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HomeBig DataCase Examine: Sequoia Capital — Why We Moved from Elasticsearch to Rockset

Case Examine: Sequoia Capital — Why We Moved from Elasticsearch to Rockset


Sequoia Capital is a enterprise capital agency that invests in a broad vary of shopper and enterprise start-ups. To maintain up with all the information round potential funding alternatives, they created a set of inner information functions a number of years in the past to raised help their funding groups. Extra just lately, they transitioned their inner apps from Elasticsearch to Rockset. We spoke with Sequoia’s head of engineering, Jake Quist, and VP of knowledge science, Hem Wadhar, about their causes for doing so.

Inform us concerning the inner instruments you construct and handle at Sequoia

Sequoia makes use of a mix of inner and exterior information to tell our decision-making course of. We’ve got funding professionals and information scientists, and we would like our customers to have the ability to get the information they want for his or her work.

Over time, we’ve constructed various inner apps to floor information to our customers. From a handful of customers early on, we now have half our agency utilizing our apps in some kind. Half of our apps require transactional consistency, in order that they use Postgres or DynamoDB. The opposite half—about 15 instruments—use Rockset for search and analytics. We had initially constructed them on Elasticsearch however switched to Rockset a 12 months in the past. We additionally use Retool for the front-end for our apps.

Why did you progress search and analytics from Elasticsearch to Rockset?

There are two most important causes we most popular Rockset to Elasticsearch for the analytical apps we had been constructing: the flexibility to make use of SQL and shorter indexing occasions.

Rockset lets us write SQL in opposition to our information. SQL is a greater match for what we’re doing in bringing collectively a number of information units to create a map of the start-up universe during which we function. The flexibility to do relational algebra in Rockset is absolutely useful.

SQL permits extra folks to work together with the information. Our engineers and information scientists are rather more productive writing queries in SQL. All the pieces was that a lot more durable when utilizing Elasticsearch DSL. Previous to transferring to Rockset, we prevented Elasticsearch DSL syntax if we might, typically performing duties in Spark as a substitute. We’re always iterating on our queries, and we’re in a position to decide correctness extra rapidly due to our familiarity with SQL. When issues do break, it’s simpler to verify what broke if we’re utilizing SQL.

We use information from many alternative sources in our evaluation. We usually obtain information recordsdata from our distributors that we have to ingest from S3. Elasticsearch and Rockset each index the information to speed up question efficiency, however the indexing time is far shorter with Rockset. This permits us to question the latest model of the information as rapidly as attainable, with out compromising on efficiency.

What options did you take into account?

Given the challenges with Elasticsearch, there’s likelihood we might have moved off Elasticsearch anyway, even when Rockset weren’t an choice. Previously, we’ve thought-about utilizing Postgres as a substitute, however we might have needed to be extra selective concerning the information we put into Postgres, probably limiting the information units we deliver into our apps. Snowflake and Amazon Athena had been different SQL choices, and we do use Snowflake at Sequoia, however Rockset is manner quicker for powering apps.

We’ve additionally experimented with different NoSQL databases, however SQL is simply a lot simpler to make use of. All of the NoSQL options required studying one thing completely different from SQL. In the end, there’s plenty of worth in having the ability to question utilizing SQL however not having to specify the schema, and Rockset provides us that means.

What did you obtain by making the swap from Elasticsearch to Rockset?

Our workforce doesn’t use Elasticsearch anymore. We’ve moved our inner apps over to Rockset for search and analytics.



We bought the flexibility to do joins. Elasticsearch doesn’t help joins, so we had been always denormalizing our information to get round this. It could possibly take every week to arrange a Spark job to denormalize every information set, and due to the information we take care of, we might expertise important area amplification because of denormalization. Knowledge that might occupy 1 TB in Elasticsearch now takes up 10 GB in Rockset, roughly a 100x distinction from not having to denormalize with a purpose to be part of information.

We shortened the time it takes to index our information. With Elasticsearch, it will take 4-5 hours to index our largest information set. We’re doing that in 15-Half-hour with Rockset. We’re making information usable extra rapidly now, and we not must expend effort monitoring longer-running ingestion on Elasticsearch.

We will transfer and iterate quicker with Rockset. Our information mannequin is continually in flux, and we don’t anticipate it should ever get to a gentle state, so it’s essential to have the ability to iterate rapidly on our queries and apps. The schema exploration functionality in Rockset is absolutely useful in understanding the construction of the information we obtain. Constructing and debugging queries utilizing SQL in Rockset is trivial for us. We might typically take 15-Half-hour to assemble the equal queries in Elasticsearch, and it will nonetheless not be 100% sure that we’d accurately specified the question we supposed. Transferring to Rockset permits us to be extra environment friendly because of our familiarity with SQL. Rockset’s Question Lambdas (named, parameterized SQL queries saved in Rockset that may be executed from a devoted REST endpoint) function a useful abstraction layer on which we construct our inner apps.

We not must handle and keep a cluster. We beforehand used an Elasticsearch managed cloud service, but it surely nonetheless wanted plenty of tremendous tuning from our engineers and would possibly go down for a few hours each month. Rockset is a upkeep delight. We don’t have to consider it and may merely concentrate on constructing our apps on high of it.

General, we’ve improved the underlying information infrastructure for our apps with this transition from Elasticsearch to Rockset. The variety of apps we construct and the information we make use of in our evaluation will proceed to develop, and we’re wanting ahead to extra Rockset options and integrations to assist us on the best way.



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