Synchronizing an HCatalog schema or table with a local schema or table

Querying data from an HCatalog schema can be slow due to Hive performance issues.

Querying data from an HCatalog schema can be slow due to Hive performance issues. This slow performance can be especially annoying when you want to examine the structure of the tables in the Hive database. Getting this information from Hive requires you to query the HCatalog schema's metadata using the HCatalog Connector.

To avoid this performance problem you can use the SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA function to create a snapshot of the HCatalog schema's metadata within a Vertica schema. You supply this function with the name of a pre-existing Vertica schema, typically the one created through CREATE HCATALOG SCHEMA, and a Hive schema available through the HCatalog Connector. You must have permission both in Vertica to write the data and in Hive and HDFS to read it.

The function creates a set of external tables within the Vertica schema that you can then use to examine the structure of the tables in the Hive database. Because the metadata in the Vertica schema is local, query planning is much faster. You can also use standard Vertica statements and system-table queries to examine the structure of Hive tables in the HCatalog schema.

When SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA creates tables in Vertica, it matches Hive's STRING and BINARY types to Vertica's VARCHAR(65000) and VARBINARY(65000) types. You might want to change these lengths, using ALTER TABLE SET DATA TYPE, in two cases:

  • If the value in Hive is larger than 65000 bytes, increase the size and use LONG VARCHAR or LONG VARBINARY to avoid data truncation. If a Hive string uses multi-byte encodings, you must increase the size in Vertica to avoid data truncation. This step is needed because Hive counts string length in characters while Vertica counts it in bytes.

  • If the value in Hive is much smaller than 65000 bytes, reduce the size to conserve memory in Vertica.

The Vertica schema is just a snapshot of the HCatalog schema's metadata. Vertica does not synchronize later changes to the HCatalog schema with the local schema after you call SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA. You can call the function again to re-synchronize the local schema to the HCatalog schema. If you altered column data types, you will need to repeat those changes because the function creates new external tables.

By default, SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA does not drop tables that appear in the local schema that do not appear in the HCatalog schema. Thus, after the function call the local schema does not reflect tables that have been dropped in the Hive database since the previous call. You can change this behavior by supplying the optional third Boolean argument that tells the function to drop any table in the local schema that does not correspond to a table in the HCatalog schema.

Instead of synchronizing the entire schema, you can synchronize individual tables by using SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA_TABLE. If the table already exists in Vertica the function overwrites it. If the table is not found in the HCatalog schema, this function returns an error. In all other respects this function behaves in the same way as SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA.

If you change the settings of any HCatalog Connector configuration parameters (Hadoop parameters), you must call this function again.


The following example demonstrates calling SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA to synchronize the HCatalog schema in Vertica with the metadata in Hive. Because it synchronizes the HCatalog schema directly, instead of synchronizing another schema with the HCatalog schema, both arguments are the same.

=> CREATE HCATALOG SCHEMA hcat WITH hostname='hcathost' HCATALOG_SCHEMA='default'
=> SELECT sync_with_hcatalog_schema('hcat', 'hcat');
Schema hcat synchronized with hcat
tables in hcat = 56
tables altered in hcat = 0
tables created in hcat = 56
stale tables in hcat = 0
table changes erred in hcat = 0
(1 row)

=> -- Use vsql's \d command to describe a table in the synced schema

=> \d hcat.messages
List of Fields by Tables
  Schema   |   Table  | Column  |      Type      | Size  | Default | Not Null | Primary Key | Foreign Key
hcat       | messages | id      | int            |     8 |         | f        | f           |
hcat       | messages | userid  | varchar(65000) | 65000 |         | f        | f           |
hcat       | messages | "time"  | varchar(65000) | 65000 |         | f        | f           |
hcat       | messages | message | varchar(65000) | 65000 |         | f        | f           |
(4 rows)

This example shows synchronizing with a schema created using CREATE HCATALOG SCHEMA. Synchronizing with a schema created using CREATE SCHEMA is also supported.

You can query tables in the local schema that you synchronized with an HCatalog schema. However, querying tables in a synchronized schema isn't much faster than directly querying the HCatalog schema, because SYNC_WITH_HCATALOG_SCHEMA only duplicates the HCatalog schema's metadata. The data in the table is still retrieved using the HCatalog Connector.