Elasticsearch highlightsedit

This list summarizes the most important enhancements in Elasticsearch 7.0.0. For the complete list, go to Elasticsearch release highlights.

Adaptive replica selection enabled by defaultedit

In Elasticsearch 6.x and prior, a series of search requests to the same shard would be forwarded to the primary and each replica in round-robin fashion. This could prove problematic if one node starts a long garbage collection --- search requests could still be forwarded to the slow node regardless and would have an impact on search latency.

In 6.1, we added an experimental adaptive replica selection feature. Each node tracks and compares how long search requests to other nodes take, and uses this information to adjust how frequently to send requests to shards on particular nodes. In our benchmarks, this results in an overall improvement in search throughput and reduced 99th percentile latencies.

This option was disabled by default throughout 6.x, but we’ve heard feedback from our users that have found the setting to be very beneficial, so we’ve turned it on by default starting in Elasticsearch 7.0.0.

Skip shard refreshes if a shard is "search idle"edit

Elasticsearch 6.x and prior refreshed indices automatically in the background, by default every second. This provides the “near real-time” search capabilities Elasticsearch is known for: results are available for search requests within one second after they’d been added, by default. However, this behavior has a significant impact on indexing performance if the refreshes are not needed, (e.g., if Elasticsearch isn’t servicing any active searches).

Elasticsearch 7.0 is much smarter about this behavior by introducing the notion of a shard being "search idle". A shard now transitions to being search idle after it hasn’t had any searches for thirty seconds, by default. Once a shard is search idle, all scheduled refreshes will be skipped until a search comes through, which will trigger the next scheduled refresh. We know that this is going to significantly increase the indexing throughput for many users. The new behavior is only applied if there is no explicit refresh interval set, so do set the refresh interval explicitly for any indices on which you prefer the old behavior.

Default to one shardedit

One of the biggest sources of troubles we’ve seen over the years from our users has been over-sharding and defaults play a big role in that. In Elasticsearch 6.x and prior, we defaulted to five shards by default per index. If you had one daily index for ten different applications and each had the default of five shards, you were creating fifty shards per day and it wasn’t long before you had thousands of shards even if you were only indexing a few gigabytes of data per day. Index Lifecycle Management was a first step to help with this: providing native rollover functions to create indexes by size instead of (just) by day and built-in shrink functionality to shrink the number of shards per index. Defaulting indices to one shard is the next step in helping to reduce over-sharding. Of course, if you have another preferred primary shard count, you can set it via the index settings.

Lucene 8edit

As with every major release, we look to support the latest major version of Lucene, along with all the goodness that comes with it. That includes all the developments that we contributed to the new Lucene version. Elasticsearch 7.0 bundles Lucene 8, which is the latest version of Lucene. Lucene version 8 serves as the foundation for many functional improvements in the rest of Elasticsearch, including improved search performance for top-k queries and better ways to combine relevance signals for your searches while still maintaining speed.

Introduce the ability to minimize round-trips in cross-cluster searchedit

In Elasticsearch 5.3, we released a feature called cross-cluster search for users to query across multiple clusters. We’ve since improved on the cross-cluster search framework, adding features to ultimately use it to deprecate and replace tribe nodes as a way to federate queries. In Elasticsearch 7.0, we’re adding a new execution mode for cross-cluster search: one which has fewer round-trips when they aren’t necessary. This mode (ccs_minimize_roundtrips) can result in faster searches when the cross-cluster search query spans high-latencies (e.g., across a WAN).

New cluster coordination implementationedit

Since the beginning, we focused on making Elasticsearch easy to scale and resilient to catastrophic failures. To support these requirements, we created a pluggable cluster coordination system, with the default implementation known as Zen Discovery. Zen Discovery was meant to be effortless, and give our users peace of mind (as the name implies). The meteoric rise in Elasticsearch usage has taught us a great deal. For instance, Zen’s minimum_master_nodes setting was often misconfigured, which put clusters at a greater risk of split brains and losing data. Maintaining this setting across large and dynamically resizing clusters was also difficult.

In Elasticsearch 7.0, we have completely rethought and rebuilt the cluster coordination layer. The new implementation gives safe sub-second master election times, where Zen may have taken several seconds to elect a new master, valuable time for a mission-critical deployment. With the minimum_master_nodes setting removed, growing and shrinking clusters becomes safer and easier, and leaves much less room to misconfigure the system. Most importantly, the new cluster coordination layer gives us strong building blocks for the future of Elasticsearch, ensuring we can build functionality for even more advanced use-cases to come.

Better support for small heaps (the real-memory circuit breaker)edit

Elasticsearch 7.0 adds an all-new circuit breaker that keeps track of the total memory used by the JVM and will reject requests if they would cause the reserved plus actual heap usage to exceed 95%. We’ll also be changing the default maximum buckets to return as part of an aggregation (search.max_buckets) to 10,000, which is unbounded by default in 6.x and prior. These two show great signs at seriously improving the out-of-memory protection of Elasticsearch in 7.x, helping you keep your cluster alive even in the face of adversarial or novice users running large queries and aggregations.

Cross-cluster replication is production-readyedit

We introduced Cross-cluster replication as a beta feature in Elasticsearch 6.5. Cross-cluster replication was the most heavily requested features for Elasticsearch. We’re excited to announce Cross-cluster replication is now generally available and ready for production use in Elasticsearch 6.7 and 7.0! Cross-cluster replication has a variety of use cases, including cross-datacenter and cross-region replication, replicating data to get closer to the application server and user, and maintaining a centralized reporting cluster replicated from a large number of smaller clusters.

In addition to maturing to a GA feature, there were a number of important technical advancements in CCR for 6.7 and 7.0. Previous versions of Cross-cluster replication required replication to start on new indices only: existing indices could not be replicated. Cross-cluster replication can now start replicating existing indices that have soft deletes enabled in 6.7 and 7.0, and new indices default to having soft deletes enabled. We also introduced new technology to prevent a follower index from falling fatally far behind its leader index. We’ve added a management UI in Kibana for configuring remote clusters, indices to replicate, and index naming patterns for automatic replication (e.g. for replicating metricbeat-* indices). We’ve also added a monitoring UI for insight into cross-cluster replication progress and alerting on errors. Check out the Getting started with cross-cluster replication guide, or visit the reference documentation to learn more.

Index lifecycle management is production-readyedit

Index Lifecycle Management (ILM) was released as a beta feature in Elasticsearch 6.6. We’ve officially moved ILM out of beta and into GA, ready for production usage! ILM makes it easy to manage the lifecycle of data in Elasticsearch, including how data progresses between hot, warm, cold, and deletion phases. Specific rules regarding how data moves through these phases can be created via APIs in Elasticsearch, or a beautiful management UI in Kibana.

In Elasticsearch 6.7 and 7.0, ILM can now manage frozen indices. Frozen indices are valuable for long term data storage in Elasticsearch, and require a smaller amount of memory (heap) in relation to the amount of data managed by a node. In 6.7 and 7.0, frozen indices can now be frozen as part of the cold phase in ILM. In addition, ILM now works directly with Cross-Cluster Replication (CCR), which also GA’d in the Elasticsearch 6.7 and 7.0 releases. The potential actions available in each ILM phase can be found in the documentation. ILM is free to use and part of the default distribution of Elasticsearch.

SQL is production-readyedit

The SQL interface to Elasticsearch is now GA. Introduced in 6.3 as an alpha release, the SQL interface allows developers and data scientists familiar with SQL to use the speed, scalability, and full-text power of Elasticsearch that others know and love. It also allows BI tools using SQL to easily access data in Elasticsearch. In addition to approving SQL access as a GA feature in Elasticsearch, we’ve designated our JDBC and ODBC drivers as GA. There are four methods to access Elasticsearch SQL: through the Elasticsearch REST endpoints, the Elasticsearch SQL command line interface, the JDBC driver, and the ODBC driver.

High-level REST client is feature-completeedit

If you’ve been following our blog or our GitHub repository, you may be aware of a task we’ve been working on for quite a while now: creating a next-generation Java client for accessing an Elasticsearch cluster. We started off by working on the most commonly-used features like search and aggregations, and have been working our way through administrative and monitoring APIs. Many of you that use Java are already using this new client, but for those that are still using the TransportClient, now is a great time to upgrade to our High Level REST Client, or HLRC.

As of 7.0.0, the HLRC now has all the API checkboxes checked to call it “complete” so those of you still using the TransportClient should be able to migrate. We’ll of course continue to develop our REST APIs and will add them to this client as we go. For a list of all of the APIs that are available, have a look at our HLRC documentation. To get started, have a look at the getting started with the HLRC section of our docs and if you need help migrating from the TransportClient, have a look at our migration guide.

Support nanosecond timestampsedit

Up until 7.0 Elasticsearch could only store timestamps with millisecond precision. If you wanted to process events that occur at a higher rate — for example if you want to store and analyze tracing or network packet data in Elasticsearch — you may want higher precision. Historically, we have used the Joda time library to handle dates and times, and Joda lacked support for such high precision timestamps.

With JDK 8, an official Java time API has been introduced which can also handle nanosecond precision timestamps and over the past year, we’ve been working to migrate our Joda time usage to the native Java time while trying to maintain backwards compatibility. As of 7.0.0, you can now make use of these nanosecond timestamps via a dedicated date_nanos field mapper. Note that aggregations are still on a millisecond resolution with this field to avoid having an explosion of buckets.

Faster retrieval of top hitsedit

When it comes to search, query performance is a key feature. We have achieved a significant improvement to search performance in Elasticsearch 7.0 for situations in which the exact hit count is not needed and it is sufficient to set a lower boundary to the number of results. For example, if your users typically just look at the first page of results on your site and don’t care about exactly how many documents matched, you may be able to show them “more than 10,000 hits” and then provide them with paginated results. It’s quite common to have users enter frequently-occurring terms like “the” and “a” in their queries, which has historically forced Elasticsearch to score a lot of documents even when those frequent terms couldn’t possibly add much to the score.

In these conditions Elasticsearch can now skip calculating scores for records that are identified at an early stage as records that will not be ranked at the top of the result set. This can significantly improve the query speed. The actual number of top results that are scored is configurable, but the default is 10,000. The behavior of queries that have a result set that is smaller than this threshold will not change - i.e. the results count is accurate but there is no performance improvement for queries that match a small number of documents. Because the improvement is based on skipping low ranking records, it does not apply to aggregations. You can read more about this powerful algorithmic development in our blog post Magic WAND: Faster Retrieval of Top Hits in Elasticsearch.

Support for TLS 1.3edit

Elasticsearch has supported encrypted communications for a long time, however, we recently started supporting JDK 11, which gives us new capabilities. JDK 11 now has TLSv1.3 support so starting with 7.0, we’re now supporting TLSv1.3 within Elasticsearch for those of you running JDK 11. In order to help new users from inadvertently running with low security, we’ve also dropped TLSv1.0 from our defaults. For those running older versions of Java, we have default options of TLSv1.2 and TLSv1.1. Have a look at our TLS setup instructions if you need help getting started.

Bundle JDK in Elasticsearch distributionedit

One of the more prominent "getting started hurdles" we’ve seen users run into has been not knowing that Elasticsearch is a Java application and that they need to install one of the supported JDKs first. With 7.0, we’re now bundling a distribution of OpenJDK to help users get started with Elasticsearch even faster. We understand that some users have preferred JDK distributions, so we also support bringing your own JDK. If you want to bring your own JDK, you can still do so by setting JAVA_HOME before starting Elasticsearch.

Rank featuresedit

Elasticsearch 7.0 has several new field types to get the most out of your data. Two to help with core search use cases are rank_feature and rank_features. These can be used to boost documents based on numeric or categorical values while still maintaining the performance of the new fast top hits query capabilities. For more information on these fields and how to use them, read our blog post.

JSON loggingedit

JSON logging is now enabled in Elasticsearch in addition to plaintext logs. Starting in 7.0, you will find new files with .json extensions in your log directory. This means you can now use filtering tools like jq to pretty print and process your logs in a much more structured manner. You can also expect finding additional information like node.id, cluster.uuid, type (and more) in each log line. The type field per each JSON log line will let you to distinguish log streams when running on docker.

Script score query (aka function score 2.0)edit

With 7.0, we are introducing the next generation of our function score capability. This new script_score query provides a new, simpler, and more flexible way to generate a ranking score per record. The script_score query is constructed of a set of functions, including arithmetic and distance functions, which the user can mix and match to construct arbitrary function score calculations. The modular structure is simpler to use and will open this important functionality to additional users.