DataStax, HP Bring Cassandra to Moonshot Servers

Partnership aims at solving space and power problems associated with growing need for storing "rich data"

Jason Verge

April 14, 2015

3 Min Read
DataStax, HP Bring Cassandra to Moonshot Servers
HP became the first vendor to bring an ARM-powered server to market in September. Its Moonshot server chassis is pictured. It fits 45 ARM SoC cartridges (Photo: HP)

Database player DataStax has partnered with HP to bring Apache Cassandra to HP's low-power Moonshot servers in a joint enterprise database management solution focused on efficiency and scale.

DataStax provides enterprise implementations of Cassandra, targeting the Fortune 2000 and touting about one-third of the Fortune 100 as customers.

HP Moonshot servers consume very little power, making for a dense, energy-efficient package. The company also recently released its first batch of 64-bit ARM servers.

As more and more projects embrace rich data, there needs to be a cost efficient way to store it, said Matt Pfeil, co-founder and chief customer officer at DataStax. “You used to scale using high-end hardware, which wasn’t cost efficient," he said. "Commodity hardware made it economically feasible to store unlimited data for the first time."

However, the problem with commodity servers involves space and power constraints. Moonshot, which Pfeil calles the "next evolution," overcomes these challenges and at a better Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Cassandra's NoSQL database was specifically designed to scale out on many small servers. It uses a peer-to-peer based architecture, with many acting as one. “It makes scaling very easy, and the architecture is unique to Cassandra,” said Pfeil. Cassandra’s competitors use a master slave relationship, which makes it more difficult to configure hardware on machines that use less power.

One example of Cassandra’s unique scale out ability was DataStax’s demonstration of Cassandra on hobbyist favorite Raspberry Pis.

DataStax and HP already have many joint customers. “Over the years, the workhorse for them has been either the HP DL360 or DL380,” said Pfeil. “We have a history through joint customers and working on best practices. We started talking to their Moonshot guys because we knew we had a database that worked with this kind of hardware.”

He continued, “We found that there’s a TCO improvement of 66 percent compared to DL 360 and 380. This is in addition to 75 percent less space and 90 percent less power.”

Operations per second increased by 1.7x over traditional rack mount infrastructure and a business can easily deploy additional HP Moonshot servers as needs grow.

The first reference customer is SpringCM, a hosted contract management provider that provides document automation and workflow. In contract management, every little change is an event, and customers need to be able to look at a history of revisions. SpringCM provides these needs, handling 4-5 million transactions a day.

"We've been doing a lot of expansion in terms of our entire footprint and cloud platform, and moving a lot to Cassandra," said SpringCM Vice President of Operations Chris King.

The company decided to move from 6 HP DL360s to 12 much smaller Moonshot servers. After due diligence and a few months of running Moonshot in parallel to the production load, they're switching production over to Moonshot this week.

"It's a new way of looking at servers," said King. "Just in power savings alone, it pays for itself." King said Moonshot means storing more data in a rack while using less power in addition to being easier to manage and scale with growth.

Despite interest in low-power servers, adoption has been slower than anticipated within the data center. King believes this is because either people don't know about Moonshot or they're still testing it in a sandbox.

Many are in “wait-and-see” mode when it comes Moonshot. However, the product's promise is huge.

DataStax has raised $190 million in funding in its five years of existence and touts over 500 customers across more than 55 countries.

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