Cassandra: The Database To Watch

Workers in the tech world know it better than anyone else: industry competitiveness is fierce, and it keeps companies lean. No one can afford to lag behind, or to not take opportunities when they appear. Some of the biggest stumbling blocks for tech companies – whether they’re looking to expand, or just sustain themselves – are their own systems and infrastructure. You may come up with great ideas and bold new directions in which to go. But if your infrastructure isn’t scalable, flexible and reliable, you’re fundamentally restricted in how fast you can grow and how well you can operate.

Restrictions in infrastructure can keep you from what you’re really good at: innovating, building your app, and engaging your customers. Luckily, the steep rise in NoSQL databases has led to a diversification of options, and many large and small organisations have moved from traditional databases to high-performance open source DIY databases, such as Cassandra.

Originally developed at Facebook in 2008, Cassandra has grown from strength to strength. And it’s no surprise – with its security, resilience, high performance and scalability, Cassandra has revolutionized the lives of tech industry workers. If you’re looking to refocus your energy and resources onto what’s going to make your business grow, Cassandra is the database management system to watch.

Resilience

One of the best advantages of Cassandra is its resilience to failure. Its unique architecture is peer-to-peer, as opposed to the more common master-slave format in which all requests are made to the master server. This traditional format is vulnerable to failure because if the master server is affected, then the slave servers can also be affected.

Cassandra’s peer-to-peer arrangement allows data sharing among peers, eliminating single points-of-failure threats. And because Cassandra allows distribution of cluster servers across cloud provider failure zones, servers are grouped within clusters where the likelihood of a failure is correlated. This means that even if a group of servers fail, the entire infrastructure doesn’t. Who doesn’t want a system that works at a higher performance with less risk?

Data storage

You may not think that your business needs to handle enormous amounts of data, but there is no telling how big your business will grow. Cassandra is used by data-heavy apps including Instagram and Spotify, both of which handle incredibly large amounts of data every day. Cassandra’s eventual consistency model means it has the excellent compression tools and high availability necessary for managing huge loads of data. Cassandra’s use of clusters differs from traditional databases, which usually rely on expensive servers and storage systems. This means that Cassandra has a much lower cost per gigabyte and a cheaper transaction speed, allowing you to process and store more data for less.

It’s also flexible with data storage, allowing for the storage of both structured and unstructured data. Cassandra doesn’t need complex configurations to manage stored data (all data is in a cluster where nodes are equal), so data management is simplified. If you are looking to migrate large amounts of data from your existing environment, it’s worth evaluating the time and resource this will take up.

Time to expand

Cassandra is also ideal for businesses that not only handle huge volumes of data, but have an eye on major expansion in the near future. As each node in a peer-to-peer format is equal, it can share or request data at any time. This means nodes can be replaced or added within a cluster with no interruption to the service. Your database infrastructure can be scaled up, down, or be repaired in short time frames with very little risk.

This ability to simply add, remove or edit nodes also means that maintenance is kept relatively simple once the database has been scaled up. This can be a huge advantage once your app is being widely used.

Join the family

As an open source project, Cassandra is totally free, which is ideal for a new business looking to most effectively use valuable resources. Because Cassandra is free, there is a huge community of like-minded users who support each other, share views, queries and suggestions. It can also be integrated with other Apache open-source projects such as Hadoop, Apache Pig and Apache Hive.

About the Author

Dominic is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. Technology topics – specifically databases is what he enjoys researching and writing about. In his spare time you will find him planning his next adventure getaway, exploring nature trails around Australia or contributing to open source projects.

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