Impressions from the Cassandra Summit

I have been attending (and speaking) at the annual Apache® Cassandra™ Summit for 4 years, but this was my first time as a sponsor on the Expo floor. My time in the Cassandra ecosystem has proven to be a powerful lesson in how fast open source communities can grow and evolve. In 2013, there were less than 1,000 attendees. By 2015, over 3,500 were at last year’s Summit. This year, the event was at the massive San Jose Convention Center, rarefied air for a database that is younger than my home computer (!), and shows the momentum in this community. 

And as the community has evolved, so too has the deployments that drive it. Many teams using Cassandra now have robust, mature production systems—many multi-thousand node clusters are running some of the most demanding workloads, delivering the highest levels of availability in the industry.

And at the front end, for those just getting started with Cassandra, all the typical stumbling blocks are well defined and there are books, blogs, tutorials and certification programs available to help people along. It also means that the developers of these projects are looking to further modernize and improve on their existing implementations. For some users, that means bringing their Cassandra data off older disks (that were state of the art when they began their project) and into faster, now considerably cheaper RAM as a storage speed layer. Or their application has been so successful that even more users are requesting access to historical data stored in their Cassandra cluster, but there isn’t really any scalable and performant way to provide native OLAP functionality on NoSQL systems.  

And this is where Apache® Ignite™ can help with an in-memory compute grid that also can serve as distributed cache. There was an enormous amount of interest in our talk on Apache Ignite, with 200+ people attending Igor Rudyak and my presentation (which we presented again as the webinar “Super Power Apache Cassandra for Extreme OLTP Workloads with GridGain”), as well as a near constant stream of attendees asking great questions at the GridGain booth.  Household names and technology leaders with well-known Cassandra implementations were excited to hear about how Apache Ignite can help speed up reads and provide SQL queries (yes, with joins!) on their clusters.  It was tons of fun to catch up with old friends and new faces to hear what projects they are working on and how GridGain might help.  These are some of the smartest and most innovative developers that I have ever worked with and I can’t wait to see them again next year!