and fine-tuning CPU and reminiscence configurations. In the end, Orca was capable of finding an optimum configuration consisting of on-demand core nodes and spot job nodes of various sizes, which offered excessive throughput but in addition ensured compliance with SLAs.

Orca additionally discovered that utilizing completely different Kafka Spark Structured Streaming properties, similar to minOffsetsPerTrigger, maxOffsetsPerTrigger, and minPartitions, offered increased throughput and higher management of the load. Utilizing minPartitions, which permits higher parallelism and distribution throughout a bigger variety of duties, was significantly helpful for consuming excessive lags shortly.

Lastly, when coping with a excessive knowledge ingestion charge, Amazon S3 might throttle the requests and return 503 errors. To deal with this state of affairs, Iceberg provides a desk property referred to as write.object-storage.enabled, which includes a hash prefix into the saved S3 object path. This method successfully mitigates throttling issues.

Taming the small information downside for quick reads

A standard problem usually encountered when ingesting streaming knowledge into the info lake is the creation of many small information. This will have a detrimental affect on learn efficiency when querying the info with Athena or Apache Spark. Having a excessive variety of information results in longer question planning and runtimes as a result of must course of and skim every file, leading to overhead for file system operations and community communication. Moreover, this can lead to increased prices as a result of massive variety of S3 PUT and GET requests required.

To deal with this problem, Apache Spark Structured Streaming gives the set off mechanism, which can be utilized to tune the speed at which knowledge is dedicated to Apache Iceberg tables. The commit charge has a direct affect on the variety of information being produced. As an example, a better commit charge, similar to a shorter time interval, ends in plenty of knowledge information being produced.

In sure circumstances, launching the Spark cluster on an hourly foundation and configuring the set off to AvailableNow facilitated the processing of bigger knowledge batches and decreased the variety of small information created. Though this method led to price financial savings, it did contain a trade-off of decreased knowledge freshness. Nevertheless, this trade-off was deemed acceptable for particular use circumstances.

As well as, to handle preexisting small information inside the knowledge lake, Apache Iceberg provides a knowledge information compaction operation that mixes these smaller information into bigger ones. Working this operation on a schedule is extremely really helpful to optimize the quantity and measurement of the information. Compaction additionally proves invaluable in dealing with late-arriving knowledge and permits the combination of this knowledge into consolidated information.

Maximizing efficiency with Athena model 3

Orca was an early adopter of Athena model 3, Amazon’s implementation of the Trino question engine, which gives in depth assist for Apache Iceberg. At any time when doable, Orca most well-liked utilizing Athena over Apache Spark for knowledge processing. This desire was pushed by the simplicity and serverless structure of Athena, which led to decreased prices and simpler utilization, in contrast to Spark, which generally required provisioning and managing a devoted cluster at increased prices.

As well as, Orca used Athena as a part of its mannequin coaching and because the main engine for advert hoc exploratory queries performed by knowledge scientists, enterprise analysts, and engineers. Nevertheless, for sustaining Iceberg tables and updating desk properties, Apache Spark remained the extra scalable and feature-rich possibility.

Sustaining Apache Iceberg tables

Guaranteeing optimum question efficiency and minimizing storage overhead grew to become a major problem as the info lake grew to a petabyte scale. To deal with this problem, Apache Iceberg provides a number of upkeep procedures, similar to the next:

  • Information information compaction – This operation, as talked about earlier, includes combining smaller information into bigger ones and reorganizing the info inside them. This operation not solely reduces the variety of information but in addition permits knowledge sorting primarily based on completely different columns or clustering related knowledge utilizing z-ordering. Utilizing Apache Iceberg’s compaction ends in vital efficiency enhancements, particularly for giant tables, making a noticeable distinction in question efficiency between compacted and uncompacted knowledge.
  • Expiring outdated snapshots – This operation gives a option to take away outdated snapshots and their related knowledge information, enabling Orca to take care of low storage prices.

Working these upkeep procedures effectively and cost-effectively utilizing Apache Spark, significantly the compaction operation, which operates on terabytes of information each day, requires cautious consideration. This entails appropriately sizing the Spark cluster working on EMR and adjusting varied settings similar to CPU and reminiscence.

As well as, utilizing Apache Iceberg’s metadata tables proved to be very useful in figuring out points associated to the bodily structure of Iceberg’s tables, which may straight affect question efficiency. Metadata tables supply insights into the bodily knowledge storage structure of the tables and supply the comfort of querying them with Athena model 3. By accessing the metadata tables, essential details about tables’ knowledge information, manifests, historical past, partitions, snapshots, and extra might be obtained, which aids in understanding and optimizing the desk’s knowledge structure.

As an example, the next queries can uncover invaluable details about the underlying knowledge:

  • The variety of information and their common measurement per partition:
    >SELECT partition, file_count, (total_size / file_count) AS avg_file_size FROM "db"."desk$partitions"

  • The variety of knowledge information pointed to by every manifest:
    SELECT path, added_data_files_count + existing_data_files_count AS number_of_data_files FROM "db"."desk$manifests"

  • Details about the info information:
    SELECT file_path, file_size_in_bytes FROM "db"."desk$information"

  • Info associated to knowledge completeness:
    SELECT record_count, partition FROM "db"."desk$partitions"

Managing knowledge retention

Efficient administration of information retention in a petabyte-scale knowledge lake is essential to make sure low storage prices in addition to to adjust to GDPR. Nevertheless, implementing such a course of might be difficult when coping with Iceberg knowledge saved in S3 buckets, as a result of deleting information primarily based on easy S3 lifecycle insurance policies might doubtlessly trigger desk corruption. It’s because Iceberg’s knowledge information are referenced in manifest information, so any modifications to knowledge information should even be mirrored within the manifests.

To deal with this problem, sure concerns have to be taken under consideration whereas dealing with knowledge retention correctly. Apache Iceberg gives two modes for dealing with deletes, specifically copy-on-write (CoW), and merge-on-read (MoR). In CoW mode, Iceberg rewrites knowledge information on the time of deletion and creates new knowledge information, whereas in MoR mode, as an alternative of rewriting the info information, a delete file is written that lists the place of deleted data in information. These information are then reconciled with the remaining knowledge throughout learn time.

In favor of sooner learn instances, CoW mode is preferable and when used along with the expiring outdated snapshots operation, it permits for the exhausting deletion of information information which have exceeded the set retention interval.

As well as, by storing the info sorted primarily based on the sector that shall be utilized for deletion (for instance, organizationID), it’s doable to scale back the variety of information that require rewriting. This optimization considerably enhances the effectivity of the deletion course of, leading to improved deletion instances.

Monitoring the info lake infrastructure and operations

Managing an information lake infrastructure is difficult as a result of varied elements it encompasses, together with these liable for knowledge ingestion, storage, processing, and querying.

Efficient monitoring of all these elements includes monitoring useful resource utilization, knowledge ingestion charges, question runtimes, and varied different performance-related metrics, and is important for sustaining optimum efficiency and detecting points as quickly as doable.

Monitoring Amazon EMR was essential as a result of it performed an important position within the system for knowledge ingestion, processing, and upkeep. Orca monitored the cluster standing and useful resource utilization of Amazon EMR by using the accessible metrics by Amazon CloudWatch. Moreover, it used JMX Exporter and Prometheus to scrape particular Apache Spark metrics and create customized metrics to additional enhance the pipelines’ observability.

One other problem emerged when making an attempt to additional monitor the ingestion progress by Kafka lag. Though Kafka lag monitoring is the usual methodology for monitoring ingestion progress, it posed a problem as a result of Spark Structured Streaming manages its offsets internally and doesn’t commit them again to Kafka. To beat this, Orca utilized the progress of the Spark Structured Streaming Question Listener (StreamingQueryListener) to watch the processed offsets, which had been then dedicated to a devoted Kafka shopper group for lag monitoring.

As well as, to make sure optimum question efficiency and determine potential efficiency points, it was important to watch Athena queries. Orca addressed this through the use of key metrics from Athena and the AWS SDK for Pandas, particularly TotalExecutionTime and ProcessedBytes. These metrics helped determine any degradation in question efficiency and hold observe of prices, which had been primarily based on the dimensions of the info scanned.

Mitigating knowledge high quality points

Apache Iceberg’s capabilities and general structure performed a key position in mitigating knowledge high quality challenges.

One of many methods Apache Iceberg addresses these challenges is thru its schema evolution functionality, which permits customers to change or add columns to a desk’s schema with out rewriting your entire knowledge. This function prevents knowledge high quality points that will come up as a result of schema modifications, as a result of the desk’s schema is managed as a part of the manifest information, making certain protected modifications.

Moreover, Apache Iceberg’s time journey function gives the flexibility to overview a desk’s historical past and roll again to a earlier snapshot. This performance has confirmed to be extraordinarily helpful in figuring out potential knowledge high quality points and swiftly resolving them by reverting to a earlier state with recognized knowledge integrity.

These sturdy capabilities make sure that knowledge inside the knowledge lake stays correct, constant, and dependable.


Information lakes are a necessary a part of a contemporary knowledge structure, and now it’s simpler than ever to create a strong, transactional, cost-effective, and high-performant knowledge lake through the use of Apache Iceberg, Amazon S3, and AWS Analytics providers similar to Amazon EMR and Athena.

Since constructing the info lake, Orca has noticed vital enhancements. The info lake infrastructure has allowed Orca’s platform to have seamless scalability whereas lowering the price of working its knowledge pipelines by over 50% using Amazon EMR. Moreover, question prices had been decreased by greater than 50% utilizing the environment friendly querying capabilities of Apache Iceberg and Athena model 3.

Most significantly, the info lake has made a profound affect on Orca’s platform and continues to play a key position in its success, supporting new use circumstances similar to change knowledge seize (CDC) and others, and enabling the event of cutting-edge cloud safety options.

If Orca’s journey has sparked your curiosity and you might be contemplating implementing the same resolution in your group, listed here are some strategic steps to contemplate:

  • Begin by completely understanding your group’s knowledge wants and the way this resolution can tackle them.
  • Attain out to consultants, who can offer you steering primarily based on their very own experiences. Take into account partaking in seminars, workshops, or on-line boards that debate these applied sciences. The next assets are really helpful for getting began:
  • An essential a part of this journey can be to implement a proof of idea. This hands-on expertise will present invaluable insights into the complexities of a transactional knowledge lake.

Embarking on a journey to a transactional knowledge lake utilizing Amazon S3, Apache Iceberg, and AWS Analytics can vastly enhance your group’s knowledge infrastructure, enabling superior analytics and machine studying, and unlocking insights that drive innovation.

Concerning the Authors

Eliad Gat is a Large Information & AI/ML Architect at Orca Safety. He has over 15 years of expertise designing and constructing large-scale cloud-native distributed techniques, specializing in huge knowledge, analytics, AI, and machine studying.

Oded Lifshiz is a Principal Software program Engineer at Orca Safety. He enjoys combining his ardour for delivering revolutionary, data-driven options together with his experience in designing and constructing large-scale machine studying pipelines.

Yonatan Dolan is a Principal Analytics Specialist at Amazon Net Companies. He’s positioned in Israel and helps clients harness AWS analytical providers to leverage knowledge, acquire insights, and derive worth. Yonatan additionally leads the Apache Iceberg Israel group.

Carlos Rodrigues is a Large Information Specialist Options Architect at Amazon Net Companies. He helps clients worldwide construct transactional knowledge lakes on AWS utilizing open desk codecs like Apache Hudi and Apache Iceberg.

Sofia Zilberman is a Sr. Analytics Specialist Options Architect at Amazon Net Companies. She has a observe file of 15 years of making large-scale, distributed processing techniques. She stays enthusiastic about huge knowledge applied sciences and structure tendencies, and is continually looking out for useful and technological improvements.

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