It's not 'Door to Heaven', it's 'Stargate': DataStax reaches out to front-end devs with support for GraphQL

Open-source API framework aims to make Cassandra a bit easier


DataStax, chief commercial cheerleader of Cassandra, has released an open-source API framework for data aimed at easing developer access to the NoSQL columnar database.

Generally available now, the tool dubbed Stargate is available on GitHub for free, but DataStax only supports it on the DBaaS called Astra.

DataStax said developers could use their choice of REST API, GraphQL API, or schemaless Document API to access data.

Ed Anuff, DataStax chief product officer, told The Register the idea was to appeal to a broader spectrum of developers.

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"Cassandra… has always been a super powerful database but it was a little challenging to run. We really felt was important was to go and make it much more attractive to developers," he said.

"JavaScript or Python developers want easy APIs that work well with the frameworks they're using, such as [JavaScript framework] React or [web development architecture] Jamstack. They want to go and interact with their database and Cassandra didn't have that until now. In the past, it was a great database if you had huge amounts of data, but you had to do a bunch of work to use it."

GraphQL allows for greater flexibility with requests that are more like database queries. One query can be constructed to fetch data from multiple endpoints so you get all the data you need at once.

Anuff said that without it, developers had to make "a whole bunch of API calls" to fetch data. By supporting GraphQL in Stargate, DataStax hopes to improve developer productivity and reduce businesses' reliance on a Cassandra expert to build connectivity from the front end to the database.

Contributors to the Stargate project include restaurant review app Yelp. In a pre-canned statement, engineering manager Sirisha Vanteru said the company relied heavily on Cassandra to handle big workloads. "The ability to abstract Cassandra-specific concepts entirely from app developers and support different API options – like REST, GraphQL and gRPC – will go a long way in removing barriers of entry for new software developers at Yelp."

Carl Olofson, IDC research vice president for data management software, said Stargate's features were designed to appeal to those looking to build microservices-architected applications based on RESTful APIs, running on Kubernetes-governed containers.

"It will certainly have appeal in that area, but among 'front end developers' who may be more concerned simply with getting something together and out there, the core needs to be, as always, performance and ease of use," he said.

"It looks like it has all the features needed to make developers' lives easier, but those features must be deployed correctly."

Stargate is among the features released by DataStax to make Cassandra easier to manage and deploy. To this end, it has released an open-source Kubernetes operator, a distribution designed specifically for Kubernetes to support stateful workloads.

"The database business has always been very competitive, but with the advent of multi-model functionality, it has gotten downright cutthroat," Olofson said. "So, is Cassandra maturing as an enterprise database? I think that DataStax has come to the conclusion that it's mature or die." ®


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