DataStax CEO: Open source databases onslaught for Oracle

Netflix, Openwave Messaging and Ooyala have migrated from Oracle to an enterprise edition of Apache Cassandra. DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth argues more companies and developers will follow.

Enterprises are increasingly moving to open source database to cut their dependence on Oracle, Apache Cassandra has a strong community resistant to fracturing and business leaders are calling the tech shots at first over CIOs.


Those are some of the key takeaways from my chat with DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth. Bosworth, a former Oracle database admin and executive at Quest Software, has been pushing an enterprise version of the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database platform. Like other NoSQL flavors and PostgreSQL, open source databases are beginning to be seen as Oracle replacements to some degree. These open source databases are being melded with Hadoop and big data projects.

To drive the enterprise migration point home, DataStax outlined in a press release that Netflix, Openwave Messaging and Ooyala have migrated from Oracle's relational database to its distribution of Apache Cassandra NoSQL.

Bosworth said that those three customers came out with their migration tales to outline case studies as well as encourage Oracle database developers to look at Cassandra. Netflix said it moved to Cassandra because Oracle created a single point of failure and didn't work as well in the cloud and distributed data models. Overall, Netflix now stores 95 percent of its data in Cassandra.

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As for Openwave Messaging, Cassandra gave the company's messaging software more availability and disaster recovery after Japan's earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Ooyala started with MySQL from Oracle and migrated to DataStacks' Cassandra database to scale better.

Bosworth said the Cassandra use cases are notable because migrating from Oracle can be awkward for customers. "Customers don't want to badmouth Oracle, but the migrations are becoming real," said Bosworth. "Relational databases are not designed for speed and the new interactions with customers. And Oracle's price tag isn't going away."

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DataStax has more than 300 customers and 20 of the Fortune 100. DataStax integrates Cassandra, Apache Hadoop and Solr in an enterprise package. Other key items from my chat with Bosworth:

  • The company is expanding in Europe. What's the adoption curve there? Bosworth said that Europe is typically 12 months to 18 months behind the U.S. in technology adoption. For Cassandra, Europe "is just a couple of months behind."
  • What apps are going Cassandra? Bosworth said online apps and anything that has to have high availability and scalability are looking at Cassandra and NoSQL.
  • Who is making the Cassandra call? Bosworth said that DataStax is increasingly talking to lines of business leaders. "The lines of businesses are developing new app and in many cases Oracle can't do it cost effectively," said Bosworth. CIOs are brought into the Cassandra conversation later since they have to support the database and NoSQL infrastructure. DataStax typically starts talking about Cassandra with general managers for a business and then C-level execs come into the conversation. "The business and CIO come to the conclusion that the move makes sense," said Bosworth. "If the business can't do it, the CIO can’t do it and the financial side needs an escape hatch."
  • Can Cassandra be fractured? In my chat with Bosworth, I asked him whether Oracle could do its own distribution. After all, Hadoop distributions have proliferated. Bosworth said that Cassandra "is a well run community" and hasn't shown any worrisome signs of fracturing.
  • Will CQL (Cassandra Query Language) attract developers? DataStacks and the Cassandra community are pushing CQL, a programming language designed to make it easy for developers to hop from SQL. "We want the Oracle developer audience to know that CQL isn't scary," said Bosworth.
  • Is Cassandra enterprise ready? Bosworth acknowledged that Cassandra had some gaps that needed to be addressed. Those needs such as authentication and encryption have been addressed and released to Apache. More enterprise friendly updates are being rolled into the DataStax distribution.
  • Can Cassandra, noSQL and open source really make a big dent in Oracle's database business? Bosworth said he thinks that Oracle has a classic innovator's dilemma with its database business. On the app and cloud side of the equation, Oracle can acquire into those markets. Databases and open source are different animals. "Database to Oracle is what Windows is to Microsoft," said Bosworth. "Oracle has an onslaught of change ahead."