Data-intensive analytical applications need to support both efficient reads and writes. However, what is usually a good data layout for an update-heavy workload, is not well-suited for a read-mostly one and vice versa. Modern analytical data systems rely on columnar layouts and employ delta stores to inject new data and updates.
We show that for hybrid workloads we can achieve close to one order of magnitude better performance by tailoring the column layout design to the data and query workload. Our approach navigates the possible design space of the physical layout: it organizes each column’s data by determining the number of partitions, their corresponding sizes and ranges, and the amount of buffer space and how it is allocated. We frame these design decisions as an optimization problem that, given workload knowledge and performance requirements, provides an optimal physical layout for the workload at hand. To evaluate this work, we build an in-memory storage engine, Casper, and we show that it outperforms state-of-the-art data layouts of analytical systems for hybrid workloads. Casper deliv- ers up to 2.32× higher throughput for update-intensive workloads and up to 2.14× higher throughput for hybrid workloads. We further show how to make data layout decisions robust to workload variation by carefully selecting the input of the optimization.