Azul Launches Apache Cassandra Consulting Service

Azul Systems taps into the emerging market around Apache Cassandra by providing consulting services for the database.

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Azul Systems, a provider of Java runtime solutions, recently announced the availability of Cassandra HealthCheck, a new business consulting service designed to help enterprises optimize their Apache Cassandra deployments.

The new service helps users eliminate Java-related barriers and improve the runtime consistency, reliability and up-time of their Cassandra deployments. For instance, Azul recently achieved an improvement of more than 56x in worst-case latency, a 25 percent improvement in throughput and a reduction in client disconnects due to node timeouts for a large-scale Cassandra deployment with a customer in the financial services industry.

"Many users do not understand the negative impact a Java runtime can have on Cassandra response time, reliability and throughput," said Scott Sellers, CEO and president of Azul Systems, in a statement. "With Azul's Cassandra HealthCheck service offering, our specialists can quickly show enterprises how to maximize the value of their Cassandra investment and eliminate many of the performance and reliability challenges facing Cassandra deployments today. Better Cassandra deployments ultimately mean better business performance."

Apache Cassandra is a highly performant, scalable open-source distributed database management system written in Java. Cassandra is designed to handle large amounts of data across many commodity servers, providing high availability with no single point of failure. The system supports clusters spanning multiple data centers.

However, many aspects of Cassandra performance, consistency and availability depend on the capabilities of the underlying Java runtime platform, Azul officials said. Legacy Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) may suffice for some use cases, but enterprises that require highly consistent and reliable low-latency Cassandra deployments are often limited by the JVM itself, specifically the detrimental impact of garbage collection. The Java garbage collection process freezes the application while memory is defragmented and compacted, resulting in random Cassandra pauses that lead to response time inconsistency, increased time to data consistency and can even trigger serious conditions like cascading node failures, where multiple stalled Cassandra nodes trigger cluster-level outages and crashes, Azul said.

Cassandra HealthCheck (Cassandra HC) marks the first time Azul has gone into the consulting business in a major way. "We have always had some very small services offerings; however, up to now they have been a tiny part of our plans," said Howard Green, vice president of marketing at Azul. "We view our Cassandra opportunities as a very large, dynamic and promising segment, and one where our success has undergone rapid growth."

Azul created this new offering after witnessing a steep acceleration in the pipeline of the company's Zing deployments where Cassandra was the common factor. Zing is a JVM that eliminates garbage collection pauses and improves the operation of all types of Java applications.

"We've been able to help many Cassandra sites greatly reduce their peak latencies, and in some cases also reduce average transaction latency as well," Green said.

Azul's Cassandra HC consists of a combination of on-site and remotely delivered runtime analytic services. Leveraging both open-source and proprietary tools, Azul consultants have deep Java experience helping IT organizations and DevOps teams optimize Java runtimes and system and application configurations to significantly improve Cassandra deployments, including components leveraging Cassandra data stores, such as Apache Lucene, Solr and Spark.

"We are seeing strong interest in the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database, particularly for applications that require a combination of low-latency performance and a highly available, distributed architecture," said Matt Aslett, research director for data platforms and analytics at 451 Research. "Garbage collection issues can hit any Java deployment, but are particularly significant where low-latency performance is a requirement. With Azul's new Cassandra HealthCheck offering, Cassandra users can leverage the company's JVM and performance tuning expertise, allowing for more consistent and reliable deployments while focusing their attention on the application itself, rather than spending time trying to tune away JVM issues."