A High Performance Platform For The Full Big Data Lifecycle


August 19th, 2019

1 hr 13 mins 45 secs

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About this Episode


Managing big data projects at scale is a perennial problem, with a wide variety of solutions that have evolved over the past 20 years. One of the early entrants that predates Hadoop and has since been open sourced is the HPCC (High Performance Computing Cluster) system. Designed as a fully integrated platform to meet the needs of enterprise grade analytics it provides a solution for the full lifecycle of data at massive scale. In this episode Flavio Villanustre, VP of infrastructure and products at HPCC Systems, shares the history of the platform, how it is architected for scale and speed, and the unique solutions that it provides for enterprise grade data analytics. He also discusses the motivations for open sourcing the platform, the detailed workflow that it enables, and how you can try it for your own projects. This was an interesting view of how a well engineered product can survive massive evolutionary shifts in the industry while remaining relevant and useful.


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  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Flavio Villanustre about the HPCC Systems project and his work at LexisNexis Risk Solutions


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • Can you start by describing what the HPCC system is and the problems that you were facing at LexisNexis Risk Solutions which led to its creation?
    • What was the overall state of the data landscape at the time and what was the motivation for releasing it as open source?
  • Can you describe the high level architecture of the HPCC Systems platform and some of the ways that the design has changed over the years that it has been maintained?
  • Given how long the project has been in use, can you talk about some of the ways that it has had to evolve to accomodate changing trends in usage and technologies for big data and advanced analytics?
  • For someone who is using HPCC Systems, can you talk through a common workflow and the ways that the data traverses the various components?
    • How does HPCC Systems manage persistence and scalability?
  • What are the integration points available for extending and enhancing the HPCC Systems platform?
  • What is involved in deploying and managing a production installation of HPCC Systems?
  • The ECL language is an intriguing element of the overall system. What are some of the features that it provides which simplify processing and management of data?
  • How does the Thor engine manage data transformation and manipulation?
    • What are some of the unique features of Thor and how does it compare to other approaches for ETL and data integration?
  • For extraction and analysis of data can you talk through the capabilities of the Roxie engine?
  • How are you using the HPCC Systems platform in your work at LexisNexis?
  • Despite being older than the Hadoop platform it doesn’t seem that HPCC Systems has seen the same level of growth and popularity. Can you share your perspective on the community for HPCC Systems and how it compares to that of Hadoop over the past decade?
  • How is the HPCC Systems project governed, and what is your approach to sustainability?
    • What are some of the additional capabilities that are only available in the enterprise distribution?
  • When is the HPCC Systems platform the wrong choice, and what are some systems that you might use instead?
  • What have been some of the most interesting/unexpected/novel ways that you have seen HPCC Systems used?
  • What are some of the challenges that you have faced and lessons that you have learned while building and maintaining the HPCC Systems platform and community?
  • What do you have planned for the future of HPCC Systems?

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Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?


The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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