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Open-Source and DataStax Cassandra Versions: A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Satish Rakhonde | 7 min read | November 8, 2023

In the realm of distributed databases, Apache Cassandra has established itself as a robust, scalable, and highly available solution. Known for its ability to handle massive amounts of data across multiple nodes with no single point of failure, Cassandra has become a popular choice for organizations dealing with big data and real-time applications.

In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between the open-source Apache Cassandra project and DataStax, a company that offers an enterprise version of Cassandra, along with the different options available in both ecosystems.

Understanding Apache Cassandra

Apache Cassandra is a free and open-source distributed database management system designed to handle large amounts of data across multiple commodity servers. It follows a peer-to-peer architecture, employing a decentralized approach to data storage and replication. Cassandra’s distributed nature provides fault tolerance and linear scalability, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring high availability and rapid scalability.

Cassandra feature highlights include:

  • Open-source
  • Elastic scalability
  • High availability and fault tolerance
  • Peer-to-peer architecture
  • High performance
  • Column oriented
  • Tuneable consistency
  • Schema-free

Open-Source Apache Cassandra

The open-source Apache Cassandra project, governed by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), continues to be actively developed and maintained by a diverse community of contributors. The community-driven development model ensures that Cassandra remains freely available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute, subject to the terms of the Apache License.

DataStax Cassandra

DataStax is a company that builds and supports an enterprise version of Apache Cassandra, known as DataStax Enterprise (DSE). DataStax enhances Cassandra with additional features, tools, and enterprise-grade support, catering to the needs of organizations that require advanced functionality, security, and professional services.

Key Similarities

Both open-source Cassandra and DataStax Cassandra versions share a common foundation, as DataStax’s distribution is based on the Apache Cassandra project. This means that applications built for one version can generally run on the other with minimal modifications.

They also both provide the benefits of Cassandra’s distributed architecture, fault tolerance, and scalability. Additionally, both versions support the Cassandra Query Language (CQL), a SQL-like language used to interact with the database, allowing developers to leverage their existing CQL skills.

Feature Comparison

While open-source Cassandra and DataStax Cassandra versions share many similarities, there are notable differences in the features they offer:

  • Security: DataStax Enterprise includes advanced security features such as built-in authentication, role-based access control, and data encryption at rest and in transit. These features are essential for organizations that require stringent security measures.
  • Analytics: DataStax Enterprise incorporates Apache Spark, a powerful analytics engine, into its distribution. This integration enables real-time data processing and complex analytics directly on the Cassandra database, eliminating the need for data movement and reducing latency.
  • Management and Monitoring: DataStax Enterprise provides comprehensive management and monitoring tools, such as DataStax OpsCenter. These tools offer enhanced visibility into cluster performance, automated backups, and proactive alerting, simplifying database administration.
  • Support: DataStax offers commercial enterprise level support, including patches and updates, for its Cassandra distribution.

Apache Cassandra Versions

Apache Cassandra has new releases being regularly introduced. Each version brings bug fixes, performance improvements, and occasionally introduces new features. Some notable versions include:

  • Apache Cassandra 2.x: This version introduced several key features, such as lightweight transactions, triggers, and user-defined types. It served as a significant milestone in Cassandra’s development, enhancing its functionality and performance. This version is end of life and no longer being maintained.
  • Apache Cassandra 3.x: Cassandra 3.x brought numerous improvements, including better compaction strategies, virtual tables, and materialized views. This version focused on enhancing performance and usability. This version will be reaching end of life once 5.x, currently in preview, is released in November – December 2023.
  • Apache Cassandra 4.x: The latest major release, Cassandra 4.x, aims to deliver significant architectural improvements, improved read and write performance, and better support for multi-workload use cases.

DataStax Enterprise (DSE) Versions

DataStax Enterprise, being an enterprise-grade distribution of Cassandra, provides additional features and functionality beyond the open-source version. DSE versions align closely with Apache Cassandra versions but also include proprietary enhancements tailored for enterprise deployments. Some notable DSE versions include:

  • DataStax Enterprise 4.x: Corresponding to Apache Cassandra 2.x, DSE 4.x incorporated all the improvements of Cassandra 2.x, while adding enterprise features like advanced security options, analytics integration, and visual management tools. This version is end of life.
  • DataStax Enterprise 5.x: Aligned with Cassandra 3.x, DSE 5.x offered enhanced search capabilities, advanced security features, and improved analytics performance. It also introduced DSE Graph, a graph database layer on top of Cassandra.
  • DataStax Enterprise 6.x: Following Cassandra 3.x, DSE 6.x focused on operational simplicity, making it easier to deploy and manage Cassandra clusters. It introduced features like NodeSync for automatic repair and advanced workload isolation.
  • DataStax Enterprise 7.x: The latest major release, in developer preview as of this writing, DSE 7.x, is built upon Cassandra 4.x and offers a wide range of features, including advanced analytics, container deployment, and vector search for generative AI apps.

Datastax also offers Datastax Astra DB, a multi-cloud Database as a Service solution. This is a cloud-native offering that supports many APIs and programming languages, to allow for fast development of highly scalable real-time applications.

Choosing the Right Version

Deciding between open-source Cassandra and DataStax Cassandra versions depends on your specific requirements and organizational needs.

If you prioritize flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and have the resources to manage your Cassandra deployment independently, the open-source version may be the right choice.

On the other hand, if you require enterprise-grade features, advanced security, analytics capabilities, and dedicated support, DataStax Enterprise offers a comprehensive solution.

Apache Cassandra, as an open-source distributed database, has evolved through various versions, each bringing valuable improvements and features. DataStax offers both the community edition of Cassandra and an enterprise-ready distribution called DataStax Enterprise, providing additional functionalities and support.

Whether you opt for the open-source version or the commercial distribution, Cassandra’s ability to scale, handle massive datasets, and maintain fault-tolerance makes it an excellent choice for modern data-driven applications.

Want to get more out of your Cassandra database investments? Connect with Datavail’s NoSQL experts today.

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