Feeds

Yahoo! breeds Pig that talks elephant

Swine talk of a different kind

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

If there's one place on earth where swine talk is still met with open arms, it's Yahoo!.

Yahoo! is gradually moving its data-heavy web services onto Hadoop - that Google-inspired open-source platform for crunching epic amounts of information across a sea of distributed machines. And to grease the move, the company has developed its own Hadoop programming language. In typical Hadoop fashion, it's known as Pig.

Hadoop mimics Google's MapReduce framework, which maps data-crunching tasks across distributed machines, splitting them into tiny sub-tasks, before reducing the results into one master calculation. You can write straight to the framework in Java, but Pig aims to put MapReduce coding at a higher level.

"There was a lot of hype around [Hadoop] MapReduce and it gained a lot of traction, probably because it's a very simple low-level model," says Chris Olston, part of the Yahoo! research team that originated Pig. "But at the same time, people were writing higher-level functions over and over again."

Hadoop MapReduce, for instance, has no "join" operation - a staple of data programming - and Pig makes amends.

Hadoop founder Dave Cutting describes Pig as "SQL for MapReduce." But that description might be better applied to Hive, a high-level open-source MapReduce language first developed at Facebook. Pig sits somewhere between Hive and the low-level code of MapReduce.

"Hive is closer to SQL syntax. Pig aims for something that's more of an explicit data flow syntax" Olston tells The Reg. "We wanted to get to something where the common operations like 'join' are built-in - so you just have to write a one-line command to do a 'join' - but at the same time, it retains the explicit data flow aspect of MapReduce. It's in the sweet spot between the two."

In the end, this still puts Hadoop coding in the hands of those who may not be hardcore developers. "You have to be able to write scripts," says Olston. "But you don't have to be a full-fledged programmer."

Pig began life as an Apache Incubator project in the fall of 2007, and in October of 2008 it was accepted as an official Hadoop sub-project. About 30 per cent of all Yahoo! Hadoop jobs are now Pig jobs too, and according to Ajay Anand, director of product management for grid computing at Yahoo!, when new developers join Yahoo!'s Hadoop migration they typically choose to ride the Pig. "It's much easier to get going," he says.

According to Olga Natkovich (PowerPoint), who manages the Pig development team, the typical Pig program is about 1/20th as long as an equivalent MapReduce creation - and requires about 1/16th of the development time.

Doug Cutting - the man behind the Lucene search library and the Nutch web crawler - first developed Hadoop after Google kindly published a pair of research papers on MapReduce and its proprietary Google File System (GFS). He envisioned the project as underpinning for his open-source Nutch webcrawler, but Yahoo! soon took an interest and he's now on the company payroll.

Most notably, Hadoop runs Yahoo! Search Webmap, which provides the world’s second most popular search engine with a database of all known web pages – complete with all the metadata needed to understand them. According to Yahoo! grid guru Eric Baldeschwieler, the app draws its web map 33 per cent faster than the company's previous system.

But Hadoop also underpins various Yahoo! content and advertising services. On the content side, for instance, it now powers the real-time automated algorithms that select news stories for the Yahoo! home page.

Cutting named Hadoop after his son's yellow stuffed elephant, and animal references tend to pop in the names of sub-projects. Thus the Pig. Version 0.2.0 was released last month, and you can download it here. Need a Hadoop installation first? Go here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
ONE MILLION people already running Windows 10
A third of them are doing it in VMs, but early feedback focuses on frippery
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Do Moan! MONSTER 6-day EMAIL OUTAGE hits Domain Monster
Customers freaked out by frightful service
Ploppr: The #VultureTRENDING App of the Now
This organic crowd sourced viro- social fertiliser just got REAL
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.