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What on earth are people using Cassandra for anyway?

What on earth are people using Cassandra for anyway?

On the community team at DataStax we spend a lot of time talking to, and hearing from, companies that are using Apache Cassandra in production. While sizing any community is a somewhat inexact science, there are at least 3,000 companies that we know of using Cassandra in production. Over the past few months we have been digging into the applications that sit upon Cassandra, and a fascinating pattern emerges. More than 80% of the use cases fit into just five classifications of application:

  1. Product Catalog/Playlist

  2. Recommendation/Personalization Engine

  3. Sensor Data/Internet of Things

  4. Messaging

  5. Fraud Detection

Let's take a brief look at each use case and a couple of examples for each:

- Product Catalog/Playlist: Whether you are browsing an article on AOL., or queuing up your Spotify playlist to go out for your morning jog, you are using an application built on top of Apache Cassandra. Cassandra is a great fit for this use case due to its high availability across multiple data centers and its ability to scale predictably.

- Recommendation/Personalization Engine: Without these types of systems how on earth would we know what events to buy tickets to, or what other articles we might find interesting? Eventbrite now uses Cassandra instead of MySQL to power their mobile experience, letting users know what events are happening around them that they will be interested in attending. Eventbrite chose Cassandra for its read/write capacity and ease of deployment. Outbrain, a company you use frequently, but may be unfamiliar with, uses Cassandra to power their content discovery platform, helping companies add revenue streams by serving up applicable third-party articles you may find interesting. One of my favorite Cassandra quotes of all time comes from Outbrain just after Hurricane Sandy: “During Hurricane Sandy, we lost an entire data center. Completely. Lost. It. Our application fail-over resulted in us losing just a few moments of serving requests for a particular region of the country, but our data in Cassandra never went offline."

- Sensor Data/Internet of Things: A buzz-worthy space at the moment to be sure. You can't go a day without reading a headline about how the internet of things is transforming the world. Well the internet of things needs a “database of things", and due to its ability to handle high velocity time series data, Cassandra is a great choice. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), owners of the world's most environmentally friendly building, use Cassandra to store sensor data, and analyze it to provide ways to save water and energy, while the world's smartest thermostat sits on top of Cassandra and learns about your energy usage patterns, and automatically adjusts settings, even when you aren't there to program it.

- Messaging: I have yet to get my hands on Comcast's new X1 platform, but one of the things I am excited about is its messaging capabilities. I love sports, and the ability to track games that I interest me and get alerts through my television while I am watching something else will really turn me into that weekend couch potato.

- Fraud Detection: Another headline grabber; security threats are rising, and it seems that companies are playing catch-up on their smart fraud detection capabilities. Fraud detection capabilities get smarter with access to more and more data to find anomalies in the data patterns. Internet Identity uses Apache Cassandra to provide defensive and preventative measures for their customers to ensure their online properties are not compromised and stolen.

So that's a quick intro into the fantastic five use cases for Apache Cassandra. Want to read more? Check out the functional use cases and other Cassandra stories on Planet Cassandra.


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