DataStax makes major enhancements to Apache Cassandra with DataStax Enterprise 6

DataStax, which was the driver in building Apache Cassandra, makes major changes to the platform for the first time in their commercial product, to make it more enterprise-friendly by dramatically upgrading performance and removing manual work.

Martin Van Ryswyk, EVP of Product and Engineering at DataStax

Santa Clara-based DataStax, which makes a distributed cloud database built on Apache Cassandra, has announced their DataStax Enterprise 6 [DSE 6] their enterprise version of Cassandra. It represents a massive leap forward from its predecessors, introducing new features and functionality, that responds to what enterprises are asking for in hybrid cloud environments.

“Our engineers essentially built the Cassandra OS, with 85 per cent of it coming from them,” said Martin Van Ryswyk, EVP of Product and Engineering at DataStax. “With DSE 6, for the first time we have made changes to the core of the Cassandra platform itself. It’s a radically better product for enterprises, which make Cassandra much more useful for them with less headache.

We are still committed to Cassandra and Open Source, and don’t see this as being a fork away from it. The new features in our enterprise distribution are needed for that market. We are still proud of our connection with Cassandra, but our new engine blows it away.”

Van Ryswyck identified three major enhancements to the Cassandra platform in the DSE 6 release. The first is DSE NodeSync, which eliminates many tasks which had previously had to be performed manually

“Cassandra has always had a lot of manual steps, which make things more cumbersome to manage,” he said. “That’s not what enterprises want. DSE 6 NodeSync removes 90 per cent of manual maintenance operations. It makes it self-driving, and greatly improves efficiency.” It also allows DSE 6 to be managed by much more junior DBAs and DevOps people, creating cost savings there as well.

A related new service, DSE Upgrade Service, provides error-free patch upgrades with 60 less manual involvement than Apache Cassandra. A white-glove service of DSE with DataStax Managed Cloud for either Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure, which removes operational management duties completely, is now available as well.

The second major improvement is massive increases to raw horsepower performance.

“We undertook a massive rearchitecting to provide twice the performance of read and write that we had before,” Van Ryswyck said. “That’s huge. It’s hard when you are already very high performance to squeeze out another 10 per cent, but we doubled it with performance engineering. We think that this is revolutionary, not evolutionary.”

The third major enhancement is the ability to do robust transactional analytics.

“We don’t complete with Hadoop, but we have had a Spark integration that lets you run Spark workloads on top of us,” Van Ryswyck said. “The problem was that it still had the vestiges of an OLAP system. With DSE 6, we have a much more effective analytics integration.”

DataStax has a hybrid go-to-market model, in which most of their business is direct. They do, however, have a significant channel which includes both system integrators and resellers.

“We work with a lot of the big SIs,” Van Ryswyck said. “Deloitte is a great go-to-market partner in the federal space. We also have small boutique partners. We have been a Microsoft partner of the year, and work closely with the Azure team. Azure Cosmos is a competitor to us, but on the IaaS part, we are super-friendly.

“The things that make the product easier for our customers to use also make it an easier play for channel partners,” Van Ryswyck pointed out. “They make it more channel-ready.”

While Oracle is technically a competitor because of their database footprint, Van Ryswyck said that they seldom compete head to head.

“They are less of a competitor because our market tends to be people who move off it,” he said. “Their database was designed in the 1970s for transactional systems, and has a scale-up architecture, The competition with them is only for mindshare. We see AWS, Google and Azure as competitors around their products which do similar things. But we have real feature advantages, and we don’t lock you into one cloud. That’s why we think we have the world’s best distributed database for the hybrid cloud.”

DataStax Enterprise 6 is available for download including as a Docker container for non-production environments.