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Designing Distributed Systems by Brendan Burns

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Chapter 11. Event-Driven Batch Processing

In the previous chapter, we saw a generic framework for work queue processing, as well as a number of example applications of simple work queue processing. Work queues are great for enabling individual transformations of one input to one output. However, there are a number of batch applications where you want to perform more than a single action, or you may need to generate multiple different outputs from a single data input. In these cases, you start to link work queues together so that the output of one work queue becomes the input to one or more other work queues, and so on. This forms a series of processing steps that respond to events, with the events being the completion of the preceding step in the work queue that came before it.

These sort of event-driven processing systems are often called workflow systems, since there is a flow of work through a directed, acyclic graph that describes the various stages and their coordination. A basic illustration of such a system is shown in Figure 11-1.

The most straightforward application of this type of system simply chains the output of one queue to the input of the next queue. But as systems become more complicated there are a series of different patterns that emerge for linking a series of work queues together. Understanding and designing in terms of these patterns is important for comprehending how the system is working. The operation of an event-driven batch processor is similar to event-driven ...

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