ZooKeeper services coordinator moves to Apache

Alex Handy
October 28, 2008 —  (Page 1 of 2)
Two years ago, two Yahoo engineers began work on a project to create a service coordination program. The project was dubbed ZooKeeper, and as of Sunday, Oct. 26, it has reached version 3.0 and completed its transformation from a SourceForge project to an Apache Hadoop subproject.

The move to Apache meant shifting bug tracking, source code repositories and project wikis to a new system. As a result, Patrick Hunt, architect of search at Yahoo and project leader for ZooKeeper, said that many of the changes to version 3.0 weren't in the code but rather in the hosting.

That said, there are improvements to this service coordination package that will make life easier for developers who had previously used the projects watch feature.

But Hunt expects that the move to Apache will bring ZooKeeper new visibility and more openness. That should help, considering the project is a bit of a Swiss Army knife for service coordination needs.

“The whole idea was to provide a service for distributed coordination of services,” said Hunt. “At the highest level, ZooKeeeper is a high-performance coordination service for large services. We've seen people do that in an ad hoc way. They'll build some part of ZooKeeper themselves. A lot of times, people use event and message queues for this sort of thing, but we see developers have a hard time getting that right. There're also the locking type services, like Chubby from Google. That provides distributed locking. But what we've seen is [that] those are fairly low-level primitives, and people have some hard times implementing those services properly.”

Hunt said that ZooKeeper is good for coordinating, “group services, group membership and leadership election. One of the most common ones is leadership election. If you have some set of machines that are dynamically being managed, when you bring up the cluster for the very first time, they need to find each other; they have to elect one leader. In your client code on your nodes in the cluster, they would come up and attach to the ZooKeeper server. The way you interact with ZooKeeper is that it looks almost like a file system. There's a root node, then you can create nodes under that root node. You use that space to elect a leader.”

Related Search Term(s): service coordination, ZooKeeper, Apache, Yahoo

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