6 minute read · February 1, 2024

How Dremio delivers fast Queries on Object Storage: Apache Arrow, Reflections, and the Columnar Cloud Cache

Alex Merced

Alex Merced · Senior Tech Evangelist, Dremio

Dremio is a pioneering data lakehouse platform, renowned for its high-speed query engine. What sets Dremio apart is its ability to execute queries directly on data lake storage, eliminating the need to transfer data to other systems. This capability is powered by cutting-edge technologies like Apache Arrow, reflections, and the Columnar Cloud Cache (C3).

Dremio's architecture is designed for scalability. Whether scaling horizontally by adding more instances or vertically with different-sized engines, Dremio offers unparalleled scalability. This flexibility ensures that businesses of all sizes can harness the power of their data without the limitations of traditional data management systems. The result is a platform that accelerates data queries and enhances data analytics operations' overall efficiency and performance.

Apache Arrow: Revolutionizing In-Memory Data Processing

At the heart of Dremio's high-speed data processing capabilities lies Apache Arrow, a standard in-memory columnar format. Apache Arrow excels in fast in-memory data processing, enabling quick loading data from formats like Apache Parquet. This rapid data processing is crucial for businesses that require real-time analytics and insights.

One of the most significant advantages of Apache Arrow is the Apache Arrow Flight protocol. This protocol revolutionizes the transport of columnar data between systems. Unlike traditional data transfer methods that require serialization and deserialization between columnar and row-based formatting, Arrow Flight enables end-to-end transport of columnar Arrow data. This approach dramatically increases performance over conventional JDBC/ODBC connections, making data transfers faster and more efficient.

Reflections: Optimizing Data Queries with Intelligent Representations

Reflections in Dremio are a game-changer for data querying. They allow the creation of optimized representations of datasets or views in any Dremio-connected source. These representations are materialized as Iceberg tables on your data lake and are highly customizable. Users can choose which columns to materialize, how to partition and sort the data, and what measures or dimensions to store for aggregation results.

The power of reflections lies in Dremio's intelligent query engine. When a dataset or any view created from it is queried, Dremio can intelligently determine if any available reflections can be used to speed up the query. This means that the entire query or portions can be executed more efficiently. Furthermore, with the introduction of incremental reflection refresh and the reflection recommender, Dremio enhances the freshness of reflections and suggests optimizations based on your query patterns. This improves query performance and ensures that the data remains up to date and relevant.

The Columnar Cloud Cache (C3): Enhancing Performance with In-Memory Caching

The Columnar Cloud Cache (C3) is a key feature in Dremio's architecture, designed to boost query performance dramatically. C3 is an in-memory cache located on the Dremio cluster nodes, which plays a critical role in managing frequently accessed data. Caching this data on the nodes' NVMe storage, C3 effectively reduces the need to repeatedly fetch data from object storage.

This caching mechanism offers two primary benefits. First, it significantly cuts down the network request costs, as less data needs to be transferred over the network. Second, it enhances query performance by providing faster access to frequently used data. The in-memory nature of C3 means that data retrieval is much quicker compared to fetching it from remote object storage, leading to a noticeable improvement in query response times.

Summary: Realizing Cost-Effective and Efficient Data Management

Integrating technologies like Apache Arrow, reflections, and the Columnar Cloud Cache (C3) in Dremio's platform brings a new era in query performance on the data lake. The benefits of these technologies extend beyond just improved query performance; they contribute to a more cost-effective and efficient data management strategy.

Faster query speeds mean that compute resources are utilized more efficiently, leading to a reduction in compute costs as less time and power are needed to process data. Moreover, the reduced need for data transfer and the efficient use of network resources contribute to lower network costs.

Additionally, Dremio's ability to query data directly on data lake object storage opens up new possibilities for data utilization. It reduces the need for expensive data warehousing solutions, allowing organizations to do more with their data without incurring additional costs.

In conclusion, Dremio's innovative approach to data querying and management elevates performance and aligns with the cost and efficiency needs of modern businesses. By leveraging these advanced technologies, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data, making data-driven decisions faster, more effectively, and more economically sustainable.

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