Examining Apache Cassandra versus Open Core Alternatives

Apache Cassandra’s highly scalable, distributed NoSQL database has a lot to offer the modern enterprise burdened by high-volume data. As its popularity and reliance has grown, its open core competitors have evolved to deliver similar functionality with expanded capabilities—at a cost.

Bassam Chahine, senior consultant, Instaclustr (by NetApp), joined DBTA’s webinar, Unraveling the Differences Between Apache Cassandra and Its Open Core Competitors, to explore the fundamentals of Apache Cassandra as well as its open core competitors, offering a comprehensive look at the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Chahine, with nearly ten years of experience working with Cassandra, Kafka, and OpenSearch, walked webinar viewers through the Cassandra basics. As an open source, NoSQL distributed database that delivers scalability, high availability, and high performance, Apache Cassandra is the perfect platform for mission-critical data, according to the Apache Software Foundation.

The database’s key differentiator—NoSQL—is an umbrella term for a class of database technologies that do not use the relational model or SQL. Instead, these database types overcome the limitations of traditional relational database technology—such as high availability, flexible schemas, and transaction throughput—which Cassandra capitalizes on.

Apache Cassandra’s key features and benefits include the following:

  • Linear Scalability
  • High Availability
  • Low Latency
  • Uses Commodity Hardware
  • Open Source

The open core model, according to Chahine, is software that adds proprietary “enterprise-level” features to the open source code. However, these enhancements to Cassandra often come with a license, and therefore, extra costs. This leads to vendor lock-in, departing from the purpose of open source technology.

Examining the licensing, ecosystem, features, and performance of open core technologies for Cassandra is crucial toward enabling database success tailored to an organization's exact needs, explained Chahine.

On the topic of licensing, Chahine stated that while the open core software is initially free in its community version, any changes to the code on behalf of the enterprise using the technology will inherit the original open source code’s licensing terms—a.k.a. the copyleft license.

Ultimately, choosing between Apache Cassandra and an open-core alternative is entirely dependent on an enterprise’s evaluation of each software and what will best suit its individual proprietary needs. Chahine explained that viewers should consider:

  • Needs analysis, or what features—such as encryption, LDAP authentication, analytics, or search—are required by your enterprise
  • Cost analysis in regard to licensing and support
  • Security, including authentication, authorization, and encryption both in-transit and at-rest
  • Flexibility, examining vendor lock-in, migration to from self hosted to a managed service, and various plug-ins
  • Community advantage, or which software benefits from extensive community testing, security fixes, and feature developments

For the full, in-depth webinar exploring the utility of Apache Cassandra versus open core software, you can view an archived version of the webinar here.