Apache Cassandra – the Highly Scalable NoSQL Database

The NoSQL database movement happened because traditional relational databases simply don’t work as well in the highly distributed environments typical of today’s Web infrastructure. We recently covered the NoSQL graph database, Neo4j, here at the blog. It serves the needs of those looking to find relationships between records within huge Big Data stores.

This time out, we train our eye towards Apache Cassandra. Leveraging a key-value storage model, Cassandra offers high scalability and latency across widely distributed data centers. Read further to see if this NoSQL database makes sense for your organization’s data management needs.

The Genesis of Cassandra

Cassandra began as an internal project at Facebook. It actually powered the auto-complete functionality in the social network’s search box. Facebook released the project into the open source community in 2008. It became an Apache Software Foundation top level project in 2010 after two years in the incubator.

The latest release of Cassandra – 3.10 – became available in February of this year. As a fully open source database, it is downloadable for free. A free application with cross-platform support for most popular operating systems makes it worth checking out on a pilot project at your organization. Driver support exists for many current programming languages, like Java (using JDBC), Python, Node.js, Go, and C++.

Enterprises looking for a commercial NoSQL solution built upon Cassandra need to check out DataStax’s offerings. That company is known as the leading commercial provider of support for the database.

Cassandra’s Features and Functionality

Highly scalable distributed performance is Cassandra’s major calling card. DataStax provides a white paper comparing third-party benchmarks of a few of the most popular NoSQL databases (MongoDB, Couchbase, Hive), which revealed Cassandra as the top performer by a wide margin. Fault tolerance and replication are also seamlessly handled across a multitude of data centers – an important feature considering the modern global business landscape.

Impressive scalability also distinguishes Cassandra from similar NoSQL database products. Many enterprise users of the database boast massive production deployments, highlighted by Apple’s 10 petabytes of data spread over 75,000 nodes. Netflix also stores 420 terabytes of data across 2,500 nodes. Needless to say, Cassandra has rapidly become the database of choice for these enormous chunks of Big Data.

The database’s architecture provides no single points of failure; ensuring access to the data isn’t hampered by large amounts of network traffic. Since every node is identical, an entire data center can go offline without any loss of data. This kind of durability makes Cassandra very attractive to businesses with mission-critical applications – built-in support for multiple data centers is another plus.

Adding new servers to a deployment is also a breeze, according to DataStax’s lead Cassandra evangelist, Patrick McFadin. “You simply boot up a new machine and tell Cassandra where the other nodes are and it takes care of the rest,” said McFadin.

Superior horizontal scalability combined with ease of administration make Cassandra a worthy option for businesses looking to embrace NoSQL for their modern database needs. Its driver support for most popular languages lets developers come up to speed quickly. This is one open source database worth checking out.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading!

Is FaaS – Features-as-a-Service – the Next Big Thing in Software Development?

The growing popularity of the Cloud-based service model has led to a plethora of acronyms ending in “aaS.” Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) remain three of the most common examples of these service offerings in the tech industry. Businesses of all sizes enjoy cost savings by leveraging the Cloud in this manner.

Now software developers, trying to keep up in an increasingly rapid business world, have their own Cloud-based service acronym. Enter Features-as-a-Service (FaaS). Does FaaS give application engineers the chance to build more functional software faster and at a lower cost? Let’s take a look.

Code Reuse in a Cloud-based Wrapper

Code reuse is a traditional way for programmers to accomplish more by doing less. It’s one of the reasons libraries and APIs are so popular throughout the industry. We’ve covered this technology and API Testing extensively in the past on this very blog.

FaaS essentially just makes this process more componentized; delivering a library of functionality in a convenient Cloud-based wrapper for software engineers to use in their own applications. Instead of spending time reinventing the wheel, developers are able to focus on the unique functionality that makes their app special. Technology VP, JT Ripton commented on the FaaS trend

“Whereas on the backend developers already are using pay-as-you-go infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services for cloud computing and services such as Stripe for payment processing, FaaS takes the same approach but applies it to the front end,” said Ripton. He also notes developers struggling with implementing a public API need to consider FaaS as an option when speed is of the essence.

Scenarios where Usage of a FaaS is Smart

A variety of FaaS providers are currently supporting common functional areas within applications, potentially saving development teams both time and money. Mapbox is one such provider worthy of consideration when compared to Google’s Map API and its arcane documentation. A plug-and-play model simply works more efficiently in today’s era of Agile and DevOps.

Social interactivity is another good example. There is no need to build social functionality from scratch, when a provider like Tapglue offers their own FaaS. Their service includes functionality supporting user profiles and news feeds, as well as interactive features like sharing, commenting, and more.

Agora.io offers a FaaS that adds real time communication – voice and video – to an application. This would be a boon for a game developer working on a MMORPG or any other type of multiplayer title. Concentrate on your game’s functionality; not on getting codecs to work properly on a variety of devices.

Ripton stresses the essential difference between FaaS and other types of code reuse like an API is the front-end component. This is especially useful for teams without their own UI design talent. He feels this is a natural progression on how software gets written.

“FaaS is just the next evolution of the mashup and code reuse trend that’s been picking up steam over the past several decades. It isn’t a “revolutionary” idea, or even truly innovative. But it is perfectly in line with the way we code today — it is a new application of something we’ve seen before,” said Ripton.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights from an ever-changing software development world. Thanks for reading!

DevOps becoming Standard at the Enterprise

A competitive business environment requires companies to work faster than ever before – including their software development initiatives. This remains one of the major reasons organizations look towards Agile as an application engineering methodology. Making Agile work efficiently requires better collaboration between the various departments within IT, with DevOps seeing increasingly wide adoption as an organizational structure to improve interaction between teams.

In fact, DevOps isn’t only for companies on the bleeding edge of innovation. It is fast becoming a standard at enterprises as well as smaller businesses. Let’s take a closer look at this trend, as it may be time to leverage the advantages of improved collaboration at your shop.

The Emerging Popularity of DevOps is linked with the Growth of the Cloud

Writing for BetaNews, IT infrastructure architect, Jon Topper feels the entry of DevOps into the enterprise mainstream is related to the now near-standard status of Cloud-based services at the business. “2016’s increase in adoption ties in directly with the growing confidence in and uptake of public cloud technologies too. DevOps and cloud remain closely linked; it’s our view that a cloud strategy without a DevOps approach will probably fail,” said Topper.

Since its introduction over six years ago, DevOps has undergone the same level of iterative improvement at those innovative companies first using the organizational structure. With more businesses looking at the Cloud for cost savings and productivity improvements, it now makes sense to use a now mature DevOps as part of a migration to a Cloud-based infrastructure.

A Nimble Business simply competes Better

Providing better customer service – at either a B2B or B2C level – remains a key factor separating the top companies from the also-rans no matter the industry. A desire for this kind of business agility is also causing enterprises to embrace DevOps to streamline their software development and infrastructure management processes with no loss in productivity. In short, a nimble business is a better competitor.

“We’re now getting to the stage where, without a DevOps approach, businesses can’t unlock agility without compromising on quality, security, and people. It’s become a requirement to stay ahead of the game,” comments Jon Topper.

DevOps Adoption brings many Benefits to a Business

Adopting a DevOps structure at an IT department provides a host of tangible benefits to the business. A yearly study – the State of DevOps Report – produced by the software development company, Puppet, details some of these gains. They include the ability to “deploy 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates.”

Firms using DevOps also enjoy higher employee loyalty ratings. They spent 22 percent less time on reworking code; allowing 29 percent more time for new features and innovations, according to the Puppet Study. In short, DevOps is a must if an enterprise wants to successfully compete in today’s business landscape.

Looking at the informed analysis of an IT industry pundit combined with hard numbers from a research study, it is easy to understand why DevOps is rapidly becoming the standard at today’s technology shop. Businesses who forego it do so at their own peril!

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and dispatches from the world of software development. Thanks for reading!