May 28th, 2013



Ben Bromhead: CEO at Instaclustr

Matt Pfeil: Co-Founder at DataStax


Matt: Hi, my name is Matt Pfeil and I’m here today with Ben Bromhead. He is the CEO and founder of Instaclustr. Ben, why don’t you tell me a little about what Instaclustr does?


Ben: Instaclustr supplies managed Cassandra hosting in the cloud, so we take care of running and managing your Cassandra cluster via the following services: deploying, scaling, monitoring, performance tuning, backup, and we also provide awesome support.


Matt: That’s great. Tell me a little bit more about who should use your technology, and more detail around your infrastructure in particular.


Ben: The only cloud provider that we currently support is AWS (Amazon Web Services). We do things a little bit differently from most other managed hosting providers. Specifically, we provision the Cassandra cluster under your own AWS account. What this means is that you get full visibility and maintain full ownership of your data, with us operating on your behalf to help manage your cluster.


We’re actually seeing a number of small businesses that are dealing with big data problems but don’t want to be burdened with the overhead of actually running a full-blown cluster; we’re finding that these business’ want to start with something that’s scalable. Because they’ve large volumes of data or they predict that they’ll have high volumes over time, they want to work with a technology that is appropriate, in the operational and financial sense, but don’t want to deal with the overhead of managing a Cassandra process.


We’re seeing a number of advertising analytics companies coming on board, looking to leverage the power of Cassandra without actually having to dedicate a person to managing it.


Matt: What originally drew your interest to the Cassandra community?


Ben: We were originally working on a separate project and, within that project, one of the problems we ran into is storing a number of large disparate datasets; we went out and had a look at a lot of open source and proprietary solutions that would solve this problem. One of the technologies we came across was obviously Cassandra and we found this solution to be able to appropriately solve our problem.  In addition, the community itself was quite active and positive; that kind of thing is something that we really liked.


A lot of these large distributed key values stores have only been around for five years or a little bit longer and Cassandra’s active community was critical in making Cassandra what it is today; it’s truly become a mature platform. We looked around for someone who provides Cassandra hosting services, so we didn’t have to worry too much about maintenance, but there wasn’t really anyone out there and this provoked us to build our own solution. One day we woke up and thought: “Hey, this is kind of cool.”  We reckoned a number of people could actually get a lot of use out of what we’ve built and from the knowledge that we’ve gained. And that’s how Instaclustr was born.


Matt: That’s great. That’s a really interesting history. What’s your pricing model and is there a free offering?


Ben: Currently our pricing is very much aligned with Amazon web services. We bill per hour, per node, and a node is deployed on a single EC2 instance of your choosing in terms of power, capacity, etc. We also provide a free offering; there’s no cost associated with this offering other than just the Amazon Web Services infrastructure cost. You get full range of monitoring, backup, performance tuning, that kind of thing on our free offering. It’s actually a pretty good service for people who are just looking to get started but want to begin developing their application and use it in their development environment.


Matt: That makes a lot of sense, it’s important for somebody to focus purely on developing the product as opposed to operating it; I really understand what you’re saying.


Ben: Yes, definitely. From what we’re hearing at the moment, people are loving it, which is awesome to hear.


Matt: That’s awesome. That sounds like a really good offering. How would someone sign up?


Ben: It’s pretty easy actually. They just go to Hit sign up, provide your AWS credentials, and then you’re ready to start a cluster. The whole process takes just under five minutes to get up-and-running.


Matt: Five minutes to get going… that sounds like a dream scenario for everyone. I’ll just say, speaking from my experience with the Cassandra community, anytime you can let a user purely focus on the development of their application around all the power that Cassandra brings to the equation, and not worry one bit about operations, that is definitely something that is a strong benefit. I strongly encourage anyone that is getting started to check out Instaclustr, and if you have any questions, there will be information at the end of this article on how to contact Ben and seek that information. And Ben, thank you very much for your time today, as well as this offer you present to the community.


Ben: Thanks a lot Matt.