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December 3, 2019updated 04 Apr 2022 12:58pm

AWS: Yes, We’re Launching a Managed Apache Cassandra Service; No, We’re Not Monsters

"Here's $100k in AWS credits..."

By CBR Staff Writer

Last year at Re:Invent — AWS’s 60,000-strong annual jamboree in Vegas — the company ruffled some feathers by announcing a managed version of the open source software Apache Kafka, despite having been far from involved in the upstream development of the data streaming toolkit.

Unflustered by some of the cries of outrage from the open source community that this move triggered, it’s come back for more, with CEO Andy Jassy announcing that AWS will now also be offering a managed Apache Cassandra service; now available via beta release today.

Predictably, not everyone was happy…

See also: AWS Launches Managed Kafka: Is It “Strip Mining” Open Source?

Apache Cassandra is an open source project that was originally born at Facebook. It is a distributed database for managing large amounts of structured data across many commodity servers, while providing highly available service and no single point of failure.

Prominent UK users include Monzo Bank, which uses Apache Cassandra to underpin its transactional database.

AWS Managed Cassandra

The new AWS managed Cassandra offering is built on version 3.11 of the CQL API, and the release comes with the customary managed services pitch of making open source software easier to handle.

(“Managing large Cassandra clusters can be difficult and takes a lot of time… It’s hard to backup and restore a cluster if something goes wrong during an update, and you may end up skipping patches.”)

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It was not immediately clear if (but seems unlikely) AWS will let the database  replicate to Google or Azure; something several Apache Cassandra users aim to do as they look for a platform-agnostic experience. 

A supplementary blog by AWS’s Matt Asay aimed to nip any open source gripes in the bud. He wrote: “In open source, code matters. But so does the operation of that code. We will be contributing both to Cassandra.

“We hope to grow Cassandra’s popularity”

“By removing the operational burden from developers building Cassandra applications, we hope to grow Cassandra’s popularity. Amazon Managed Cassandra Service demonstrates the long-term commitment that AWS is making to the Cassandra API and the associated community of developers. Finally, AWS offering a Cassandra-compatible service and investing in developer evangelism will help build awareness for Cassandra.”

AWS’s Asay added: “As we work with the Cassandra API libraries, we will contribute bug fixes. We will also improve the developer experience of building applications on Cassandra.” (e.g. built-in support for AWS authentication (SigV4), for customers running Cassandra on Amazon EC2,)

AWS also said it is providing $100,000 in AWS promotional credits to test Cassandra-related applications, a move that was met with disdain by one developer today who told Computer Business Review: “It looks like they just added a compatibility layer in top of DynamoDB.

“And their contribution to the community is $100k to use more AWS? Lol!”

Red Hat’s Ashesh Badani was also unimpressed…

Two companies likely to be impacted are managed Cassandra providers Instaclustr and Datastax.  The latter’s CTO and co-founder, Jonathan Ellis, told Computer Business Review: “Enterprises in every industry have seen big returns from their investments in Cassandra.

“The AWS announcement is further validation of the reach and growing importance of Cassandra. DataStax is the largest contributor of code, service, support, and training to the Apache Cassandra project and community, and we recognize the sign of a flourishing project is greater market attention and investment. With that, we welcome Amazon’s news as another vehicle that accelerates Cassandra adoption.”

Instaclustr did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but CTO Ben Bromhead retweeted a 2015 tweet saying “with every #awsreinvent new service announcement I can hear the cries of a dozen startups

The beta release of AWS managed Cassandra is available as of today in five regions but just one in Europe (Stockholm). 

Got any thoughts on the launch you’d like to share? 

See also: AWS’s New Graviton2 Processors Put Intel, NVIDIA on Notice

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