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Lightning fast NoSQL with Spring Data Redis

Dr. Xinyu Liu | May 25, 2016
6 uses cases for Redis in server-side Java applications

A multi-tiered architecture built on top of Java EE presents a powerful server-side programming solution. As a Java EE developer for many years, I've been mostly satisfied with a three-tiered approach for enterprise development: a JPA/Hibernate persistence layer at the bottom, a Spring or EJB application layer in the middle, and a web tier on top. For more complex use cases I've integrated a workflow-driven solution with BPM (business process management), a rules engine like Drools, and an integration framework such as Camel.

Recently, however, I was tasked to design a system supporting hundreds of thousands of concurrent users, with sub-second response latency. I immediately saw the limits of my normal Java EE stack. Conventional RDBMS-based web applications, including those built on Hibernate/JPA, have second-order latency and do not scale well. A traditional Java EE persistence architecture would not meet the performance and throughput requirements for the system I was designing. I turned to NoSQL, and eventually found Redis.

Being an in-memory key-value datastore, Redis breaks from the conventional definition of a database, where data is saved on a hard drive. Instead, it can be used in combination with a persistent NoSQL datastore such as MongoDB, HBase, Cassandra, or DynamoDB. Redis excels as a remote cache server, and is an exceptionally fast datastore for volatile data.

In this article I introduce simple and advanced use cases and performance tuning with Redis. I'll provide a brief overview, but I assume you are basically familiar with NoSQL and the variety of solutions available in that field.

Spring Data Redis

Redis has client libraries for almost every programming language, including Java. Jedis is perhaps the most popular Java client library. Examples in this article are based on Spring Data Redis, which I've used as a higher level wrapper API. Spring Data Redis offers easy configuration, friendly APIs, and useful add-ons.

Overview of Redis

Like most NoSQL data stores, Redis abandons the relational concepts of tables, rows, and columns. Instead, it is a key-value data store, where each record is stored and retrieved using a unique string key. Redis supports the following built-in data structures as the value of all records:

  • STRING holds a single string value.
  • LIST, SET, and HASH are semantically identical to the same data structures in Java.
  • ZSET is a list of strings ordered by float-point score, resembling PriorityQueue in Java.

Unlike tables in RDBMS, Redis data structures are instantiated on the fly. When you query anything not existing in Redis, it simply returns null. Although Redis doesn't allow nested structures, you can implement a custom Java or JSON serializer/deserializer to map POJOs to strings. In this way, you can save an arbitrary Java bean as a STRING, or place it in a LIST, a SET, and so on.


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