Act I: Using Aster Express

By Michael Riordan, Teradata Aster

Once you have an Aster cluster running (see tutorial Getting Started with Aster Express), it's time to start doing some work.  We'll start with the Aster database basics in this first part of a 3 part overview.

ACT on Aster

The foundation of the Aster platform is a parallel database, so a good starting point is to show some simple database examples.  To demonstrate this, we'll use Aster's command line query tool, ACT, to connect to the cluster through the Queen node, and then submit SQL queries.  The Queen node is the entry point for connecting to the Aster cluster.

We have a few options for where we can run this tool.  The easiest is to work directly on the Queen node and run ACT there in a terminal shell.  ACT is included with the Aster software already installed on the cluster nodes and so no additional installation is required.  The Aster tools, including ACT, can also be installed on a remote client workstation and run from there with connection back to the cluster using the Queen's address,  This is a very common configuration for Aster customers connecting to their production cluster.  These client tools will be the topic of a future Aster tutorial, along with a download package of the tools for Windows client workstations.

The other common option used is to connect to the Queen node ( from a remote terminal shell using SSH (If you are using a Windows PC, do a web search for PuTTY, a great and free SSH utility).   This is usually my preferred method of working on the Queen, its seems a bit more light-weight than using the Linux desktop.  Generally, I start up my Queen and Worker image and then leave them running in the background without ever logging onto them directly.  This more closely resembles a production environment where all connections are remote; SSH sessions for direct access and management using a web browser and the Aster Management Console (AMC).

When using the remote options, we'll need to specify the database connection parameters because Aster is no longer running locally and ACT defaults to 'localhost'.
In this example, I'm passing the host, dbname, user and password parameters to ACT:
         act --host --dbname beehive --username beehive --password beehive
(Tip: starting ACT with the "--help" option will list all the startup parameter options.)  

Again, the remote options are closer to what you would do in an actual Aster cluster in a datacenter, but for simplicity, using the Aster Express Queen node directly is a reasonable choice for Aster Express and is how we'll connect in our examples.

Working on the Queen

To work directly on the Queen node itself.  Simply log into the Queen's desktop using the user/password "aster/aster". 

Double-click on the 'GNOME terminal' icon to open a shell window, and then stretch it a bit to give us some room to type and read the results.

We start by running the ACT program.  At the prompt, type "act" and the ENTER key. 
You'll be prompted for a password, use "beehive".  (Queens, Workers, beehive....starting to see a theme here).


As simple as that, we're connected to the Aster database and can start submitting commands and SQL queries.  In this example, most of the connection details were hidden. 

By default, ACT will try to connect to the localhost address, with the user "beehive".  All we needed to add was the password, which is also "beehive".

For a quick list of the ACT command options, type "\h" at the prompt, as shown here:


Next I'll demo some very basic SQL with Aster.

Hello Aster

OK, we're ready, let's issued our very first Aster query!


That was easy, but we can do better. Here’s a better SQL example that includes creating our first Aster table.
Here are the SQL statements we'll use:


With these, we create our first Aster table, insert a row and run a query.  Later on in our tutorials we'll dig more into the 'DISTRIBUTE BY REPLICATION' syntax. (It's how Aster knows how to distribute the data among the cluster's Worker nodes).


So there it is - Hello Aster!  We've reached the end of ACT I.  Hopefully you've seen how easy it is to use Aster just as you would any other database.  In the next tutorial, Using Aster Express: ACT 2, Loading Data, I'll show you how to load data and run some more complex SQL queries and start leveraging Aster's SQL-MapReduce capabilities.