Open source is hard, right?
DataStax was among the Apache Cassandra specialists wobbled by AWS’s decision to offer a managed service of the open source distributed database earlier this month.
Now the Santa Clara-headquartered is taking the fight back with an unusual new strategy: low cost support for the open source iteration of Cassandra, on top of existing support for its own bells-and-whistled DataStax Enterprise distribution.
The move is the first major strategic shift by the company under new CEO Chet Kapoor (previously with Google) who replaced Billy Bosworth at the helm in October.
“DataStax is the logical choice to offer this service… as the largest contributor to open source Cassandra” the company said, announcing the service today.
The offering is being dubbed DataStax Luna and boils down to a subscription-based support service for open source Apache Cassandra, starting at a modest $40/node per month under a basic plan and $50/node per month under an enterprise plan.
“We have a large number of Cassandra nodes running a variety of applications critical to our business,” said Rune Birkemose Jakobsen, a development manager at Scandinavian fintech MobilePay. “Some are DataStax and others are open source.”
He added: “We welcome DataStax support and expertise across all our Cassandra deployments and are excited about today’s new service.”
Open Source Cassandra Support
Cassandra is an open source project that was originally born at Facebook. It is a distributed database for managing large amounts of structured data across many commodity servers, with high availability and no single point of failure. According to DB-Engines, Cassandra is used by 40 percent of the Fortune 100.
DataStax, like many companies trying to turn a profit by offering managed open source services, faces a growing threat from cloud hyperscalers who argue that open source-specific companies’ software distributions are too complex to use and if customers want to buy support, they would rather just bundle the service into a broader cloud package.
By offering low cost open source support, DataStax clearly sees an opportunity for those reluctant to buy that argument, whether for fear of vendor lock-in, excessive cost, or just out of a preference to build in-house skills. Its DataStax Luna service is available today via a self-service website. Both tiers include a yearly subscription, and free Cassandra education with access to community forums, events and more.
As DataStax notes, orrganizations are finding that running open source projects for important applications without professional support is a significant risk.
Research and advisory firm Gartner recommends that “data and analytics leaders concerned with modernizing their data management solutions and strategy should: model all costs — including development and maintenance, data and application movement, training, parallel operations, and licensing.”
“Always purchase commercial support for production implementations,”it urges in its report State of the Open-Source DBMS Market, 2019.
With low cost support for the freely available open source Cassandra iteration, DataStax is no doubt hoping that users can be wooed into buying into a more robust distribution and support it offers with enhanced security and other tools baked in.