I’m playing with a lot of rather large data sets. I’ve just been informed recently that these data sets are child’s play, because I’ve only been exposed to the outermost layer of the onion. The amount of data I *will* have access to (a nice way of saying “I’ll be required to wrangle and munge”) is many times bigger. Someone read an article about how easy it is to get Hadoop up and running on Amazon’s EC2 service, and next thing you know, there’s an email saying “hey, we can move this data to S3, access it from EC2, run it through that cool Python code you’ve been working with, and distribute the processing through Hadoop! Yay! And it looks pretty straightforward! Get on that!”
Oh joyous day.
I’d like to ask that people who find success with Hadoop+EC2+S3 stop writing documentation that make this procedure appear to beÂ “straightforward”. It’s not.
One thing that *is* cool, for Python programmers, is that you actually don’t have to write Java to use Hadoop. You can write your map and reduce code in Python and use it just fine.
I’m not blaming Hadoop or EC2 really, because after a full day of banging my head on this I’m still not quite sure which one is at fault. I *did* read a forum post that someone had a similar problem to the one I wound up with, and it turned out to be a bug in Amazon’s SOAP API, which is used by the Amazon EC2 command line tools. So things just don’t work when that happens. Tip 1: if you have an issue, don’t assume you’re not getting something. Bugs appear to be fairly common.
Ok, so tonight I decided “I’ll just skip the whole hadoop thing, and let’s see how loghetti runs on some bigger iron than my macbook pro”. I moved a test log to S3, fired up an EC2 instance, ssh’d right in, and there I am… no data in sight, and no obvious way to get at it. This surprised me, because I thought that S3 and EC2 were much more closely related. After all, Amazon Machine Images (used to fire up said instance) are stored on S3. So where’s my “s3-copy” command? Or better yet, why can’t I just *mount* an s3 volume without having to install a bunch of stuff?
This goes down as one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to set up. It kinda reminds me of the time I had to set up a beowulf cluster of about 85 nodes using donated, out-of-warranty PC hardware. I spent what seemed like months just trying to get the thing to boot. Once I got over the hump, it ran like a top, but it was a non-trivial hump.
As of now, it looks like I’ll probably need to actually install my own image. A good number of the available public images are older versions of Linux distros for some reason. Maybe people have orphaned them and gone to greener pastures. Maybe they’re in production and haven’t seen a need to change them in any way. I’ll be registering a clean install image with the stuff I need and trudge onward.