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Didn't see that coming: DataStax emits open source Kubernetes operator for Cassandra

Although you need to hop in the Management API sidecar for the really good stuff

NoSQL slinger DataStax has released an open source Kubernetes operator for Apache Cassandra as it seeks to cosy back up to the community.

Fresh from snapping up Cassandra consultancy The Last Pickle for an undisclosed amount on 3 March, the veteran NoSQL biz has rounded out the month by opening up the source to its Kubernetes operator, replete with lessons learned from its forever-in-beta hosted Cassandra product, Astra (formerly Apollo.)

Operators are one way to deal with the complexities of Kubernetes, abstracting (at least in theory) the user from the grungy bits of deploying and operating an application behind familiar Kubernetes tooling. Certainly, deploying and managing something like Cassandra in such an environment can be challenging enough without having to dive elbow-deep into the guts of thing.

DataStax is not the only game in town when it comes to a Kubernetes operator, other Cassandra users have contributed the things. However, where many are geared up to the specific needs of a given commercial entity, Chief strategy officer Sam Ramji told The Register that the code released today started from a point of "What would it take to have an operator that works for literally everybody?"

He quickly added the "we're not assuming that this is the one operator to rule them all," but expressed a hope that "maybe six months or a year from now, we end up with a consensus operator that takes the best parts of all."

It is, however, also worth noting that contained with code being shared is also all the lessons learned during the time its hosted service, Astra, has been in preview and been hammered by users. "That's kind of our skin in the game," observed Ramji, "because without practice, theory is kind of bullshit."


Ramji, a veteran of both Google and Microsoft, joined DataStax some months ago in December and followed the appointment of fellow former Google staffer, Chet Kapoor as CEO in October. The arrivals followed a period where Ramji delicately admitted the company had been accused of "bad behaviour", or of being a tad "heavy handed". The new approach is very much one of community engagement. "Open source markets are," according to Ramji, "about abundance, and the community creates that abundance."

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It's an interesting approach, and a little at odds with some other notable NoSQL vendors, who have gone down the path of tinkering with licences in order to protect their revenue stream. DataStax's approach is more down the services path, hence the purchase of The Last Pickle. Decent revenues, according to Ramji, also help when it comes to dispensing the largesse.

Patrick McFadin, responsible for developer relations at DataStax, cited the release of the operator as an example of the change in the "mood music" at DataStax as far as the Cassandra community is concerned and was keen to point out that perhaps obscured behind the Kubernetes excitement was "the real juice" – the Management API sidecar.

Cassandra predates Kubernetes, and managing it is usually done via command line or through the sometimes awkward Java Management Extensions (JMX.) Describing the operators as "the tip of the iceberg", McFadin hoped that other vendors would pick up on the API and provide management tools that were a little less user... unfriendly.

Certainly, DataStax has a little way to go in fully re-engaging with the Cassandra community, but the release of the Kubernetes operator, and the manner of the release, is a step in the right direction. ®

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