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Diego Ferreira

IDAspis – Security & Intelligence with DataStax Enterprise

By Diego FerreiraMarch 3, 2016

DataStax: Hello Antonios, many thanks for the opportunity of this interview. Could you please tell us a bit about IDAspis, what exactly you offer and your role there?
IDAspis: Let me start by stating that it is my pleasure to be in this interview. I am Antonios Chariton and I am the CEO of IDAspis. We are a security and intelligence startup based in Hannover, Germany. We provide security consulting and intelligence services to our customers. Our main product collects and analyzes several data sources over the entire Internet and provides information to companies and organizations in order to defend their assets.

DataStax: Did you use a different technology before you started using Cassandra?
IDAspis: Before using Cassandra, we naively chose a Relational Database like MySQL and Postgres with clustering features, in hopes it would be able to accommodate the volume of data we throw at it, the near real time queries we needed to run, as well as provide high availability to prevent downtime.

DataStax: Why did you decide to use Cassandra? What kind of data is stored there?
IDAspis: After using a relational database, we soon ran into trouble with query response times as well as availability issues. We investigated the NoSQL market and determined that Cassandra is the most powerful and mature technology to run our main database, since it provides almost constant time for all queries and provides exceptional high availability features that few competitors can match. We use Cassandra for all our database needs and store all data we collect from our sensors, indefinitely. We wouldn’t be able to do that with most, if not all, other databases.

DataStax: How would you sum up the benefits you’ve achieved with DataStax Enterprise (DSE)?
IDAspis: Cassandra is an amazing database and few could come close to what it provides in terms of scalability, performance and redundancy. However, since it is a simple key-value storage system, it lacks features such as DSE Search, which makes accessing data much faster, OpsCenter, which makes cluster management significantly easier, and of course Security, which helps an organization make more use out of Cassandra in a distributed environment. DataStax Enterprise is a powerful platform and collection of tools that work seamlessly together in order to make the transition to Apache Cassandra significantly easier. It provides a stable, production ready environment that is easily manageable and can scale up and down with little to no effort.

DataStax: What caused you to use DSE over open source Cassandra?
IDAspis: Due to the nature of our company, we take security seriously at IDAspis. DataStax Enterprise provides more security features, more stable and patched versions than the Open Source Cassandra, as well as provides a visual administration tool, OpsCenter, that significantly helps in ensuring everything is secure and up to date.

DataStax: What features from the DataStax Enterprise (DSE) stack are you using at the moment? What business use case do they fulfill?
IDAspis: Currently we are using Certified Cassandra, a more production ready version of the Open Source Cassandra as our main database for storage of all the collected information. We’re also using the Security features as we find them really helpful in managing permissions and authentication across our system. OpsCenter is another critical tool available that allows easy management of our database clusters as well as provides a simple checklist of best practices both in terms of performance and security to follow, notifying us every time something is off.

In terms of business use case, IDAspis uses Cassandra as the primary database for all projects. It stores web application information such as usernames, etc. and also collects intelligence information, which can include time-series data of recorded events from a network of sensors worldwide, information about domain names and IP addresses and in general anything that is used to provide our services. The largest amount of data stored is time-series data which thanks to Cassandra, its performance and features, can be retained indefinitely with relatively low cost.

DataStax: Tell us about the future of your project, do you intend to leverage other parts of DSE to make it a reality?
IDAspis: Currently we have specifically modified our collectors to utilize the most out of Certified Cassandra. However, some particular datasets require a combination of products in order to be effectively processed in a near real time manner. For this reason, we are working with DataStax Enterprise Search, which provides this ability with almost no effort on our side.

DataStax: What advice would you give to other startups that are thinking about using Cassandra for the first time in their solutions?
IDAspis: Apache Cassandra is an incredible database to work with as soon as you get familiar with its features. It may seem a little bit difficult to get started, or port parts of your codebase, and it may seem too expensive in some cases, but in the end, it’s the best way to scale to hundreds of thousands of queries per second and 100% availability. In our case, the initial difficulties we faced seem to have been well worth it as we now wonder why other products and services aren’t using it too.




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