Apache Cassandra is a distributed database that is designed to manage petabytes of structured data across multiple commodity servers, offering no single point of failure with high availability. It is a top level open source distributed DBMS (Database Management System), which was initially developed at Facebook to handle the in-box search feature. It is built on Google's BigTable and Amazon's Dynamo.
There are some exclusive capabilities of the Cassandra including linear scale performance, simpler distribution of data across centers, linear scale performance, simplicity in operations, cloud availability zones and non-stop availability. None of these capabilities can be offered by any other NoSQL database.
Apache Cassandra Architecture
Instead of using the legacy architecture of master – slave design, the Apache Cassandra uses an elegant 'ring' design, which is master-less and easy to set-up and maintain. Cassandra's user friendly architecture empowers it to offer scalability, performance and continuous up-time.
Having a ring design, all identical nodes in the Cassandra architecture perform equal communication with each other. The concept of a master node is not there. The built-for-scale architecture of Cassandra enables it to handle thousands of operations per second involving a large amount of data on multiple commodity servers. Not having a ‘master-slave’ system offer one more advantage to Cassandra of having no single point of failure, which empowers it to offer a continuous up-time by adding new nodes in the cluster as and when needed.
In the current digital era, where petabytes of data is being generated all over the world, the Apache Cassandra has emerged as a perfect solution. In the mega production environments, involving this architecture, they have petabytes of data in the cluster of as many as 75,000 nodes. Some of the large companies which have deployed it and have benefited from it include top notch firms like Apple, eBay, Comcast, Spotify, Instagram, Rackspace and Netflix.
Apache Cassandra – Benefits for Developers
1) Continuous Availability – Having a 'ring' design makes the Cassandra a master-less architecture with no single point of failure. This gives it a certain edge over the other 'master – slave' systems.
2) High Scalability - The Apache Cassandra allows addition of more hardware as per the requirements, which makes it highly scalable for adding more and more customers and data easily. Thus, the data model built on Cassandra can be evolved in future as needed by the business application.
3) Flexibility in Data Storage – Almost all available data formats can be accommodated by Cassandra, be it structured or unstructured. Any alterations in the data structures can be accommodated dynamically to suit your needs. The data model of Apache Cassandra allows you to add new attributes or entities without any limits.
4) Fast Performance with Linear Scalability – The Apache Cassandra bears a linearly scalable system which allows it to increase the number of the nodes in cluster as per need of business application. For example, the throughput of the system can be doubled by using 2 nodes, quadrupled by adding 4 nodes and so on. This linear scalability feature makes it possible to deliver millisecond response times.
5) Native Data Distribution – With Apache Cassandra you can keep your data wherever you want across the globe, thanks to the availability of cloud replication across multiple data centers. This enables you to read or write data anywhere in the world.
6) Optimal Language Driver Support – The Apache Cassandra supports a range of language drivers, ensuring an optimum performance of your application on Cassandra. Languages like Python, C++, Java, C#/.Net, Ruby are to name a few.
7) Highly Active Developer Community – While working on any application involving Apache Cassandra, a developer always has a good opportunity to get support from the highly active and rich developer community of Apache Cassandra. The Cassandra Developers Community is currently considered one of the most active ones for open source projects.
Apache Cassandra – Benefits for Operators
1) Full-time Access – The “Ring” design architecture of the Apache Cassandra ensures a full time availability of the data for the end user of your application. Even during the failure of the complete data center, data can be accessed.
2) Cross Data Center Replication Support – This architecture offers native multi data center replication in different geographies. The data can be read or written anywhere with multi cloud availability zone support.
3) Easy Detection of Faults and Quick Recovery – The ring design architecture of Cassandra enables the operators to easily identify and replace or restore any failed nodes.
4) Strong Data Consistency – This architecture offers effective support for strong data consistency across the distributed clusters.
5) Monitoring & Management Flexibility – The Apache Cassandra's tool – OpsCenter – is an effective monitoring and management tool which offers stats in graphical form. It can be easily downloaded and used in effective management of complex workloads.
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