DataStax sends Cassandra newbies ad Astra with new cloud service

database

NoSQL database provider DataStax has added DataStax Astra to its Cassandra-based portfolio, this time playing to the database-as-a-service crowd, which has higher performance expectations.

Ed Anuff, the company’s new chief product officer, told DevClass on a call that Astra was mainly motivated by the DataStax user base, who have been asking for a cloud service for “a long time” already. 

This might come as a surprise to some, given that many cloud providers offer ways to use Cassandra on their platform, but the process of installing and operating it isn’t always as easy as teams would hope and the difference in performance can be quite noticeable.

“Our users [..] want something that actually behaves like Cassandra. When they bring their applications, they have expectations of compatibility and performance, of how they interact and integrate into the service. So that’s something that you get from Astra that is pretty unique,” Anuff said.

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To get the service to tick all those boxes and bring “real” Cassandra to the cloud instead of emulating it, DataStax had to make use of its Kubernetes operator, which it released just last March. Its introduction was presented as a renewal of the company’s commitment to the open source project after focusing on its Enterprise platform for a while.

According to Anuff, the open source community will also be able to profit from Astra, since it for example comes with REST and GraphQL endpoints, which he promises will become openly available, and can help to make Cassandra as a whole more accessible. 

“Many customers want to have more developers on their teams and have them build different types of apps,” Anuff said. 

The new additions could help with that, since Cassandra’s query language CQL isn’t necessarily a staple in young dev’s toolkits, and having Python or Node.js available for data ingestion could play a role in future-proofing the database.

An endpoint by itself however won’t do much good to get newbies onto the Cassandra ship, which is why DataStax also threw in some learning material for building database skills and a free Astra tier that allows one active database with 10GB storage to get going. 

Out of the box Astra is said to include an API to create authorization tokens, a CQL shell for creating tables, inserting and modifying data, a developer studio to help devs get going, a bulk data loader and a metrics dashboard to get insight on latency and throughput.

For now, the product is deployable on AWS and GCP only, with Azure support planned for later this summer. However, Astra is meant to provide maximum portability in the long run and supports older Cassandra installations as well.

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