How YARN Changed Hadoop Job Scheduling

Capacity Scheduler

Hadoop's Capacity Scheduler was designed to provide minimum levels of resource availability to multiple users on the same cluster (aka multitenancy). Part of the power of Hadoop is having many nodes. The more worker nodes provided in a single cluster, the more resilient it is to failures. In large organizations with independent budgets, individual department heads might think it best to set up individual clusters to obtain resource isolation. Multitenancy can be accomplished logically using the Capacity Scheduler. The benefit of this design is not only better cluster utilization but also the improvement of system stability. Using more nodes decreases the importance of any one node in a node loss scenario by spreading out data as well as increasing cluster data and compute capacity.

The Capacity Scheduler functions through a series of queues. This includes hierarchical queues each with properties associated to direct the sharing of resources. The main resources include memory and CPU at this time. When writing an Application Master, the container requests can include resource requests, such as node resource (memory and CPU), a specific host name, a specific rack and a priority.

The capacity-scheduler.xml file contains the definition of queues and their properties. The settings in this file include capacity and percentage maximums along with total number of jobs allowed to be running at one time. In a multitenant environment, multiple child queues can be created below the root queue. Each queue configuration contains a share of resources to be consumed by itself or shared with its children.

It's also common to see the use of access control lists for users of queues. Each queue in this case would receive a minimum capacity guaranteed by the scheduler. When other queues are below their capacity, another queue can use additional resources up to its configured maximum (hard limit).

Configurable preemption was added in Hadoop 2.1 for the capacity scheduler via ASF JIRA YARN-569. On the other hand, the complete isolation of resources so that no one job (AM or its containers) impedes the progress of another is accomplished in an operating-system-dependent way. Yes, Hadoop has matured so it will even run on Windows. For Linux, resource isolation is done via cgroups (control groups) and on Windows using job control. Future enhancements may even include the use of virtualization technologies, such as XEN and KVM, for resource isolation.

Fair Scheduler

The Fair Scheduler is another pluggable scheduling functionality for Hadoop under YARN. The Capacity and Fair Scheduler operate in a very similar manner although their nomenclature differs. Both systems schedule by memory and CPU; both systems use queues (previously called Pools) and attempt to provide a framework for sharing a common collection of resources. Fair Scheduler uses the concept of a minimum number of shares to enforce a minimum amount of resource availability with excess resources being shared with other queues. There are many similarities but a few nice unique features as well. Scheduling policy itself is customizable by queue and can include three options including FIFO, Fair Share (by memory) and a Dominant Resource Fairness (using both CPU and memory) that does its best to balance the needs of divergent workloads over time.

The yarn-site.xml file can include a number of Fair Scheduler settings including the default queue. A unique setting includes an option to turn on preemption that was previously preemption by killing and now includes a work-saving preemption option. One of the most important options in yarn-site.xml includes the allocation file location. The allocation file details queues, resource allotments as well as a queue-specific scheduling algorithm in XML.

YARN Scheduler Load Simulator

How should one choose between the two main options available? More important, how are the configurations tuned for optimal performance? The YARN Scheduler Load Simulator is a convenient tool for investigating options for scheduling via the options available to Hadoop. The simulator works with a real Resource Manager but simulates the Node Manager and Application Masters so that a fully distributed cluster is not required to analyze scheduling policy. One of the new configuration best practices should be possible to include time for scheduler tuning when initially setting up a new Hadoop cluster. This can be followed by analysis of scheduling policy at an interval going forward for continued optimization. Regardless of what type of scheduling is selected or how it is configured, there now is a tool to help each group determine what is best for its needs.

Figure 3. YARN Scheduler Simulator output showing memory and vcores for a queue.

Scheduler simulation is a very technical field of study and something commercial HPC workload offerings have desperately needed for years. It is exciting to see a concrete method for analysis of Hadoop workloads, especially considering the effect a small change can make in throughput and utilization on a distributed system.


Hadoop workload scheduling, much like the rest of Hadoop, is growing by leaps and bounds. With each release, more resource types and scheduling features become available, and it is exciting to see the convergence of Internet-scale distributed computing with the field of HPC that has been available for many years. One might argue some features from HPC workload management are needed in Hadoop. Examples, such as SLA-based scheduling and time-based policies are important operational examples of policies administrators expect. From a resource perspective, additional resource types also are needed. The pace at which the open-source model innovates surely will close the gaps very soon. The participation of multiple groups and contributors in a meritocracy-based system drives not only the pace of innovation but quality as well.


Original YARN JIRA:

Hamster Project:


Apache Capacity Scheduler Site:

Capacity Scheduler Preemption:

Apache Fair Scheduler Site:

Work-Saving Preemption:

YARN Scheduler Load Simulator:

YARN Scheduler Load Simulator Demo:


Adam Diaz is a longtime Linux geek and fan of distributed/parallel systems. Adam cut his teeth working for companies like Platform Computing, Altair Engineering and a handful of startups.