Key Takeaways From DataStax's Cassandra Big Data Conference

Fast-developing DataStax has about 300 customers--growing from a mere 11 in 2011--and is aiming in the market at industry veterans Oracle, SAP and Microsoft.

SAN FRANCISCO--Should seasoned proprietary database providers Oracle, SAP and Microsoft be wary of younger upstarts coming to market with highly regarded open-source products?
To answer that question, all one needs to do is look at IT history. Linux, in all its flavors, has made huge inroads into the enterprise IT stack during the last two decades. Apache is now by far the most-used Web server engine in the world. The Zettabyte file system has earned many thousands of users. We could go on.
Those are only a few of the open-source apps that have displaced a long list of proprietary software.
So are databases next up for disruption? If you ask any of the 1,500 or so attendees at DataStax's Cassandra 2013 Summit, held June 11-12 here at the Fort Mason Center, the answer would be along the lines of: "Um, yes, and the changeover is already well under way."

Third Annual Conference
DataStax, a 3-year-old big data startup that is hosting its third annual event--which has doubled in attendance each year--made a few news announcements at the conference, including the introduction of its V2.0 product, which will be available later this year. eWEEK will examine its new features in a few days.
San Mateo, Calif.-based DataStax has about 300 customers--growing from a mere 11 customers in 2011--that include startups and 20 of the Fortune 100, CEO Billy Bosworth, formerly of Quest Software, said. The company positions its product as a "scalable, flexible and continuously available" big data platform built on the open-source Apache Cassandra NoSQL database.
DataStax also makes software that integrates Cassandra, Apache Hadoop for batch analytics and Apache Solr for search across data centers and in cloud deployments. The company describes itself as the "first viable alternative to Oracle since Oracle, which can power real-time business applications."
The company revealed that customers such as Netflix, eBay, Adobe, Openwave Messaging and SAS-based video processor Ooyala have migrated from conventional relational database management systems (RDBMS)--including Oracle's--to its own platform. All of these companies cited better scalability, disaster avoidance and cost savings as the key reasons for installing Cassandra in place of their previous databases, DataStax said.

New DB Providers Getting 'Aggressive'
"More and more companies are coming out with the same message, debunking relational databases," Gartner research director Svetlana Sicular told eWEEK. "They're becoming more aggressive, and it's not only Cassandra. To me this means they're more confident about their acceptance in the market."
Sicular's Gartner colleague, research vice president Merv Adrian, said that he saw two main reasons for this emboldenment.
"One, they reached the point technically that can find their users and satisfy them, and two, they've all raised enough money in the last year-and-a-half that they have enough marketing clout to go for it now," Adrian told eWEEK.
"This event is a good example of this (momentum). Attendance is probably double over last year; there's great interest. New workloads are emerging, and these guys are competing for them. They are targeting--not replacement (of older systems) by and large--the new workloads, much more than they are taking old ones away," Adrian said.
"So they get to be ankle-biters for a long time before they stomped, and they may grow big enough to make it harder to stomp them."

Key Data Points from the Conference
Here are some other industry and Datastax-specific takeaways from Day 1 of the Cassandra Summit.
--Industry metric: Big data is driving IT spending. Gartner estimates that companies are slated to double their big-data-driven IT spend over the next five years, with an estimated $55 billion spent in 2016.
--The new-gen DB market is growing big time. Forrester estimates that the current database market--including new database licenses, technical support, services and consulting--is worth about $30 billion today and is likely to grow to $35 billion by 2017.
--NoSQL market also burgeoning: Forrester estimates that the NoSQL market--including database licenses, support and consulting services--totals about $200 million today and is likely to grow to $1 billion by 2017.
--Key use case: Netflix is the world's leading Internet television network with more than 36 million members watching more than 1 billion hours of TV shows and movies per month. Netflix migrated to Cassandra because Oracle created a single point of failure in a database system that couldn't risk any down time and limited their availability and scalability, DataStax said.

Netflix needed a solution that was as flexible as the cloud, and with Cassandra's globally distributed data model, it could quickly create and manage clusters across multiple data centers.
Netflix now stores about 95 percent of its data in Cassandra, from customer account information to movie ratings, bookmarks, metadata and logs. With more than 200TB of data in its production clusters, Netflix operates one of the largest cloud platforms in the world.
"Cassandra provides Netflix with better business agility and removes the need to plan capacity or worry about running out of space or power," Bosworth said. "Most importantly, the service offers a high degree of availability for Netflix's members and helps the company create a tailored experience for each individual who visits the site.
"Relational databases such as Oracle are built on antiquated architectures that are inadequate for powering today's online line-of-business applications due to their weak scaling capabilities, disaster vulnerability and massive price tags," Bosworth said.
Cassandra Summit 2013 continues through June 12.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...