Analysis and discussion of the open source data management project Cassandra. Related subjects include:
A reporter tweeted: ”Is there a simple plain English definition for NoSQL?” After reminding him of my cynical yet accurate Third Law of Commercial Semantics, I gave it a serious try, and came up with the following. More precisely, I tweeted the bolded parts of what’s below; the rest is commentary added for this post.
NoSQL is most easily defined by what it excludes: SQL, joins, strong analytic alternatives to those, and some forms of database integrity. If you leave all four out, and you have a strong scale-out story, you’re in the NoSQL mainstream. Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, dbShards and CodeFutures, MarkLogic, MySQL, Object, Open source, Petabyte-scale data management, Schooner Information Technology||7 Comments|
The DataStax and Cassandra stories are somewhat confusing. Unfortunately, DataStax chose to clarify them in what has turned out to be a crazy news week. I’m going to use this post just to report on the status of the DataStax product line, without going into any analysis beyond that.
I decided I needed some Couchbase drilldown, on business and technology alike, so I had solid chats with both CEO Bob Wiederhold and Chief Architect Dustin Sallings. Pretty much everything I wrote at the time Membase and CouchOne merged to form Couchbase (the company) still holds up. But I have more detail now.
Context for any comments on customer traction includes:
- Membase went into limited production release in October, and full release in January. Similar things are true of CouchDB.
- Hence, most sales of Couchbase’s products have been made over the past 6 months.
- Couchbase (the merged product) is at this point only in a pre-production developer’s release.
- Couchbase has both a direct sales force and a classic open-source “funnel”-based online selling model. Naturally, Couchbase’s understanding of what its customers are doing is more solid with respect to the direct sales base.
- Most of Couchbase’s revenue to date seems to have come from a limited number of big-ticket “lighthouse” accounts (as opposed to, say, the larger number of smaller deals that come in through the online funnel).
- Most Membase purchases are for new applications, as opposed to memcached migrations. However, customers are the kinds of companies that probably also are using memcached elsewhere.
- Most other Membase purchases are replacements for the Membase/MySQL combination. Bob says those are easy sales with short sales cycles.
- Pure memcached support is a small but non-zero business for Couchbase, and a fine source of upsell opportunities.
- In the pipeline but not so much yet in the customer base are SaaS vendors and the like who use and may want to replace traditional DBMS such as Oracle. Other than among those, Couchbase doesn’t compete much yet with Oracle et al.
- Pure CouchDB isn’t all that much of a business, at least relative to community size, as CouchDB is a single-server product commonly used by people who are content not to pay for support.
Membase sales are concentrated in five kinds of internet-centric companies, which in declining order are: Read more
As a follow-up to the latest Stonebraker kerfuffle, Derrick Harris asked me a bunch of smart followup questions. My responses and afterthoughts include:
- Facebook et al. are in effect Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors, not enterprise technology users. In particular:
- They have the technical chops to rewrite their code as needed.
- Unlike packaged software vendors, they’re not answerable to anybody for keeping legacy code alive after a rewrite. That makes migration a lot easier.
- If they want to write different parts of their system on different technical underpinnings, nobody can stop them. For example …
- … Facebook innovated Cassandra, and is now heavily committed to HBase.
- It makes little sense to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL.” Better to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding.” That said:
- It’s hard to see why somebody today would use MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for a new project. At least one of Couchbase or transparently-sharded MySQL is very likely a superior alternative. Other alternatives might be better yet.
- As noted above in the example of Facebook, the many major web businesses that are using MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for existing projects can be presumed able to migrate away from that stack as the need arises.
Continuing with that discussion of DBMS alternatives:
- If you just want to write to the memcached API anyway, why not go with Couchbase?
- If you want to go relational, why not go with MySQL? There are many alternatives for scaling or accelerating MySQL — dbShards, Schooner, Akiban, Tokutek, ScaleBase, ScaleDB, Clustrix, and Xeround come to mind quickly, so there’s a great chance that one or more will fit your use case. (And if you don’t get the choice of MySQL flavor right the first time, porting to another one shouldn’t be all THAT awful.)
- If you really, really want to go in-memory, and don’t mind writing Java stored procedures, and don’t need to do the kinds of joins it isn’t good at, but do need to do the kinds of joins it is, VoltDB could indeed be a good alternative.
And while we’re at it — going schema-free often makes a whole lot of sense. I need to write much more about the point, but for now let’s just say that I look favorably on the Big Four schema-free/NoSQL options of MongoDB, Couchbase, HBase, and Cassandra.
We hear much these days about unstructured or semi-structured (as opposed to) structured data. Those are misnomers, however, for at least two reasons. First, it’s not really the data that people think is un-, semi-, or fully structured; it’s databases.* Relational databases are highly structured, but the data within them is unstructured — just lists of numbers or character strings, whose only significance derives from the structure that the database imposes.
*Here I’m using the term “database” literally, rather than as a concise synonym for “database management system”. But see below.
Second, a more accurate distinction is not whether a database has one structure or none – it’s whether a database has one structure or many. The easiest way to see this is for databases that have clearly-defined schemas. A relational database has one schema (even if it is just the union of various unrelated sub-schemas); an XML database, however, can have as many schemas as it contains documents.
One small terminological problem is easily handled, namely that people don’t talk about true databases very often, at least when they’re discussing generalities; rather, they talk about data and DBMS.* So let’s talk of DBMS being “structured” singly or multiply or whatever, just as the databases they’re designed to manage are.
*And they refer to the DBMS as “databases,” because they don’t have much other use for the word.
All that said — I think that single vs. multiple database structures isn’t a bright-line binary distinction; rather, it’s a spectrum. For example: Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, Couchbase, Data models and architecture, HBase, IBM and DB2, MarkLogic, MongoDB and 10gen, NoSQL, Splunk, Theory and architecture||18 Comments|
There’s been a flurry of announcements recently in the Hadoop world. Much of it has been concentrated on Hadoop data storage and management. This is understandable, since HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) is quite a young (i.e. immature) system, with much strengthening and Bottleneck Whack-A-Mole remaining in its future.
Known HDFS and Hadoop data storage and management issues include but are not limited to:
- Hadoop is run by a master node, and specifically a namenode, that’s a single point of failure.
- HDFS compression could be better.
- HDFS likes to store three copies of everything, whereas many DBMS and file systems are satisfied with two.
- Hive (the canonical way to do SQL joins and so on in Hadoop) is slow.
Different entities have different ideas about how such deficiencies should be addressed. Read more
|Categories: Aster Data, Cassandra, Cloudera, Data warehouse appliances, DataStax, EMC, Greenplum, Hadapt, Hadoop, IBM and DB2, MapReduce, MongoDB and 10gen, Netezza, Parallelization||22 Comments|
Cassandra company DataStax is introducing a Hadoop distribution called Brisk, for use cases that combine short-request and analytic processing. Brisk in essence replaces HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) with a Cassandra-based file system called CassandraFS. The whole thing is due to be released (Apache open source) within the next 45 days.
The core claims for Cassandra/Brisk/CassandraFS are:
- CassandraFS has the same interface as HDFS. So, in particular, you should be able to use most Hadoop add-ons with Brisk.
- CassandraFS has comparable performance to HDFS on sequential scans. That’s without predicate pushdown to Cassandra, which is Coming Soon but won’t be in the first Brisk release.
- Brisk/CassandraFS is much easier to administer than HDFS. In particular, there are no NameNodes, JobTracker single points of failure, or any other form of head node. Brisk/CassandraFS is strictly peer-to-peer.
- Cassandra is far superior to HBase for short-request use cases, specifically with 5-6X the random-access performance.
There’s a pretty good white paper around all this, which also recites general Cassandra claims –  and here at last is the link.
Riptano, the Cassandra company, has changed its name to DataStax. DataStax has opened headquarters in Burlingame and hired some database-experienced folks – notably Ben Werther from Greenplum and Michael Weir from ParAccel, with Zenobia Godschalk (who worked with Aster Data) somewhere in the outside PR mix. Other than that, what’s new at DataStax is pretty much what could have been expected based on what DataStax folks said last spring.
Most notably, DataStax is introducing a software offering, whose full name is DataStax OpsCenter for Apache Cassandra. DataStax OpsCenter for Apache Cassandra seems to be, in essence, a monitoring tool for Cassandra clusters, with a bit of capacity planning bundled in. (If there are any outright operations parts to DataStax OpsCenter, they got overlooked in our conversation.)* Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, DataStax, Market share and customer counts, NoSQL, Specific users, Telecommunications||1 Comment|
Since posting last Wednesday morning that I’m looking into NoSQL and HVSP, I’ve had a lot of conversations, including with (among others):
- Dwight Merriman of 10gen (MongoDB)
- Damien Katz of Couchio (CouchDB)
- Matt Pfeil of Riptano (Cassandra)
- Todd Lipcon of Cloudera (HBase committer)
- Tony Falco of Basho (Riak)
- John Busch of Schooner
- Ori Herrnstadt of Akiban
I was asked to do a magazine article on NoSQL, where by “NoSQL” is meant “whatever they talk about at NoSQL conferences.” By now the number of publications planning to run the article is up to 2, the deadline is next week and, crucially, it has been agreed that I may talk about HVSP in general, NoSQL and SQL alike.
It also is understood that, realistically, I can’t be expected to know and mention the very latest news for all the many products in the categories. Even so, I think this would be fine time to check just where NoSQL and HVSP adoption stand. Here is most of what I know, or links to same; it would be great if you guys would contribute additional data in the comment thread.
In the NoSQL area: Read more
|Categories: Akiban, Cassandra, Clustering, Clustrix, Couchbase, dbShards and CodeFutures, Facebook, Groovy Corporation, NewSQL, NoSQL, OLTP, Parallelization, ScaleDB, Specific users, VoltDB and H-Store, Zynga||17 Comments|