Deploying Insights Analytics on Open edX is an extremely complicated issue. Several teams within edX and the consultancy OpenCraft have started a collaboration “to address some of the pain points around Insights Analytics setup, deployment, maintenance, and deployment”. Plans have been outlined on this Google document. This is a summary of all of the difficulties from the Analytics Team:
- Maintaining jobs on the scheduler is a highly manual and rather difficult process
- Jobs fail periodically, we should identify all common causes and resolve them
- Schema changes are very painful (see the process above)
- The AWS configuration is rather complex and difficult to replicate
- The pipeline should be installed like every other component in the edX infrastructure. Currently it is not.
- We should seriously consider deprecating edx-analytics-configuration and just merging it into the edx/configuration monolith.
- The analyticstack (devstack) lags behind quite a bit and takes some manual intervention to generate new versions of. It also doesn’t support Elasticsearch 1.5, which is used by currently-in-development features in Insights. We’d like to move this into Docker.
- Centralize event collection. We should probably be using Kafka or something similar.
- Non-AWS configuration is rather complex and difficult to setup, which is very painful for the open source community.
- Lack of documentation
- Problems setting up edX Analytics Devstack (process took a long time, was impossible to complete for one team member; overall complexity of the stack made it difficult to distribute work to additional team members as needed)
- Problems with Hadoop version conflicts (fixed at the time via a couple of PRs: #128, #127), not really an issue anymore
- No (straightforward) way to run acceptance tests for edx-analytics-pipeline
- Using Analytics in production:
- Many steps required to install the stack (partly due to Ansible scripts making assumptions about, e.g., AWS regions)
- Many steps required to configure Jenkins (manually creating jobs and setting parameters/interval for each Analytics task, etc.)
- The number of PRs required to implement major changes slows work down (these types of changes often require PRs in four different repos; see “Dependencies” in this example)
- Not being able to merge PRs implementing work done for clients; having to maintain changes separately
- Deciding where to add different types of functionality (instructor dashboard vs. insights) was not straightforward in some cases
Success! Our #OpenEdX instance has a fully functional #analytics pipeline. Who else has come this far? @OpenEdX pic.twitter.com/meRTy9jJ4R
— Lorena Barba (@LorenaABarba) December 3, 2015