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Definition SMACK stack

The SMACK stack is a collection of technologies composed to build a resilient and distributed data processing architecture to enable real-time data-analysis and fast deployment. The acronym SMACK stands for the Spark engine, the Mesos manager, the Akka toolkit and runtime, the Cassandra database and the Kafka message broker. All components except for Akka are Apache projects. The software is open source and production-proven at scale. By using this loosely coupled toolchain of technologies, it's possible to create a private cloud platform to handle large amounts of data and avoid cloud vendor lock-in at the same time.


Spark is an engine for large-scale data processing and makes it easy to build parallel applications or batch jobs. An advantage over Hadoop MapReduce is a superior performance. Users have the ability to query structured data using Spark SQL. Furthermore, Spark Streaming addresses real-time use cases: Incoming data is chunked into micro batches and processed separately.


Mesos is a scheduling framework to manage clusters. It provides resources for applications, services, and jobs and abstracts the underlying hardware. The workload is distributed across the cluster. The distributed operating system DC/OS, built on top of Mesos, simplifies deployment and scaling of containerized applications.


Akka is an implementation of the Actor Model and allows creating message-driven applications in Scala or Java. The toolkit is inspired by the language Erlang and its fault-tolerance is due to actor based concurrency. Actors can modify local state but won't expose it. Instead, they use asynchronous messages to interact with other actors.


Cassandra is a NoSQL database. It is a wide column store and can be seen as a two-dimensional key-value store. Cassandra's query operations are limited in order to guarantee performance and linear, horizontal scaling. There is no single point of failure and it's possible to span a Cassandra cluster across data centers.


Kafka is a distributed messaging system which is well-known for low latency and high availability and throughput. Kafka is using a shared commit log internally. It can replay the log which is its unique selling point. Producers publish messages to publish-subscribe message queues. Kafka partitions the data within a topic. Partitions can be distributed to cluster nodes and consumers receive the requested messages.

SMACK Stack: Spark, Mesos, Akka, Cassandra, Kafka


Andreas Scharf / Senior Software Architect / Business Division New Business

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