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From "Philip O'Toole" <>
Subject Re: Guaranteeing globally unique TimeUUID's in a high throughput distributed system
Date Sat, 16 Mar 2013 21:56:32 GMT
On Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM, Josh Dzielak <> wrote:
> Thanks Philip. I see where you are coming from; that'd be much simpler and
> avoid these bumps.
> The only downside is that I'd have to separately maintain an index of event
> timestamps that reflected when they happened according to the client. That
> way when the client asks for 'events last Wednesday' I give them the right
> answer even if the events were recorded in Cassandra today. I think it's at
> least worth weighing against the other solution.

Way ahead of you. Use wide-rows, and use the UUID to create a
composite column key. like so:


This guarantees a unique ID for *every* event.

And use the "event_time % (some interval you choose)" as your row key
(many events will then have this as their row key). This makes it easy
to find the events within a given range by performing the modulo math
on the requested time range (you must choose the interval as part of
your design, and stick with it). You do not need a secondary index.

> On Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 2:40 PM, Philip O'Toole wrote:
> On Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 2:24 PM, Josh Dzielak <> wrote:
> I have a system where a client sends me arbitrary JSON events containing a
> timestamp at millisecond resolution. The timestamp is used to generate
> column names of type TimeUUIDType.
> The problem I run into is this - if I client sends me 2 events with the same
> timestamp, the TimeUUID that gets generated for each is the same, and we get
> 1 insert and 1 update instead of 2 inserts. I might be running many
> processes (in my case Storm supervisors) on the same node, so the
> machine-specific part of the UUID doesn't help.
> I have noticed how the Cassandra UUIDGen class lets you work around this. It
> has a 'createTimeSafe' method that adds extra precision to the timestamp
> such that you can actually get up to 10k unique UUID's for the same
> millisecond. That works pretty good for a single process (although it's
> still possible to go over 10k, it's unlikely in our actual production
> scenario). It does make searches at boundary conditions a little
> unpredictable – 'equal' may or may not work depending on whether extra ns
> intervals were added – but I can live with that.)
> However, this still leaves vulnerability across a distributed system. If 2
> events arrive in 2 processes at the exact same millisecond, one will
> overwrite the other. If events keep flowing to each process evenly over the
> course of the millisecond, we'll be left with roughly half the events we
> should have. To work around this, I add a distinct 'component id' to my row
> keys that roughly equates to a Storm worker or a JVM process I can cheaply
> synchronize.
> The real problem is that this trick of adding ns intervals only works when
> you are generating timestamps from the current time (or any time that's
> always increasing). As I mentioned before, my client might be providing a
> past or future timestamp, and I have to find a way to make sure each one is
> unique.
> For example, a client might send me 10k events with the same millisecond
> timestamp today, and 10k again tomorrow. Using the standard Java library
> stuff to generate UUID's, I'd end up with only 1 event stored, not 20,000.
> The warning in UUIDGen.getTimeUUIDBytes is clear about this.
> It is a mistake, IMHO, to use the timestamp contained within the event
> to generate the time-based UUID. While it will work, it suffers from
> exactly the problem you describe. Instead, use the clock of the host
> system to generate the timestamp. In otherwords, the event timestamp
> may be different from the timestamp in the UUID. In fact, it *will* be
> different, if the rate gets fast enough (since the 100ns period clock
> used to generate time-based UUIDs may not be fine-grained enough, and
> the UUID timestamp will increase as explained by RFC4122).
> Adapting the ns-adding 'trick' to this problem requires synchronized
> external state (i.e. storing that the current ns interval for millisecond
> 12330982383 is 1234, etc) - definitely a non-starter.
> So, my dear, and far more seasoned Cassandra users, do you have any
> suggestions for me?
> Should I drop TimeUUID altogether and just make column names a combination
> of millisecond and a big enough random part to be safe? e.g.
> '1363467790212-a6c334fefda'. Would I be able to run proper slice queries if
> I did this? What other problems might crop up? (It seems too easy :)
> Or should I just create a normal random UUID for every event as the column
> key and create the non-unique index by time in some other way?
> Would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, and off-the-wall ideas!
> PS- I assume this could be a problem in any system (not just Cassandra)
> where you want to use 'time' as a unique index yet might have multiple
> records for the same time. So any solutions from other realms could be
> useful too.
> --
> Josh Dzielak
> VP Engineering • Keen IO
> Twitter • @dzello
> Mobile • 773-540-5264

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