Is SNB Like Facebooks LinkBench

by Peter Boncz / on 09 Oct 2014
This table shows which kind of graph data management system might be tested for the three different SNB workloads.
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In this post, I will discuss in some detail the rationale and goals of
the design of the Social Network Benchmark (SNB) and explain how it relates to real social network data
as in Facebook, and in particular FaceBook’s own graph benchmark
called LinkBench. We
think SNB is the most intricate graph database benchmark to date (it’s
also available in RDF!), that already has made some waves. SNB recently
received praise at the most important database systems
conference SIGMOD in Snowbird after being
used for this year’s ACM SIGMOD Programming Contest, which was about graph analytics.

SNB is intended to provide the following value to different

  • For end users facing graph processing tasks, SNB provides a
    recognizable scenario against which it is possible to compare merits of different products and technologies. By covering a wide variety of
    scales and price points, SNB can serve as an aid to technology
  • For vendors of graph database technology, SNB provides a checklist of
    and performance characteristics that helps in product
    positioning and can serve to guide new development.
  • For researchers, both industrial and academic, the SNB dataset and
    workload provide interesting challenges in multiple technical areas,
    such as query optimization, (distributed) graph analysis, transactional
    throughput, and provides a way to objectively compare the effectiveness
    and efficiency of new and existing technology in these areas.

I should clarify that even though the data model of SNB resembles
Facebook (and we’re extending it to also look more like Twitter), the
goal of SNB is not to advise Facebook or Twitter what systems to use,
they don’t need LDBC for that. Rather, we take social network data as a
model for the much more broader graph data management problems that IT
practitioners face. The particular characteristic of a graph data
management problem is that the queries and analysis is not just about
finding data by value, but about learning about the connection
between data. The scenario of the SNB, a social network, was
chosen with the following goals in mind:

  • the benchmark scenario should be understandable to a large
    audience, and this audience should also understand the relevance of
    managing such data.
  • the scenario in the benchmark should cover the complete range of
    challenges relevant for graph data management, according to the
    benchmark scope.
  • the query challenges in it should be realistic in the sense that,
    though synthetic, similar data and workloads are encountered in

The SNB is in fact three distinct benchmarks with a common dataset,
since there are three different workloads. Each workload produces a
single metric for performance at the given scale and a price/performance
metric at the scale. The full disclosure further breaks down the
composition of the metric into its constituent parts, e.g. single query
execution times.

  • Interactive Workload. The Interactive SNB workload is the first one
    we are releasing. It is defined in plain text, yet we have example
    implementations in Neo4j’s Cypher, SPARQL and SQL. The interactive
    workloads tests a system’s throughput with relatively simple queries
    with concurrent updates. The system under test (SUT) is expected to run
    in a steady state, providing durable storage with smooth response
    times. Inserts are typically small, affecting a few nodes at a time,
    e.g. uploading of a post and its tags. Transactions may require
    serializability, e.g. verifying that something does not exist before
    committing the transaction. Reads do not typically require more than
    read committed isolation. One could call the Interactive Workload an
    OLTP workload, but while queries typically touch a small fraction of the
    database, this can still be up to hundreds of thousands of values (the
    two-step neighborhood of a person in the social graph, often). Note that
    in order to support the read-queries, there is a lot of liberty to
    create indexing structures or materialized views, however such
    structures need to be maintained with regards to the continues inserts
    that also part of the workload. This workload is now in draft stage,
    which means that
    the data generator and driver software stack are ready and the purpose is to obtain user feedback, as well
    as develop good system implementations. The first implementations of
    this workload are now running on Openlink Virtuoso, Neo4j and Sparsity
    Sparksee, and we are eager to see people try these, and optimize and
    involve these.
  • Business Intelligence Workload. There is a first stab at this
    workload formulated in SPARQL, tested against Openlink Virtuoso. The BI
    workload consists of complex structured queries for analyzing online
    behavior of users for marketing purposes. The workload stresses query
    execution and optimization. Queries typically touch a large fraction of
    the data and do not require repeatable read. The queries will be
    concurrent with trickle load (not out yet). Unlike the interactive
    workload, the queries touch more data as the database grows.
  • Graph Analytics Workload. This workload is not yet available. It
    will test the functionality and scalability of the SUT for graph
    analytics that typically cannot be expressed in a query language. As
    such it is the natural domain for graph programming frameworks like
    Giraph. The workload is still under development, but will consist of
    algorithms like PageRank, Clustering and Breadth First Search. The
    analytics is done on most of the data in the graph as a single
    operation. The analysis itself produces large intermediate results.
    The analysis is not expected to be transactional or to have isolation
    from possible concurrent updates.

All the SNB scenarios share a common scalable synthetic data set,
generated by a state-of-the
art data generator. We strongly believe in a single dataset that makes sense for
all workloads, that is, the interactive and BI workloads will traverse
data that has sensible PageRank outcomes, and graph clustering
structure, etc. This is in contrast
to LinkBench,
released by the team of Facebook that manages the OLTP workload on the
Facebook Graph, which closely tunes to the low-level MySQL query
patterns Facebook sees, but whose graph structure does not attempt to be
realistic beyond average out degree of the nodes (so, it makes no
attempts to create realistic community patterns or correlations) . The
authors of LinkBench may be right that the graph structure does not
make a difference for simple insert/update/delete/lookup actions which
LinkBench itself tests, but for the SNB queries in the Interactive and
BI workloads this is not true. Note
that Facebook’s IT infrastructure does not store all user data in MySQL and its modified
some of it ends up in separate subsystems (using HDFS and HBase), which
is outside of the scope of LinkBench. However, for queries like in the
SNB Interactive and BI workloads it does matter how people are
connected, and how the attribute values of connected people correlate.
In fact, the SNB data generator is unique in that it generates a huge
graph with correlations, where people who live together, have the same
interests or work for the same company have greater chance to be
connected, and people from Germany have mostly German names, etc.
Correlations frequently occur in practice and can strongly influence the
quality of query optimization and execution, therefore LDBC wants to
test their effects on graph data management systems (the impact of
correlation among values and structure on query optimization and execution are a “choke point” for graph data management system where LDBC wants to stimulate innovation).