Cassandra is one of the most interesting NoSQL platforms at the moment. And by most interesting what I really mean is the most clearly justifiable. Some NoSQL platforms offer new data models, improved query interfaces and/or good single node performance through relaxed consistency models. As a database guy however, the justification for throwing out the RDBMS baby and bathwater is still difficult at this point as NoSQL platforms tend to be highly focused in one aspect of data management, and very immature in all other areas. Cassandra is somewhat different as it is more mature in a number of key areas (albeit still immature in others). Areas that can make Cassandra more justifiable for the right project, when compared with a more traditional RDBMS based solution. This is because Cassandra’s primary capabilities can’t easily be replicated on those traditional mainstream platforms.
Cassandra’s primary focus is on scalability. More specifically that is scalability combined with reasonable functionality and performance & availability when at scale. While some other platforms are trying to bolt on scalability/availability to their functionality rich data engines, Cassandra already has proven real life examples running 150 node clusters. Notable uses of Cassandra include Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit & Rackspace. And the feedback from these sites is very good; commonly Cassandra has been expressed as the hands down winner for transaction processing performance at scale.
One of the key contributors to Cassandra has been Jonathan Ellis and until recently he has been working on Cassandra while employed by RackSpace. But, I was pleased to hear that Jonathan, and business partner Matt Pfeil, have taken the step of setting up their own Cassandra focused company, Riptano.
Riptano are providing the commercialized support services around the open source Cassandra that are necessary for the platform to survive and grow. While such services may be less important for adoption from the techie rich Web 2.0 crowd, for any platform to become mainstream there needs to be an escalation path for companies uninterested or unable to tinker with the code themselves. Riptano provides those services which can allow Cassandra use to start to grow further.
Just as importantly, this move gives representation to Cassandra and provides an entity whose best interests will be served through advocacy of the platform. While Jonathan and others had been doing a fine job of this to date personally, another corporation investing commercial dollars into advocacy will be important to ensure Cassandra’s message isn’t drowned out by more highly funded alternatives.
Riptano has received some early funding from RackSpace and I believe already has a few customers signed for their support services. Best luck Jonathan & Matt.