Stop Thinking, Just Do!

Sung-Soo Kim's Blog

Failures in Classic MapReduce


7 April 2014


In the real world, user code is buggy, processes crash, and machines fail. One of the major benefits of using Hadoop is its ability to handle such failures and allow your job to complete.

Failures in Classic MapReduce

In the MapReduce 1 runtime there are three failure modes to consider: failure of the running task, failure of the tastracker, and failure of the jobtracker. Let’s look at each in turn.

Task Failure

Consider first the case of the child task failing. The most common way that this happens is when user code in the map or reduce task throws a runtime exception. If this happens, the child JVM reports the error back to its parent tasktracker, before it exits. The error ultimately makes it into the user logs. The tasktracker marks the task attempt as failed, freeing up a slot to run another task.

For Streaming tasks, if the Streaming process exits with a nonzero exit code, it is marked as failed. This behavior is governed by the property (the default is true).

Another failure mode is the sudden exit of the child JVM—perhaps there is a JVM bug that causes the JVM to exit for a particular set of circumstances exposed by the MapReduce user code. In this case, the tasktracker notices that the process has exited and marks the attempt as failed.

Hanging tasks are dealt with differently. The tasktracker notices that it hasn’t received a progress update for a while and proceeds to mark the task as failed. The child JVM process will be automatically killed after this period. The timeout period after which tasks are considered failed is normally 10 minutes and can be configured on a per-job basis (or a cluster basis) by setting the mapred.task.timeout property to a value in milliseconds.

If a Streaming or Pipes process hangs, the tasktracker will kill it (along with the JVM that launched it) only in one the following circumstances: either mapred.task.tracker.task-controller is set to org.apache.hadoop.mapred.LinuxTaskController, or the default task controller in being used (org.apache.hadoop.mapred.DefaultTaskController) and the setsid command is available on the system (so that the child JVM and any processes it launches are in the same process group). In any other case orphaned Streaming or Pipes processes will accumulate on the system, which will impact utilization over time.

Setting the timeout to a value of zero disables the timeout, so long-running tasks are never marked as failed. In this case, a hanging task will never free up its slot, and over time there may be cluster slowdown as a result. This approach should therefore be avoided, and making sure that a task is reporting progress periodically will suffice.

When the jobtracker is notified of a task attempt that has failed (by the tasktracker’s heartbeat call), it will reschedule execution of the task. The jobtracker will try to avoid rescheduling the task on a tasktracker where it has previously failed. Furthermore, if a task fails four times (or more), it will not be retried further. This value is configurable: the maximum number of attempts to run a task is controlled by the property for map tasks and mapred.reduce.max.attempts for reduce tasks. By default, if any task fails four times (or whatever the maximum number of attempts is configured to), the whole job fails.

For some applications, it is undesirable to abort the job if a few tasks fail, as it may be possible to use the results of the job despite some failures. In this case, the maximum percentage of tasks that are allowed to fail without triggering job failure can be set for the job. Map tasks and reduce tasks are controlled independently, using the and mapred.max.reduce.failures.percent properties.

A task attempt may also be killed, which is different from it failing. A task attempt may be killed because it is a speculative duplicate (for more, see “Speculative Execution” on page 213), or because the tasktracker it was running on failed, and the jobtracker marked all the task attempts running on it as killed. Killed task attempts do not count against the number of attempts to run the task (as set by and mapred.reduce.max.attempts), since it wasn’t the task’s fault that an attempt was killed.

Users may also kill or fail task attempts using the web UI or the command line (type hadoop job to see the options). Jobs may also be killed by the same mechanisms.

Tasktracker Failure

Failure of a tasktracker is another failure mode. If a tasktracker fails by crashing, or running very slowly, it will stop sending heartbeats to the jobtracker (or send them very infrequently). The jobtracker will notice a tasktracker that has stopped sending heartbeats (if it hasn’t received one for 10 minutes, configured via the mapred.task tracker.expiry.interval property, in milliseconds) and remove it from its pool of tasktrackers to schedule tasks on. The jobtracker arranges for map tasks that were run and completed successfully on that tasktracker to be rerun if they belong to incomplete jobs, since their intermediate output residing on the failed tasktracker’s local filesystem may not be accessible to the reduce task. Any tasks in progress are also rescheduled.

A tasktracker can also be blacklisted by the jobtracker, even if the tasktracker has not failed. If more than four tasks from the same job fail on a particular tasktracker (set by (mapred.max.tracker.failures), then the jobtracker records this as a fault. A tasktracker is blacklisted if the number of faults is over some minimum threshold (four, set by mapred.max.tracker.blacklists) and is significantly higher than the average number of faults for tasktrackers in the cluster cluster.

Blacklisted tasktrackers are not assigned tasks, but they continue to communicate with the jobtracker. Faults expire over time (at the rate of one per day), so tasktrackers get the chance to run jobs again simply by leaving them running. Alternatively, if there is an underlying fault that can be fixed (by replacing hardware, for example), the tasktracker will be removed from the jobtracker’s blacklist after it restarts and rejoins the cluster.

Jobtracker Failure

Failure of the jobtracker is the most serious failure mode. Hadoop has no mechanism for dealing with failure of the jobtracker—it is a single point of failure—so in this case the job fails. However, this failure mode has a low chance of occurring, since the chance of a particular machine failing is low. The good news is that the situation is improved in YARN, since one of its design goals is to eliminate single points of failure in MapReduce.

After restarting a jobtracker, any jobs that were running at the time it was stopped will need to be re-submitted. There is a configuration option that attempts to recover any running jobs (mapred.jobtracker.restart.recover, turned off by default), however it is known not to work reliably, so should not be used.


[1] Apache hadoop.
[2] Apache tez.
[3] Netty project.
[4] Storm.
[5] H.Ballani, P.Costa, T.Karagiannis, and A.I.Rowstron. Towards predictable datacenter networks. In SIGCOMM, volume 11, pages 242–253, 2011.
[6] F.P.Brooks,Jr. The mythical man-month (anniversary ed.). Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc., Boston, MA, USA, 1995.
[7] N. Capit, G. Da Costa, Y. Georgiou, G. Huard, C. Martin, G. Mounie, P. Neyron, and O. Richard. A batch scheduler with high level components. In Cluster Computing and the Grid, 2005. CC-Grid 2005. IEEE International Symposium on, volume 2, pages 776–783 Vol. 2, 2005.
[8] R. Chaiken, B. Jenkins, P.-A. Larson, B. Ramsey, D. Shakib, S. Weaver, and J. Zhou. Scope: easy and efficient parallel processing of massive data sets. Proc. VLDB Endow., 1(2):1265–1276, Aug. 2008.
[9] M. Chowdhury, M. Zaharia, J. Ma, M. I. Jordan, and I. Stoica. Managing data transfers in computer clusters with orchestra. SIGCOMMComputer Communication Review, 41(4):98, 2011.
[10] B.-G. Chun, T. Condie, C. Curino, R. Ramakrishnan, R. Sears, and M. Weimer. Reef: Retainable evaluator execution framework. In VLDB 2013, Demo, 2013.
[11] B. F. Cooper, E. Baldeschwieler, R. Fonseca, J. J. Kistler, P. Narayan, C. Neerdaels, T. Negrin, R. Ramakrishnan, A. Silberstein, U. Srivastava, et al. Building a cloud for Yahoo! IEEE Data Eng. Bull., 32(1):36–43, 2009.
[12] J. Dean and S. Ghemawat. MapReduce: simplified data processing on large clusters. Commun. ACM, 51(1):107–113, Jan. 2008.
[13] W. Emeneker, D. Jackson, J. Butikofer, and D. Stanzione. Dynamic virtual clustering with xen and moab. In G. Min, B. Martino, L. Yang, M. Guo, and G. Rnger, editors, Frontiers of High Performance Computing and Networking, ISPA 2006 Workshops, volume 4331 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 440–451. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2006.
[14] Facebook Engineering Team. Under the Hood: Scheduling MapReduce jobs more efficiently with Corona., 2012.
[15] D. Gottfrid. Self-service prorated super-computing fun. http://open., 2007.
[16] T. Graves. GraySort and MinuteSort at Yahoo on Hadoop 0.23. http://sortbenchmark. org/Yahoo2013Sort.pdf, 2013.
[17] B. Hindman, A. Konwinski, M. Zaharia, A. Ghodsi, A. D. Joseph, R. Katz, S. Shenker, and I. Stoica. Mesos: a platform for fine-grained resource sharing in the data center. In Proceedings of the 8th USENIX conference on Networked systems design and implementation, NSDI’11, pages 22–22, Berkeley, CA, USA, 2011. USENIX Association.
[18] M. Isard, M. Budiu, Y. Yu, A. Birrell, and D. Fetterly. Dryad: distributed data-parallel programs from sequential building blocks. In Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGOPS/EuroSys European Conference on Computer Systems 2007, EuroSys ’07, pages 59–72, New York, NY, USA, 2007. ACM.
[19] M. Islam, A. K. Huang, M. Battisha, M. Chiang, S. Srinivasan, C. Peters, A. Neumann, and A. Abdelnur. Oozie: towards a scalable workflow management system for hadoop. In Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGMOD Workshop on Scalable Workflow Execution Engines and Technologies, page 4. ACM, 2012.
[20] D. B. Jackson, Q. Snell, and M. J. Clement. Core algorithms of the maui scheduler. In Revised Papers from the 7th International Workshop on Job Scheduling Strategies for Parallel Processing, JSSPP ’01, pages 87–102, London, UK, UK, 2001. Springer-Verlag.
[21] S. Loughran, D. Das, and E. Baldeschwieler. Introducing Hoya – HBase on YARN., 2013.
[22] G. Malewicz, M. H. Austern, A. J. Bik, J. C. Dehnert, I. Horn, N. Leiser, and G. Czajkowski. Pregel: a system for large-scale graph processing. In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of data, SIGMOD ’10, pages 135–146, New York, NY, USA, 2010. ACM.
[23] R. O. Nambiar and M. Poess. The making of tpcds. In Proceedings of the 32nd international conference on Very large data bases, VLDB ’06, pages 1049–1058. VLDB Endowment, 2006.
[24] C. Olston, B. Reed, U. Srivastava, R. Kumar, and A. Tomkins. Pig Latin: a not-so-foreign language for data processing. In Proceedings of the 2008 ACM SIGMOD international conference on Management of data, SIGMOD ’08, pages 1099–1110, New York, NY, USA, 2008. ACM.
[25] O.O’Malley. Hadoop: The Definitive Guide, chapter Hadoop at Yahoo!, pages 11–12. O’Reilly Media, 2012.
[26] M. Schwarzkopf, A. Konwinski, M. Abd-El-Malek, and J. Wilkes. Omega: flexible, scalable schedulers for large compute clusters. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM European Conference on Computer Systems, EuroSys ’13, pages 351–364, New York, NY, USA, 2013. ACM.
[27] K.Shvachko, H.Kuang, S.Radia, and R.Chansler. The Hadoop Distributed File System. In Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE 26th Symposium on Mass Storage Systems and Technologies (MSST), MSST ’10, pages 1–10, Washington, DC, USA, 2010. IEEE Computer Society.
[28] T.-W. N. Sze. The two quadrillionth bit of π is 0!
[29] D. Thain, T. Tannenbaum, and M. Livny. Distributed computing in practice: the Condor experience. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 17(2-4):323–356, 2005.
[30] A. Thusoo, J. S. Sarma, N. Jain, Z. Shao, P. Chakka, N. Z. 0002, S. Anthony, H. Liu, and R. Murthy. Hive a petabyte scale data warehouse using Hadoop. In F. Li, M. M. Moro, S. Ghandeharizadeh, J. R. Haritsa, G. Weikum, M. J. Carey, F. Casati, E. Y. Chang, I. Manolescu, S. Mehrotra, U. Dayal, and V. J. Tsotras, editors, Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Data Engineering, ICDE 2010, March 1-6, 2010, Long Beach, California, USA, pages 996–1005. IEEE, 2010.
[31] Y. Yu, M. Isard, D. Fetterly, M. Budiu, U. Erlingsson, P. K. Gunda, and J. Currey. DryadLINQ: a system for general-purpose distributed data-parallel computing using a high-level language. In Proceedings of the 8th USENIX conference on Operating systems design and implementation, OSDI’08, pages 1–14, Berkeley, CA, USA, 2008. USENIX Association.
[32] M. Zaharia, M. Chowdhury, M. J. Franklin, S. Shenker, and I. Stoica. Spark: cluster computing with working sets. In Proceedings of the 2nd USENIX conference on Hot topics in cloud computing, HotCloud’10, pages 10–10, Berkeley, CA, USA, 2010. USENIX Association.
[33] Vinod Kumar Vavilapali, et. al, Apache Hadoop YARN – Yet Another Resource Negotiator, SoCC’13, 1-3 Oct. 2013, Santa Clara, California, USA.

comments powered by Disqus