Flowmix - A Flexible Event Processing Engine for Apache Storm

This project is an attempt to create a high-speed distributed complex event processing engine written on top of Apache Storm. Many of the semantics are borrowed from CEP frameworks like Esper & IBM's Infosphere Streams. This framework's goal is to make use of Storm's guaranteed delivery, groupings and tuple-at-a-time abilities (along with its guarantees of thread-safe parallelism in its bolts) to make different processed flows of streams possible in a single Storm topology. Storm also gives Flowmix high fault tolerance and the ability to scale.

An initial proof of concept has been completed, demonstrating that continuous query over a sliding window can work on top of Apache Storm but there's plenty of work to be done to get us to a 1.0 release. If you are interested in helping out, feel free to send a message to [email protected]

Why another streams processing abstraction?

Trident is wonderful for building out streams of data and defining how to process those streams along the way, however each each trident topology needs to be deployed separately in Storm. You could, perhaps, write several streams in a trident topology, but this problem is exaserbated by increasing complexity in the client-side builder pattern required to make it possible. Similar to Hadoop's MapReduce framework, an Apache Storm cluster is run with a finite amount of resources available. Each topology that gets deployed needs to make use of more resources. If I have 15 different analytics that I'm interested in writing to correlate the same couple streams of data, I'm left running 15 different topologies.

Another problem encountered with Trident is that it does not make temporal operations and temporary state very easy to manage. Things like typical sliding & tumbling windows (with expiration and trigger functions that act independently of one another) mean having to write your own custom functions to do so, thereby making it harder or not possible to utilize the rich aggregation mechanisms already built into the framework.

So what is Flowmix?

One of the solutions Flowmix offers to the resource and sliding window orchestration problem is having a single topology deployed with a generic "stream" of domain-agnostic objects that can be routed around in different ways, applying different operations to the events on their way through the bolts of the topology. The streams can be split and joined together, bridged to other streams, and passed through a standard pluggable output bolt. Events can be passed through relational operations like partitioning, aggregating, collecting, sorting, filtering, selection, and joining.

Other non-relational operations like switches and governors can also be applied to orchestrate the flow of a stream of data. Generic functions can be applied to each event as it passes through a stream.


What are events?

This engine works on very weakly structured objects called Events. An event, by default, only has to have an id and a timestamp. All other state is set through adding tuples, which are key/value objects. The object looks like this:

Event event = new Event("id", System.currentTimeMillis());
event.put(new Tuple("key1", "val1"));

What is a flow?

A flow is a processing pipeline that defines how to manipulate a set of data streams. A flow runs in parallel, processing as many streams as possible at the same time. Flows also define algorithms that use sliding & tumbling windows, partitions, and aggregations to manage the data so that analytics and alerting can be orchestrated easily.

Inputs and outputs

Flowmix provides a factory for wiring up the standard operators (with a configurable amount of parallel executors/tasks) so that flows can be parsed and route the events to the correct bolts. The factory needs 2 input spouts and an output bolt to wire into the topology:

The input stream of events for which at least one flow stream must subscribe is referred to as standard input. The output stream of events which at least one flow stream must publish to is called the standard output. By default, unless turned off in the FlowBuilder class, streams will subscribe to standard input and publish to standard output. In place of this, however, each stream can specify some number of different streams which they can subscribe to for their events and publish to for their output. This allows the streams within a flow to be "mixed" together and correlated in various ways.

How are flows defined?

Flows are defined using an object called a Flow. FlowOp objects are added to a flow to define executions that need to occur on the flow. Note that the placement of the executions in the flow are important. In the flow defined below, every tuple will first begin with a filtering operator, then move on to a selection operator, then move on to be partitioned, etc...

Flow flow = new FlowBuilder()
    .name("My first flow")
    .description("This flow is just an example")
              .filter(new CriteriaFilter(
                new CriteriaBuilder().eq("country", "USA").build()))
            .select().fields("age", "country").end()
            .partition().fields("age", "country").end()
              .config("outputField", "count")
              .evict(Policy.COUNT, 1000)
              .trigger(Policy.TIME, 5)
            .partition().fields("age", "country").end()
              .config("sumField", "count")
              .config("outputField", "sum")
              .evict(Policy.COUNT, 1000)
              .trigger(Policy.COUNT, 10)
            .sort().sortBy("sum", Order.DESC).topN(10, Policy.TIME, 1000*60*10, false).end()

What does this do?

Some number of events are expected in the standard input stream that contain a country with a value USA and an age field. For each event that comes in, group by the age and country fields, aggregate and count the number of events received for each age/country combination and emit the counts every 5 seconds (clearing the buffers). Aggregate the counts to formulate sums of each count and emit the sums every 10 that are received (that means for each age/country grouping, wait for 10 * 5 seconds or 50 seconds). Collect the sums into an ongoing Top N which will emit every 10 minutes. The topN window will not be cleared- this allows trending algorithms to be written.

Obviously, this is just a test flow, but it's a great demonstration of how an unscalable stream of data can be turned into a completely scalable data flow by grouping items of interest and orchestrating the groupings to provide meaningful outputs.

This is essentially implementing this SQL continuously while the data is streaming through the topology:

SELECT age, country, COUNT(*) FROM input WHERE country = 'USA' GROUP BY age, country  ORDER BY age DESC LIMIT 10;

Creating the topology

Wiring up a Flowmix topology to deploy to a live storm cluster is actually pretty easy.

List<Flow> flows = // create list of flows using the FlowBuilder

List<Event> events = // create a list of mock events to send through Flowmix

StormTopology topology = new FlowmixBuilder()
    .setFlowLoader(new SimpleFlowLoaderSpout(flows, 60000))    // spout to provide the flows
    .setEventsLoader(new MockEventGeneratorSpout(events, 10))  // spout to provide the events
    .setOutputBolt(new PrinterBolt())                          // standard output bolt 
    .setParallelismHint(6)                                     // set the amount of parallelism 

Config conf = new Config();
conf.registerSerialization(BaseEvent.class, EventSerializer.class);

LocalCluster cluster = new LocalCluster();
cluster.submitTopology("example-flowmix-topology", conf, topology);


Examples are provided in the org.calrissian.flowmix.examples package. These examples with fire up a local Apache Storm cluster and print the events received on the standard output component to the console. Each of the classes in the base examples package have main() methods that can be executed directly to run the example. You can run the examples with the following:

java -cp flowmix-<version>.jar org.calrissian.flowmix.examples.StreamBridgeExample

Check the documentation of each example to find out more about the features they are exemplifying.

Current planned notable features: