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Since its inception, MapReduce has frequently been associated with Hadoop and large-scale datasets. Its deployment at Amazon in the cloud, and its applications at Yahoo! and Face book for large-scale distributed document indexing and database building, among other tasks, have thrust MapReduce to the forefront of the data processing application domain. The applicability of the paradigm however extends far beyond its use with data intensive applications and disk based systems, and can also be brought to bear in processing small but CPU intensive distributed applications. In this work, we focus both on the performance of processing large-scale hierarchical data in distributed scientific applications, as well as the processing of smaller but demanding input sizes primarily used in diskless, and memory resident I/O systems. In this paper, we present LEMO-MR (Low overhead, Elastic, configurable for in-Memory applications, and on-Demand fault tolerance), an optimized implementation of MapReduce, for both on-disk and in-memory applications, describe its architecture and identify not only the necessary components of this model, but also trade offs and factors to be considered. We show the efficacy of our implementation in terms of potential speedup that can be achieved for representative data sets used by cloud applications. Finally, we quantify the performance gains exhibited by our MapReduce implementation over Apache Hadoop in a compute intensive environment.