Replacing Mulgara with Blazegraph for High-Performance Low-Level Storage

Use Cases & User Stories

  • As a repository administrator, I expect to be able to ingest millions of objects into an ISLE-based system without incurring significant performance degradation.

New Functionality

  • The new isle-blazegraph image was built using Blazegraph™ which is a ultra high-performance graph database supporting Apache TinkerPop™ and RDF/SPARQL APIs. It supports up to 50 Billion edges on a single machine. Formerly known as BigData. The intended use is solely for maintaining performant support of large Fedora repositories containing millions of objects.

  • Why use this component with ISLE?

    • Islandora users who have Fedora repositories with over 600K~ objects ingested have reported issues with using the default Mulgara triplestore used for indexing objects ingested into the Fedora repository. These issues include crashes, extreme performance slowdowns, system timeouts and more. Blazegraph is used to replace Mulgara as the triplestore and to deliver a higher level of performance for larger Fedora repositories. Please note the threshold given above for object count is an compilation of the anecdotal ranges gathered by the Islandora community. In some cases the number is as low as 600K~ when end users report challenges, others haven't encountered issues until the 1 million object count.
  • How can I tell how many Fedora objects I have to determine if I should use this component?

    • Walkthrough on getting triple counts. (TO DO)
  • A new Fedora image that has slight image and functional changes is required to be used in tandem with Blazegraph. These image changes are primarily edits to the fedora.fcg file to use Blazegraph instead of Mulgara.

  • Additionally, a new confd configuration within the Fedora image and linked environmental variable has been added to the .env to allow users to "toggle" between Blazegraph and Mulgara as desired. In the event a user toggles between either desired triplestore, a reindex of the Fedora repository is required. With Fedora repositories of 600K+ objects or more, the indexing process will take double-digit hours to days depending on the complexity of the object relationships, ontology, etc.

  • No new software is required to be installed on the ISLE host machine, only new Docker containers, images and configurations are added to the ISLE platform.

System Requirements

  • ISLE release version 1.4.2
  • git clone

ISLE Images

Service Repository Tag
Apache islandoracollabgroup/isle-apache 1.4.2
Blazegraph islandoracollabgroup/isle-blazegraph 1.4.2
Fedora islandoracollabgroup/isle-fedora 1.4.2
Image-services islandoracollabgroup/isle-imageservices 1.4.2
MySQL islandoracollabgroup/isle-mysql 1.4.2
Portainer portainer/portainer latest
Solr islandoracollabgroup/isle-solr 1.4.2
Traefik traefik/traefik 1.7.9
  • Additional systems overhead, including:

  • Add an additional 2 GB RAM in total ISLE Host memory for Blazegraph to run

  • Plan on an additional 25-100+ GB disk space for "big_data" resource index persistence if running on Staging and/or Production ISLE instances.

    • This index (/var/bigdata/bigdata.jnl) will grow quickly overtime and file sizes of over 25GB or more are possible with Fedora repositories that have over 1 million objects.
  • To persist this file and directory in a bind-mount instead of a Docker volume, an edit will need to be made to the docker-compose.yml file in the blazegraph service, volume section.

    • Change isle-blazegraph-data to your ISLE Host system specific bind-mount path.
    • Example: - /mnt/isle-blazegraph-data:/var/bigdata
  • This disk should be a separate data disk that should be 25-100+ GB in capacity. Plan on resizing this disk when using Blazegraph with large Fedora repositories of over 600K+ of objects.

Adoption Process Overview

  • The installation instructions below will walk you through how to setup and run the optional Blazegraph container for use as an replacement triplestore for Fedora repositories with 600K+ of objects on either an ISLE demo or local instance.

  • You'll start by backing up all important data as needed.

  • You'll stop any running containers

  • You'll download ISLE images including a new ISLE image called isle-blazegraph

  • You'll make additional edits and modifications to the following ISLE configuration files:

    • docker-compose.local.yml
    • local.env
  • You'll restart your containers with the new services having been added and configured.

  • You'll re-index your Fedora Resource & SQL indices and ensure that the new Blazegraph triplestore is displaying triples.

  • You can optionally use and/or setup the new TICK stack to monitor this container and service on Staging and Production instances.



  • Prior to installation, end user will have a running ISLE system using the current release of 1.4.2 images.

  • This installation process will give the functionality as stated in the Systems Requirements image table above for Blazegraph testing and even TICK stack usage.

  • Assumes you're prepared to configure your ISLE system to use Blazegraph instead of the default Mulgara triplestore.

  • Assumes the new Blazegraph port 8084 will not be open to the public Internet only to select trusted administrators.

Installation Instructions

  • Shut down your running containers if any. Precautionary step.
  • docker-compose down

  • Within the environment (.env files e.g. demo.env, local.env etc) there is a new block of ENV variables to use.

    • If using Blazegraph, you will have to change the FEDORA_RESOURCE_INDEX=mulgara to FEDORA_RESOURCE_INDEX=blazegraph

    • Whether using Mulgara or Blazegraph, please leave the FEDORA_WEBAPP_HOME value to the default below.


### Fedora Resource Index
# Only one of two values (mulgara) or (blazegraph) can be used below for FEDORA_RESOURCE_INDEX 
# By DEFAULT the value of (mulgara) is used to set which type of Fedora Resource Index can be used
# If you would like to use blazegraph instead, you'll also need to use its image
# Please note: If you mistype or leave this value blank, more than likely Fedora won't work properly.

# Set below as a variable for Fedora to start up properly, helps with

## End Fedora Repository
  • On the demo and/or local instance, you will have to uncomment the volume at the bottom of the docker-compose.demo.yml or docker-compose.local.yml file to use Blazegraph.

  • Pull down the new isle images

  • docker-compose pull

  • Spin up new containers

  • docker-compose up -d

  • Wait a few minutes (3-8 depending on the size of your site) for the site and services to come up.

Check & Rebuild Fedora When Using Blazegraph

  • Question: Does Fedora start up properly?

    • Navigate to your domain e.g. http://yourdomain:8081/manager/html
    • Login using the correct admin / tomcat pw ) (check tomcat.env)
    • Click on the Fedora link or navigate to http://yourdomain:8081/fedora/objects and click search.
    • Objects might appear if working but they should only be a small amount of content models at this point.
  • If you have switched to Blazegraph, then you'll need to re-index the Fedora repository so that the new Blazegraph triplestore is used instead of the previously used Mulgara triplestore.

    • WARNING - With Fedora repositories of 600K+ objects or more, these indexing processes will take double-digit hours to days depending on the complexity of the object relationships, ontology, etc. when re-indexing on Staging or Production systems.

    • When re-indexing in this manner, we recommend the use of the screen program which will allow an end-user to disengage from a long continuous bash session and terminal based command without breaking the process. (optional and typically used more often in a Staging and/or Production environment). You may need to install screen on your ISLE host server. Skip this if using on a demo or local instance.

      • Ubuntu - sudo apt-get install screen
      • CentOS - sudo yum install screen
    • Once installed simply run screen in your terminal. You might be instructed to hit the Spacebar or the Return key to proceed with the screen session.

    • docker-exec -it isle-fedora-ld bash (Example for demo and/or local)

    • cd utility_scripts

    • ./

    • This process should start spewing out a large column of data

    • To disengage hold down the control key and the a key, then tap the d key. This will get you out of the screen session.

    • To check on the progress, simply type screen -r, check the progress and then disengage again.

    • Once that is complete run the SOLR reindex script

      • docker-exec -it isle-fedora-ld bash -c "/bin/sh /utility_scripts/
  • Verify it's working:

    • Navigate to "https://yourdomain" and you can still see the Drupal site. This may take a few minutes depending on the size of the site.

Check the Blazegraph Triples Count

Checking the triples count is an easy way to double-check if objects are being indexed properly and added to Blazegraph's triplestore.

To check the triples count in Blazegraph:

  • Navigate to the Blazegraph Admin panel http://isle.localdomain:8084/blazegraph/#query

    • Replace isle.localdomain with your real domain when using in a Local, Staging or Production
  • Copy and paste the following query into the field with the text (Input a SPARQL query):

SELECT (COUNT(*) AS ?triples) WHERE {?s ?p ?o}
  • Click the Execute button.

  • The output at the bottom will be a numerical value that will look something like:

| triples |
| ------- |
| 8280864 |
  • This value should increase as more objects are ingested and indexed by Fedora. The difference is that instead of these values being in the previously used Mulgara triplestore, they are now handled by Blazegraph.

Using Blazegraph & the TICK Stack

  • If you're pushing log events to TICK, add this snippet of code below (logging instructions) to the bottom of every ISLE service within your docker-compose.yml file.
      driver: syslog
        tag: "{{.Name}}"


Example is for a Staging instance

    image: islandoracollabgroup/isle-blazegraph:1.5.0
    container_name: isle-blazegraph-${CONTAINER_SHORT_ID}
      - JAVA_MAX_MEM=4096M
      - JAVA_MIN_MEM=1024M
      - staging.env
      - isle-internal
      - "8084:8080"
      - isle-blazegraph-data:/var/bigdata
      driver: syslog
        tag: "{{.Name}}"

Uninstallation Instructions

  • Comment out the isle-blazegraph service again within your docker-compose.*.yml file
  • Change the the blazegraph back to mulgara within your local.env or demo.env file
  • Start up the ISLE containers again.
  • Re-index Fedora following the Fedora re-indexing steps provided in the Check & Rebuild Fedora when using Blazegraph section.

Need Help?

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Additional Resources