Lots of sparse columns. Efficient like Cassandra? Some measures of my dataset

Jeremiah Peschka jeremiah.peschka at gmail.com
Wed Jul 17 08:25:06 EDT 2013

Jeremiah Peschka - Founder, Brent Ozar Unlimited
MCITP: SQL Server 2008, MVP
Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop

On Jul 17, 2013, at 4:38 AM, gbrits <gbrits at gmail.com> wrote:

> Somewhere (can't find it now) I've read that Riak, like Cassandra could be
> classified as a column store. 

That is incorrect. Riak is a key value database where the value is an opaque blob.

> This is just a name of course but what I understand from Cassandra is that
> this allows for space-efficient encoding of column-values. Basically storage
> is surrounded around columns instead of rows, allowing for different
> persistence strategies on a per-column, or column-family, basis. Moreover,
> it would allow for zero storage overhead for non-existent column values.
> I.e: basically allowing for efficient storage of sparse data-sets.
> Does Riak have this property as well?

No. Riak will happily store whatever you throw at it. That being said, most good serialization libraries will leave off nullable properties.

> More specifically, I've got a datastructure on paper with the following
> properties, when mapped to riak nomenclature:
> - ~ 1.000.000 keys (will not grow)
> - ~ 1.000 columns.  (may grow)
> - 1 particular key has a median of ~50 columns. In other words the entire
> set is ~ 95% sparse.
> - Wherever a key has a value for a particular column, that value is always
> exactly a String (base 255) of 4KB length.
> - the 4KB values themselves are pretty 'sparse' so would benefit a lot from
> run-length encoding. Is this supported out of the box?

See above.

> Given these properties how would Riak hold up? Hard to say of course, but
> I'm looking for some general advice. 

Riak objects should be no more than ~10MB for performance reasons. You should be safe. 

> Thanks. 
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