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Re: Reaper as cassandra-admin


I and the rest of the Netflix Cassandra team share Dinesh's concerns. I was
excited to work on this project precisely because we were taking only the
best designs, techniques, and functionality out of the community sidecars
such as Priam, Reaper, and any other community tool and building the
simplest possible tool into Cassandra that could deliver the maximum value
to our users with the minimal amount of technical debt. For example, a
distributed, shared nothing architecture that communicates only through
state transitions in Cassandra data itself seems to be the most robust and
secure architecture (and indeed Reaper appears to be working towards
refactoring towards that).  Fundamental architecture is, in my experience,
very hard to refactor, and often starting fresh with the lessons learned
from the N previous iterations is the faster way to build real value. For
example, Reaper was built to be a repair tool, it is baked into the core
abstractions. It sounds like the community needs something more like a
distributed task execution engine which is fully pluggable (plugin whatever
ops task you want) and operates scheduled, oneshot, and daemon tasks.

What if we started with a basic framework as proposed in CASSANDRA-14395,
maybe add a pluggable execution engine as the first few commits and then
various community members can contribute plugins/modules that add various
functionality such as repair, backup, distributed restarts, upgrades,
etc..?  We would be striving very hard not to reinvent the wheel, rather we
would want to learn from previous iterations, keep what works well and
leave the rest.

Regarding Priam, we could offer to donate it but I think that the community
shouldn't accept it because it is full of years of technical debt and
decisions made by Netflix for Netflix. For example Priam currently has four
different backup solutions (three used in production, the latest not used
in production) that we have implemented over the years, and only the latest
one that is not yet in production should be contributed to the official
sidecar. The latest iteration is similar to the architecture of
https://github.com/hashbrowncipher/cassandra-mirror which is capable of per
minute, point in time backups; no previous iteration is capable of this.
Yes the earlier versions are "battle hardened" but we know those
architectures have fundamental flaws, are overly expensive, or simply won't
scale to the next 10x requirement. We have learned from those previous
iterations and are creating the next iteration that will scale another
order of magnitude. I also wouldn’t want to burden reviewers with looking
at the first three implementations or building the mental model all at once
of how Priam works end to end.

Practically speaking, I think it's much more logistically difficult to
accept one of the sidecar projects as is than building a new one
incrementally. The existing sidecars have dependencies that have to be
vetted, technical debt that must be trimmed, tens of thousands of lines of
code that have to be reviewed, and even if the community wants to make
changes those changes might be prohibitively difficult as the underlying
architecture has solidified.

Furthermore, all of these tools were designed without the notion that they
were shipping with Cassandra, which precluded them from being capable of
next generation features like removing compaction entirely from the live
request-response path into a separate process that can be limited with e.g.
cgroups to ensure isolation. Also they have supported many versions of
Cassandra over the years and therefore have layers of indirection and
abstraction added simply for dealing with various different APIs and
versions (I personally think the official sidecar should branch with
Cassandra and support current plus previous versions of Cassandra just like
the server does).

I hope that we decide as a community to put all the options on the table in
the open, learn from all of them, and pursue a solution that takes the best
from all the solutions and is unencumbered by historical decisions.

-Joey