Chapter 10. Batch Processing

A system cannot be successful if it is too strongly influenced by a single person. Once the initial design is complete and fairly robust, the real test begins as people with many different viewpoints undertake their own experiments.

Donald Knuth

In the first two parts of this book we talked a lot about requests and queries, and the corresponding responses or results. This style of data processing is assumed in many modern data systems: you ask for something, or you send an instruction, and some time later the system (hopefully) gives you an answer. Databases, caches, search indexes, web servers, and many other systems work this way.

In such online systems, whether it’s a web browser requesting a page or a service calling a remote API, we generally assume that the request is triggered by a human user, and that the user is waiting for the response. They shouldn’t have to wait too long, so we pay a lot of attention to the response time of these systems (see “Describing Performance”).

The web, and increasing numbers of HTTP/REST-based APIs, has made the request/response style of interaction so common that it’s easy to take it for granted. But we should remember that it’s not the only way of building systems, and that other approaches have their merits too. Let’s distinguish three different types of systems:

Services (online systems)

A service ...

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