Basic principles for scalability and concurrency tuning

A Vertica database runs on a cluster of commodity hardware.

A Vertica database runs on a cluster of commodity hardware. All loads and queries running against the database take up system resources, such as CPU, memory, disk I/O bandwidth, file handles, and so forth. The performance (run time) of a given query depends on how much resource it has been allocated.

When running more than one query concurrently on the system, both queries are sharing the resources; therefore, each query could take longer to run than if it was running by itself. In an efficient and scalable system, if a query takes up all the resources on the machine and runs in X time, then running two such queries would double the run time of each query to 2X. If the query runs in > 2X, the system is not linearly scalable, and if the query runs in < 2X then the single query was wasteful in its use of resources. Note that the above is true as long as the query obtains the minimum resources necessary for it to run and is limited by CPU cycles. Instead, if the system becomes bottlenecked so the query does not get enough of a particular resource to run, then the system has reached a limit. In order to increase concurrency in such cases, the system must be expanded by adding more of that resource.

In practice, Vertica should achieve near linear scalability in run times, with increasing concurrency, until a system resource limit is reached. When adequate concurrency is reached without hitting bottlenecks, then the system can be considered as ideally sized for the workload.