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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Building TimeSeries Databases

Spent much of our careers working with timeseries data in supply chain analysis...

Not enough metadata considered?    

Always-on Time-Series Database: Keeping Up Where There's No Way to Catch Up  By Theo Schlossnagle, Justin Sheehy, Chris McCubbin

Communications of the ACM, July 2021, Vol. 64 No. 7, Pages 50-56  10.1145/3442518

In all likelihood, you have never given so much as a thought to what it might take to produce your own database. And you will probably never find yourself in a situation where you need to do anything of the sort.

But, if only as a thought exercise, consider this for a moment: What if, as a core business requirement, you found you needed to provide for the capture of data from disconnected operations, such that updates might be made by different parties at the same time—or in overlapping time—without conflicts? And what if your service called for you to receive massive volumes of data almost continuously throughout the day, such that you couldn't really afford to interrupt data ingest at any point for fear of finding yourself so far behind present state that there would be almost no way to catch up? Given all that, are there any commercially available databases out there you could use to meet those requirements?

Right. So, where would that leave you? And what would you do then? We wanted to explore these questions with Theo Schlossnagle, who did, in fact, build his own time-series database. As the founder and CTO of Circonus, an organization that performs telemetry analysis on an already large and exponentially growing number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, Schlossnagle had good reason to make that investment.

Justin Sheehy, the chief architect of global performance and operations for Akamai, asks Schlossnagle about the thinking behind that effort and some of the key decisions made in the course of building the database, as well as what has been learned along the way. On behalf of ACM, Chris McCubbin, a senior applied scientist with Amazon Web Services, contributes to the discussion.

JUSTIN SHEEHY: As someone who once made the dubious decision to write my own database, I know it can prove to be the right thing to do, but—for most companies—I don't think it turns out that way. This isn't just a business question, but one that also has some interesting engineering dimensions to it. So, Theo, why did you feel the need to write your own time-series database?  .... 

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