April 25th, 2013

Don Ledford | CTO & Co-Founder of Workware Systems


Planet Cassandra: So Don, what’s Workware Systems all about?


Don: We produce intelligence collection and management systems, which sounds a little broad, but essentially we center on investigative case management and serve markets like government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and other public organizations, as well as private enterprises.


Planet Cassandra: What kind of infrastructure and development environment do you have?


Don: Our applications are all web-based. We use Linux for our servers, and Java as the primary development language. We use Hector to connect to Cassandra.


Planet Cassandra: What caused you to go with Cassandra for your data store?


Don: We started working with relational databases, and began building things primarily with PostgreSQL at first.  But dealing with the kind of data that we do, the data model just wasn’t appropriate. We started with Cassandra in the beginning to solve one problem: we needed to persist large vector data that was updated frequently from many different sources. RDBMS’s just don’t do that very well, and the performance is really terrible for fast read operations. By contrast, Cassandra stores that type of data exceptionally well and the performance is fantastic. We went on from there and just decided to store everything in Cassandra.


Planet Cassandra: Why did you choose Cassandra over some of the other NoSQL options?


Don: There were two primary reasons. First, the data model allowed us to have very effective large vector handling. And second, the Cassandra community is vast, vibrant and extremely helpful; everyone is very responsive whereas other communities weren’t even close in that regard.


Planet Cassandra: What’s the typical configuration and data volume that you guys deal with?


Don: A normal setup for our customers is a couple of web servers, a 3-node Cassandra cluster, with a replication factor of 3, and a total data volume of around 12 terabytes.  That usually serves an organization like a police department with several thousand concurrent users very well. There are some larger law enforcement agencies that we’re beginning to work with that will necessitate a multi-data center setup for disaster recovery purposes.


Planet Cassandra: What kind of performance are you seeing with Cassandra?


Don: For a general million-plus set of objects and unstructured documents we see near instantaneous response time for reads and searches, which is great.


Planet Cassandra: Don – thanks for the time!


Don: You bet.


For more information on Workware Systems Inc., visit: http://workwaresystems.com