Application migration from Neo4j to Neptune - Amazon Neptune
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Application migration from Neo4j to Neptune

After you have migrated your data from Neo4j to Neptune, the next step is to migrate the application itself. As with data, there are multiple approaches to migrating your application based on the tools your use, requirements, architectural differences, and so on. Things that you usually need to consider in this process are outlined below.

Migrating connections when moving from Neo4j to Neptune

If you don't currently use the Bolt drivers, or would like to use an alternative, you can connect to the HTTPS endpoint which provides full access to the data returned.

If you do have an application that uses the Bolt protocol, you can migrate these connections to Neptune and let your applications connect using the same drivers as you did in Neo4j. To connect to Neptune, you may need to make one or more of the following changes to your application:

  • The URL and port will need to be updated to use the cluster endpoints and cluster port (the default is 8182).

  • Neptune requires all connections to use SSL, so you need to specify for each connection that it is encrypted.

  • Neptune manages authentication through the assignment of IAM policies and roles. IAM policies and roles provide an extremely flexible level of user management within the application, so it is important to read and understand the information in the IAM overview before configuring your cluster.

  • Bolt connections behave differently in Neptune than in Neo4j in several ways, as explained in Bolt connection behavior in Neptune.

  • You can find more information and suggestions in Neptune Best Practices Using openCypher and Bolt.

There are code samples for commonly used language such as Java, Python, .NET, and NodeJS, and for connection scenarios such as using IAM authentication, in Using the Bolt protocol to make openCypher queries to Neptune.

Routing queries to cluster instances when moving from Neo4j to Neptune

Neo4j client applications use a routing driver and specify an access mode to route read and write requests to an appropriate server in a causal cluster.

When migrating a client application to Neptune, use Neptune endpoints to route queries efficiently to an appropriate instance in your cluster:

  • All connections to Neptune should use bolt:// rather than bolt+routing:// or neo4j:// in the URL.

  • The cluster endpoint connects to the current primary instance in your cluster. Use the cluster endpoint to route write requests to the primary.

  • The reader endpoint distributes connections across read-replica instances in your cluster. If you have a single-instance cluster with no read-replica instances, the reader endpoint connects to the primary instance, which supports write operations. If the cluster does contain one or more read-replica instances, sending a write request to the reader endpoint generates an exception.

  • Each instance in your cluster can also have its own instance endpoint. Use an instance endpoint if your client application needs to send a request to a specific instance in the cluster.

For more information, see Neptune endpoint considerations.

Data consistency in Neptune

When using Neo4j causal clusters, read replicas are eventually consistent with core servers, but client applications can ensure causal consistency by using causal chaining. Causal chaining entails passing bookmarks between transactions, which allows a client application to write to a core server and then read its own write from a read-replica.

In Neptune, read-replica instances are eventually consistent with the writer, with replica lag that is usually less than 100 milliseconds. However, until a change has been replicated, updates to existing edges and vertices and additions of new edges and vertices are not visible on a replica instance. Therefore, if your application needs immediate consistency on Neptune by reading each write, use the cluster endpoint for the read-after-write operation. This is the only time to use the cluster endpoint for read operations. In all other circumstances, use the reader endpoint for reads.

Migrating queries from Neo4j to Neptune

Although Neptune's support for openCypher dramatically reduces the amount of work required to migrate queries from Neo4j, there are still some differences to assess when migrating:

  • As discussed in Data-model optimizations above, there may be modifications to your data model that you need to make so as to create an optimized graph data model for Neptune, which in turn will require changes to your queries and testing.

  • Neo4j offers a variety of Cypher-specific language extensions that are not included in the openCypher specification implemented by Neptune. Depending on the use case and feature used, there may be workarounds within the openCypher language, or using the Gremlin language, or through other mechanisms as described in Rewriting Cypher queries to run in openCypher on Neptune.

  • Applications often use other middleware components to interact with the database instead of the Bolt drivers themselves. Please check Neptune compatibility with Neo4j to see if tools or middleware that you're using are supported.

  • In the case of a failover, the Bolt driver might continue to connect to the previous writer or reader instance because the cluster endpoint provided to the connection has resolved to an IP address. Proper error handling in your application should handle this, as described in Create a new connection after failover.

  • When transactions are canceled because of unresolvable conflicts or lock-wait timeouts, Neptune responds with a ConcurrentModificationException. For more information, see Engine Error Codes. As a best practice, clients should always catch and handle these exceptions.

    A ConcurrentModificationException occurs occasionally when multiple threads or multiple applications are writing to the system simultaneously. Because of transaction isolation levels, these conflicts may sometimes be unavoidable.

  • Neptune supports running both Gremlin and openCypher queries on the same data. This means that in some scenarios you may need to consider using Gremlin, with its more powerful querying capabilities, to perform some of the functionality of your queries.

As discussed in Provisioning infrastructure above, each application should go through a right-sizing exercise to ensure that the number of instances, the instance sizes, and the cluster topology are all optimized for the specific workload of the application.

The considerations discussed here for migrating your application are the most common ones, but this is not an exhaustive list. Each application is unique. Please reach out to Amazon support or engage your account team if you have further questions.

Migrating features and tools that are specific to Neo4j

Neo4j has a variety of custom features and add-ons with funtionality that your application may rely on. When evaluating the need to migrate this functionality, it often helps to investigate whether there is a better approach within Amazon to achieve the same goal. Considering the architectural differences between Neo4j and Neptune, you can often find effective alternatives that take advantage of other Amazon services or integrations.

See Neptune compatibility with Neo4j for a list of Neo4j-specific features and suggested workarounds.