Drill Iceberg Metastore

Jan 31, 2020

Drill uses Iceberg Metastore implementation based on Iceberg tables. For Drill 1.17, this is default Drill Metastore implementation. For details on how to configure Iceberg Metastore implementation and its option descriptions, please refer to Iceberg Metastore docs.


Iceberg table supports concurrent writes and transactions but they are only effective on file systems that support atomic rename. If the file system does not support atomic rename, it could lead to inconsistencies during concurrent writes.

Iceberg Tables Location

Iceberg tables will reside on the file system in the location based on Iceberg Metastore base location drill.metastore.iceberg.location.base_path and component specific location. If Iceberg Metastore base location is /drill/metastore/iceberg and tables component location is tables. Iceberg table for tables component will be located in /drill/metastore/iceberg/tables folder.

Metastore metadata will be stored inside Iceberg table location provided in the configuration file. Drill table metadata location will be constructed based on specific component storage keys. For example, for tables component, storage keys are storage plugin, workspace and table name: unique table identifier in Drill.

Assume Iceberg table location is /drill/metastore/iceberg/tables, metadata for the table dfs.tmp.nation will be stored in the /drill/metastore/iceberg/tables/dfs/tmp/nation folder.

Example of base Metastore configuration file drill-metastore-override.conf, where Iceberg tables will be stored in hdfs:

drill.metastore.iceberg: {
  config.properties: {
    fs.defaultFS: "hdfs:///"

  location: {
    base_path: "/drill/metastore",
    relative_path: "iceberg"

Metadata Storage Format

Iceberg tables support data storage in three formats: Parquet, Avro, ORC. Drill metadata will be stored in Parquet files. This format was chosen over others since it is column oriented and efficient in terms of disk I/O when specific columns need to be queried.

Each Parquet file will hold information for one partition. Partition keys will depend on Metastore component characteristics. For example, for tables component, partitions keys are storage plugin, workspace, table name and metadata key.

Parquet files name will be based on UUID to ensure uniqueness. If somehow collision occurs, modify operation in Metastore will fail.

Iceberg metadata expiration

Iceberg table generates metadata for each modification operation: snapshot, manifest file, table metadata file. Also when performing delete operation, previously stored data files are not deleted. These files with the time can occupy lots of space. Two table properties write.metadata.delete-after-commit.enabled and write.metadata.previous-versions-max control expiration process. Metadata files will be expired automatically if write.metadata.delete-after-commit.enabled is enabled.