DataStax Wants To Make Cassandra The Best NoSQL Of Them All

Newly renamed company wants to keep Cassandra open and the best

The NoSQL databases featuring massive scalability developed for and used by the big social networks like Facebook and Twitter have created a whole new category.  Amazingly (or not) most of the competitors in this space are open source projects.  Most of these open source projects also have corporate entities that have sprung up around them to offer support and services. Perhaps the first and one of the better known of these open source NoSQL projects is Cassandra. DataStax is the company that is bringing Cassandra support, products and services to market.

I recently had a chance to chat with Ben Werther, VP of product, Michael Weir, VP of marketing and Matt Pfeil, CEO and co-founder of DataStax. Some of you may have known DataStax by its former name, Riptano. Originally started by Pfeil and John Ellis from Rackspace, the company was headquartered in Austin, Texas. Recently at the O'Reilly Strata conference, DataStax announced their new name, as well as moving the company from Austin to the Bay Area in California.  

The company has raised a 2.7 million Series A round with blue chip investors like Sequoia and Lightspeed Ventures. Using that money and moving near Silicon Valley, DataStax is rolling out a series of products and services around Cassandra. Cassandra itself though will remain open of course. It is an Apache Top Level project and the Apache project is managed by DataStax personnel.

For those who don't know, Cassandra was originally developed by Facebook to power their inbox search feature.  In 2010 Facebook announced it was moving away from Cassandra, but by then many companies attracted by its massive scalability had already started using Cassandra. Among those are Twitter,Netflix, Digg, IBM, Cisco's Webex and others.

Pfeil actually thinks the whole NoSQL name is a misnomer. The company has built its OpsCenter produt to manage Cassandra. On top of this it wants to develop products that are built up the stack from Cassandra's base. This along with services and support of Cassandra form the companies model for capitalizing on Cassandra's use.

While there are other NoSQL projects like Membase and Memcache, the DataStax folks see Hadoop as the company it runs into most. Cloudera is the commercial company that is behind Hadoop. The relationship betwen Cassandra and Hadoop while not strictly competitive is sort of a "coopetition".  It will be interesting to see how these two projects (both Apache projects) co-exist in the months to come.  Both have strong support in their community.

In the meantime the so called NoSQL space marches on. The funny thing is after having spoken to so many in this space, no one really likes the NoSQL name, but it continues to stick. MySQL, PostgresSQL and other open source relational databases continue to grow and co-exist with these NoSQL databases. There are still those who debate which of these is being used by who. But what is clear is that the massive scalability, redundancy and performance makes this class of data tool a must have in the web world of today and even more so tomorrow.

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