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Introducing Predictive Optimization: Faster Queries, Cheaper Storage, No Sweat

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We’re excited to announce the Public Preview of Databricks Predictive Optimization. This capability intelligently optimizes your table data layouts for improved performance and cost-efficiency.

Predictive Optimization leverages Unity Catalog and Lakehouse AI to determine the best optimizations to perform on your data, and then runs those operations on purpose-built serverless infrastructure. This significantly simplifies your lakehouse journey, freeing up your time to focus on getting business value from your data.

This capability is the latest in a long line of Databricks capabilities which harness AI to predictively perform actions based on your data and its access patterns. Previously, we released Predictive I/O for reads and updates, which apply these techniques when executing read and update queries. 


Lakehouse tables greatly benefit from background optimizations which improve their data layouts. This includes compaction of files to ensure proper file sizes, or vacuuming to clean up unneeded data files. Proper optimization significantly improves performance while driving down costs.

However, this creates an ongoing challenge for data engineering teams, who need to figure out: 

  • Which optimizations to run?
  • Which tables should be optimized?
  • How often to run these optimizations?

As lakehouse platforms grow in scale, and become increasingly self-service, platform teams find it virtually impossible to answer these questions effectively. A recurring sentiment we have heard from our customers is that they cannot keep up with optimizing the number of tables created from all the new business use cases.

Furthermore, even once these thorny questions are answered, teams still must deal with the operational burden of scheduling and running these optimizations - e.g., scheduling jobs, diagnosing failures, and managing the underlying infrastructure. 

How Predictive Optimization works

With Predictive Optimization, Databricks tackles these thorny problems for you, freeing up your valuable time to focus on driving business value with your data. Predictive Optimization can be enabled with a single button click. From there, it does all the heavy lifting.

Databricks intelligently determines the best schedule of optimizations, runs those optimizations, and logs their impact in a systems table for easy observability

First, Predictive Optimization intelligently determines which optimizations to run, and how often to run them. Our AI model considers a wide range of inputs, including the usage patterns of your tables, and their existing data layout and performance characteristics. It then outputs the ideal optimization schedule, weighing the expected benefits of optimization against the expected compute costs. 

Once the schedule is generated, Predictive Optimization automatically runs these optimizations on the purpose-built serverless infrastructure. It automatically handles spinning up the correct number and size of machines, and ensures that optimization tasks are properly binpacked and scheduled for optimal efficiency. 

The whole system runs end-to-end without the need for manual tweaking and tuning, and learns from your organization’s usage over time, optimizing the tables that matter to your organization while deprioritizing those that don’t. You are billed only for the serverless compute required to perform the optimizations. Out-of-the-box, all operations are logged in a system table, so you can easily audit and understand the impact and cost of the operations.


In the last few months, we have enrolled a number of customers in the private preview program for Predictive Optimization. Many have observed that it is able to find the sweet spot between two common extremes:

Side by side images show the tradeoffs between query performance and cost between no optimizations at all and daily, manual optimizations.

On one extreme, some organizations haven’t yet stood up sophisticated table optimization pipelines. With Predictive Optimization, they can instantly start optimizing their tables without figuring out the best optimization schedule or managing infrastructure.

On the other extreme, some organizations may be over-investing in optimization. For example, for a team automating their optimization pipelines, it’s tempting to run hourly or daily OPTIMIZE or VACUUM jobs. However, these stand the risk of diminishing returns. Might the same performance gains be achieved with fewer optimization operations? 

Predictive Optimization helps find the right balance, ensuring that optimizations are run only with high return on investment:

Side by side graphs show that for both query performance and cost, Predictive Optimization finds the right balance and only runs optimizations with high return on investment.

As a concrete example, the Data Engineering team at Anker enabled Predictive Optimization and quickly realized these benefits: 


Anker company logo2x query speed-up

50% reduction in annual storage costs

graph of annual storage costs over time

“Databricks’ Predictive Optimizations intelligently optimized our Unity Catalog storage, which saved us 50% in annual storage costs while speeding up our queries by >2x. It learned to prioritize our largest and most-accessed tables. And, it did all of this automatically, saving our team valuable time.”

-- Shu Li, Data Engineering Lead, Anker

Get started

Starting today, Predictive Optimization is available in Public Preview. Enabling it should take less than five minutes. As an account admin, simply go to the account console > settings > feature enablement tab, and toggle on the Predictive Optimization setting:

Set the Predictive optimization field in Account console > Settings > Feature Enablement

In just a click, you’ll get the power of AI-optimized data layouts across your Unity Catalog managed tables, making your data faster and more cost-effective. See the documentation for more information.

And we are just getting started here. In the coming months, we will continue to add more optimizations to the capability. Stay tuned for much more to come.

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