While developing real-time applications and big data solutions, most programmers nowadays prefer NoSQL databases to relational database management systems (RDBMS). In addition to being more scalable than relational databases, the NoSQL databases further handle huge volumes of structured and unstructured data efficiently. The programmers also have option to choose from a number of licensed and open source NoSQL database according to precise project needs. Apache Cassandra is a widely used NoSQL or non-relational database.

Facebook originally designed Cassandra to boost its inbox search feature. But enterprises can now take advantage of Apache Cassandra as an open source project without paying any licensing fees. Also, Apache Cassandra has been evolving consistently to handle huge volumes of data more efficiently across multiple commodity servers. The developers can use Apache Cassandra 3.11 to avail several enhancements and bug fixes. At present, Cassandra is very popular and finds use in a number of large enterprises including Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Cisco and eBay.

Understanding Important Aspects of Apache Cassandra

Distributed NoSQL Database Management System

Cassandra is designed as a distributed NoSQL database management system (NDBMS). Like other NoSQL databases, Cassandra also features a simple design, supports horizontal data scaling, and delivers optimal availability. Unlike RDBMS, Cassandra supports a simple query language, does not feature a fixed schema, and does not support transactions. Hence, many developers use Cassandra as a robust alternative to popular NoSQL databases like MongoDB and Apache HBase.

Developed Based on Robust Technologies

The team at Facebook has designed Cassandra as a consistent, scalable, and fault-tolerant non-relational database management system. Cassandra features a distributed design which is developed based on Amazon’s fast and flexible NoSQL service – Dynamo. At the same time, it further includes a data model which is developed based on Google’s NoSQL big data database service – Bigtable. By default, Cassandra features a column-oriented architecture. It further leverages a column-style data model through Dynamo.

No Single Point of Failure

Cassandra is designed with extensive focus on durability. Many large tech companies rely on the NoSQL database to eliminate chances of data loss despite the entire data center going down. Also, Cassandra features an always-on architecture and does not have a single point of failure. When a data center goes down, Cassandra replaces the failed nodes by replicating data automatically from other nodes. It even supports data replication across nodes and data centers.

Accommodates Multiple Data Formats

As a decentralized and distributed non-relational database, Cassandra eliminates network bottlenecks. It further accommodates various data formats – structured, unstructured and semi-structured. The database even has the capability to accommodate changes made to the data structure dynamically. The developers even have option to choose from synchronous and asynchronous data replications according to type and needs of the application.

Accelerates Data Distribution

Cassandra allows enterprises to store huge volumes of data across multiple nodes. But it keeps individual nodes in a cluster identical to eliminate network bottlenecks. The features provided by Cassandra further help developers to distribute huge volumes of structured and unstructured data in a flexible way. In addition to supporting both synchronous and asynchronous replication, the NoSQL database further replicate data across multiple data centers seamlessly.

Highly Scalable

Cassandra is designed as highly scalable NoSQL database. It even outperforms several widely used NoSQL databases in the category of scalability. When the application needs to cater to more users or handle additional data, an enterprise can add the required hardware without any restriction. The linearly scalable design of the database further makes it easier for enterprises to speed up applications and handle huge volumes of data by adding extra nodes. Cassandra further eliminates fault tolerance by replicating data automatically across various nodes.

Supports Multiple Data Centers and Cloud Zones

In terms of design, Cassandra is a distributed NoSQL database. It supports data centers located across geographic locations. Also, it supports multiple cloud availability zones. At the same time, Cassandra allows developers to read access read and write data from various data centers and cloud availability zones. The option makes it easier for enterprises to improve uptime by through data centers across multiple regions. Cassandra further synchronizes data across varied regions automatically.

Cassandra Query Language

While building data-based applications, the programmers can take advantage of the Cassandra Query Language (CQL). They can even use CQL as an alternative to SQL for accessing the NoSQL database. CQL further provides native syntaxes for various collections and encodings. The language drivers provided by CQL enable developers to write code in a number of widely used programming languages – Java, Python, C++, Go and NodeJS.

Use Cases

At present, Cassandra is being used for big data application development by several large enterprises including eBay, Hulu, Instagram, Netflix, GitHub, Reditt and GoDaddy. Also, Apple uses Cassandra to store over 10PB of data in 75000 nodes. Hence, an enterprise can use Cassandra to run a variety of applications that handle huge volumes of data smoothly and consistently. Its architecture and design further makes Cassandra faster and more scalable than other widely used NoSQL databases.

The developers can use the NoSQL database to boost user experience of ecommerce applications by accelerating product catalog and search. Likewise, the mobile app developers can use Cassandra as robust backend for data-driven and messaging apps. Cassandra even simplified Internet of Things (IoT) application development by facilitation consumption of incoming data from varied devices and embedded sensors.

Java-based Management and Monitoring Solutions

Cassandra is a Java-based system. The developers can manage and monitor the NoSQL database by using Java Management Extensions.  The nodetool utility further allows developers to add a variety of instrumentations to Cassandra. The developers can use nodetool utility to manage Cassandra clusters efficiently. Also, nodetool utility enables developers to perform performance monitoring by running specific commands. The developers can run commands to monitor latency, disk space usage, and garbage collection based on relevant Cassandra metrics.

On the whole, Apache Cassandra is widely popular NoSQL database. As an open source non-relational database, it helps enterprises to reduce cost of developing real-time software applications and custom big data solutions. At the same time, Cassandra has been evolving consistently to handle huge volumes data and deliver optimal availability.