With its database platform based on Cassandra, DataStax has a vested interest in the success and popularity of the hot NoSQL platform. Cassandra was built by Facebook and powers some of the largest cloud applications in the world, including Netfix and Spotify—thus the growing developer interest in the platform.
“Apache Cassandra has become extremely popular,” Christian Hasker, director of DataStax Academy at DataStax, told eWEEK. “With that popularity comes the need to acquire skills because DataStax and Apache Cassandra are part of the newer NoSQL database movement. In the traditional relational world SQL is an incredibly common language and skill. Millions of people know how to write SQL. So while Cassandra and NoSQL databases are growing in popularity, the skills needed to develop against them have not really kept apace. So there has been a widening gap between companies wanting to adopt Apache Cassandra and DataStax and the ability of their developers to develop against it.”
DataStax Academy provides self-paced courses, videos and other training methods and materials to train developers, engineers, administrators, architects and others about Cassandra. DataStax interviewed more than 250 DataStax Academy members to confirm that there definitely is a massive skills gap in the database industry and a need for more people with Apache Cassandra skills.
Hasker said, according to last year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Apache Cassandra was the top paying technology skill for developers, enabling developers with Cassandra skills to earn 52 percent more than the average developer.
“This is really a double-edged sword,” Hasker said. “It’s great because it makes Apache Cassandra more popular for developers because they want to get onboard with a very hot technology so they can get a better job. But, on the other hand, CIOs at companies, when they look at their existing development teams and they don’t have the skills, they’re going to have to pay a 52 percent premium to bring in new developers who know Apache Cassandra and DataStax. They are happy that we have a solution to retrain their existing development team in-house for free.”
About 18 months ago, DataStax decided to go all in on a strategy to close the NoSQL skills gap. “The first thing we decided to do was to offer a completely free way to access training,” he said. “Now, as the economy starts to slow a little bit and companies tend to cut back on their training budget, individuals are using down periods to retool on their skill sets.”
Frank Staszak, a software engineer at American Family Insurance, said access to free online courses helps engineers lower the barriers to adoption for teams to quickly learn how to use the latest open source technologies.
“Coming from a background in the relational database world, DataStax Academy made it easy to grasp new concepts and has been an invaluable resource in keeping me up to speed on Cassandra to build cloud applications,” Staszak said in a statement.
DataStax Survey Shows NoSQL Skills Gap, Demand for Apache Cassandra
Indeed, according to the DataStax survey, Apache Cassandra is becoming even more important for engineers to understand and be able to use. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of survey respondents said Apache Cassandra is critical to their job function. Of this group, nearly 60 percent said Apache Cassandra was not critical to their job six months ago. Yet, only eight percent of respondents said they think the current pool of skilled NoSQL workers is enough for the demand in the database industry.
The survey also showed that there is a high demand for more Apache Cassandra and NoSQL training courses, as 37 percent of the survey respondents said they are interested in increasing their knowledge of Apache Cassandra, specifically for personal growth reasons. And 85 percent of the survey respondents said free courses are one of the most important factors to encourage participation in a new training course, followed by an online format and the ability to proceed through a course at his or her own pace.
The DataStax survey also showed some interesting movement in terms of female developers Hasker said. He noted that while there has been a focus on the paucity of female developers, when it comes to Apache Cassandra and DataStax the breakdown is about 90 percent male and 10 percent female, “which while absolutely is nothing to be proud of, is about double the industry average, which is about 5 percent for female developers and 95 percent male,” Hasker said.
However, in some of the emerging regions they have a younger demographic and a more even ratio of male to female developers, he added.
“I think the age demographic is key in this,” Hasker said. “When we look at the population of female developers they tend to be in the 25 to 35 year-old range. And that’s a little younger than the typical male developer in the survey. So I think recently, over the past two to three years, if you’re a female developer and you’re young in the field, you do not want to pick up an old technology like an Oracle database. You want to be part of the new wave. And as you go to a younger demographic we become even more popular there. I think that’s what’s at play here, which bodes great for the future.”
Meanwhile, a quarter of the DataStax survey respondents said they held existing certifications in Hadoop, MongoDB, SQL Server and Oracle, but felt it was necessary to receive additional training and certification in Apache Cassandra. DataStax, in conjunction with O’Reilly Media, offers a certification program for Cassandra to turn out certified Cassandra developers, administrators and architects. They certified just under 1,000 developers last year, Hasker said.
According to the Gartner report, Bridging the Strategy Gap for Big Data Adoption, “Skills shortages remain a challenge and searches for ‘qualified data scientists’ have become project impediments. Many organizations said that service providers didn’t have the industry depth and related business process skills. In many cases, the skills were outside an organization’s region, and the organization found it difficult to transfer them to its operations. Some of these organizations decided to ‘go it alone’ and then discovered that they faced multiple challenges in addition to a steep learning curve.”