The Storage Planner manages access to all data within the Holmes Processing system. It orchestrates the interaction across multiple Databases, serves the files for analysis, etc.
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Holmes-Storage: A Storage Planner for Holmes Processing Build Status


Holmes-Storage is responsible for managing the interaction of Holmes Processing with the database backends. At its core, Holmes-Storage organizes the information contained in Holmes Processing and provides a RESTful and AMQP interface for accessing the data. Additionally, Holmes-Storage provides an abstraction layer between the specific database types. This allows a Holmes Processing system to change database types and combine different databases together for optimization.

When running, Holmes-Storage will:

  • Automatically fetch the analysis results from Holmes-Totem and Holmes-Totem-Dynamic over AMQP for storage
  • Support the submission of objects via a RESTful API
  • Support the retrieval of results, raw objects, object meta-data, and object submission information via a RESTful API

We have designed Holmes-Storage to operate as a reference implementation. In doing so, we have optimized the system to seamlessly plug into other parts of Holmes Processing and optimized the storage of information for generic machine learning algorithms and queries through a web frontend. Furthermore, we have separated the storage of binary blobs and textural data in order to better handle how data is stored and compressed. As such, Holmes-Storage will store file based objects (i.e. ELF, PE32, PDF, etc) in a S3 compatible backend and the meta information of the objects and results from analysis in Cassandra. With respect to non-file type objects, these are purely stored in Cassandra. In our internal production systems, this scheme has supported 10s of million of objects along with the results from associated Totem and Totem-Dynamic Services with minimal effort. However, as with any enterprise system, customization will be required to improve the performance for custom use cases. Anyway, we hope this serves you well or at least helps guide you in developing custom Holmes-Storage Planners.


With changes from 24-06-2017 on all results will be stored gzip compressed. This change breaks backwards compatibility, please make sure you updated your database accordingly!


Supported Databases

Holmes-Storage supports multiple databases and splits them into two categories: Object Stores and Document Stores. Object Stores are responsible for storing the file-based malicious objects collected by the analyst: binary files such as PE32 and ELF, PDFs, HTML code, Zips files etc. Document Stores contain the output of Holmes-Totem and Holmes-Totem-Dynamic Services. This was done to enable users to more easily select their preferred solutions while also allowing the mixing of databases for optimization purposes. In production environments, we strongly recommend using an S3 compatible Object Store, such as RIAK-CS, and a clustered deployment of Cassandra for the Document Stores.

I. Object Stores

We support two primary object storage databases.

  • S3 compatible
  • (Soon) MongoDB Gridfs

There are several tools you can use for implementing Object Stores. Depending on the intended scale of your work with Holmes-Storage, we would recommend:

Framework Workstation Mid-scale Large-scale
AWS [] [] [x]
RIAK-CS [] [] [x]
LeoFS [] [] [x]
Pithos [] [x] []
Minio [] [x] []
Fake-S3 [x] [] []

If you want to run Holmes-Storage on your local machine for testing or development purposes, we recommend you use lightweight servers compatible with the Amazon S3 API. This will make the installation and usage of Holmes-Storage faster and more efficient. There are several great options to fulfill this role: Fake-S3, Minio, Pithos etc. The above mentioned frameworks are only suggestions, any S3 compatible storage will do. Check out their documentation to find out which option is more suitable for the work you intend to do.


It is recommended to use RIAK-CS only for large scale or industry deployments. Follow this tutorial for installation of RiakCS.


After successful installation, the user’s access key and secret key are returned in the key_id and key_secret fields respectively. Use these keys to update key and secret your config file ( storage.conf.example )

Holmes-Storage uses Amazon S3 signature version 4 for authentication. To enable authV4 on riak-cs, add {auth_v4_enabled, true} to advanced.config file ( should be in /riak-cs/etc/)


We recommend Fake-S3 as a simple starting point for exploring the system functionality. Most of the current developers of Holmes-Storage are using Fake-S3 for quick testing purposes. Minio is also encouraged if you want to engage more with development and do more testing.


Check out the documentation of Fake-S3 on how to install and run it. Afterwards, go to /config/storage.conf of Holmes-Storage and set the IP and Port your ObjectStorage server is running on. You can decide whether you want your Holmes client to send HTTP or HTTPS requests to the server through the Secure parameter.

II. Document Stores

We support two primary object storage databases.

  • Cassandra
  • MongoDB

We recommend a Cassandra cluster for large deployments.


Holmes-Storage supports single node or cluster installation of Cassandra version 3.10 and higher. The version requirement is because of the significant improvement in system performance when leveraging the newly introduced SASIIndex for secondary indexing and Materialized Views. We highly recommend deploying Cassandra as a cluster with a minimum of three Cassandra nodes in production environments.


New Cassandra clusters will need to be configured before Cassandra is started for the first time. We have highlighted a few of the configuration options that are critical or will improve performance. For additional options, please see the Cassandra installation guide.

To edit these values, please open the Cassandra configuration file in your favorite editor. The Cassandra configuration file is typically located in /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml.

The Cassandra "cluster_name" must be set and the same on all nodes. The name you select does not much matter but again it should be identical on all nodes. cluster_name: 'Holmes Processing'

Cassandra 3.x has an improved token allocation algorithm. As such, 256 is not necessary and should be decreased to 64 or 128 tokens. num_tokens: 128

You should populate the "seeds" value with the IP addresses for at least two additional Cassandra nodes. seeds: <ip node1>,<ip node2>

The "listen_address" should be set to the external IP address for the current Cassandra node. listen_address: <external ip address>


Copy the default configuration file located in config/storage.conf.example and change it according to your needs.

$ cp storage.conf.example storage.conf

Update the storage.conf file in config folder and adjust the ports and IPs to point at your cluster nodes. To build the Holmes-Storage, just run

$ go build

Setup the database by calling

$ ./Holmes-Storage --config <path_to_config> --setup

This will create the configured keyspace if it does not exist yet. For cassandra, the default keyspace will use the following replication options:

 {'class': 'NetworkTopologyStrategy', 'dc': '2'}

If you want to change this, you can do so after the setup by connecting with cqlsh and changing it manually. For more information about that we refer to the official documentation of cassandra Cassandra Replication Altering Keyspace You can also create the keyspace with different replication options before executing the setup and the setup won't overwrite that. The setup will also create the necessary tables and indices.

Setup the object storer by calling:

$ ./Holmes-Storage --config <path_to_config> --objSetup

Execute storage by calling:

$ ./Holmes-Storage --config <path_to_config>

Best Practices

On a new cluster, Holmes-Storage will setup the database in an optimal way for the average user. However, we recommend Cassandra users to please read the Cassandra's Operations website for more information Cassandra best practices. We want to expand on three particular practices that in our experience have been proven to be very meaningful in keeping the database healthy.


Based on the CAP theorem, Cassandra can be classified as an AP database. The cost for strong consistency is higher latency, so the database has its own mechanisms to ensure eventual consistency in the system. However, human intervention is often necessary. It is critical that the Cassandra cluster be regularly repaired using the nodetool repair and nodetool compact command. The following documentations 1, 2 give an overview of the nodetool functionality. We suggest exploring the Cassandra-Reaper tool as a potential way to automate the repair process.

Nodetool Repair

The purpose of this command is to enforce consistency in the tables across the cluster. We recommend that this is executed on every node, one at a time, at least once a week.

Nodetool Compact

This is another important maintenance command. Cassandra has its own methodology for storing and deleting data, which requires compaction to take place in regular intervals in order to save space and maintain efficiency. For more details follow the links above to learn more about Cassandra.


Holmes-Storage uses SASIIndex for indexing the Cassandra database. This indexing allows for querying of large datasets with minimal overhead. When leveraging Cassandra, most of the Holmes Processing tools will automatically use SASI indexes for speed improvements. Power users wishing to learn more about how to utilize these indexes should please visit the excellent blog post by Doan DyuHai.

However while SASI is powerful, it is not meant to be a replacement for advanced search and aggregation engines like Solr, Elasticsearch, or leveraging Spark. Additionally, Holmes Storage by default does not implement SASI on the table for storing the results of TOTEM Services (results.results). This is because indexing this field can increase storage costs by approximately 40% on standard deployments. If you still wish to leverage SASI on results.results, the following Cassandra command will provide a sane level of indexing.

SASI indexing of TOTEM Service results. WARNING: this will greatly increase storage requirement:

CREATE CUSTOM INDEX results_results_idx ON holmes_testing.results (results) 
USING 'org.apache.cassandra.index.sasi.SASIIndex' 
	'analyzed' : 'true', 
	'analyzer_class' : 'org.apache.cassandra.index.sasi.analyzer.StandardAnalyzer', 
	'tokenization_enable_stemming' : 'false', 
	'tokenization_locale' : 'en', 
	'tokenization_normalize_lowercase' : 'true', 
	'tokenization_skip_stop_words' : 'true',
	'max_compaction_flush_memory_in_mb': '512'