October 23rd, 2014

You can always tell a great tech event from two things: the Q&A in the sessions, and the side conversations about real-world uses. (A lousy tech event has fancy giveaways and gimmicks and same-as-last-year demos, but that’s another story.) By all the standards I know, Cassandra Summit was a great event.

A lot has changed since open source was just a way to make your company IT environment work better, with high-quality replacements for existing product categories. Today, open source projects such as Cassandra are changing the categories from the user side, something like what Doc Searls was on to back in 2004, when he talked about DIY IT. Instead of just making a more flexible, more cost-effective entry in an existing product category, today’s open source is carving out whole new ones. And the developers are coming from all kinds of companies,
not just cool startups.

And the big win from the new generation of open source? It’s transforming the IT function from just a cost center, the department that doesn’t matter, into a way to build new things. But moving from the old cost center IT to the new IT that moves the top line means we all have to be ruthless in eliminating the old busywork. The software is out there to let the machines do their own routine babysitting, so we had better use it. We were all impressed with how Cassandra handled a recent emergency cloud reboot, and that kind of resiliency is key to how we can make the new generation come together.

Q&A on OSv

We got a lot of great questions at our session on OSv and afterward. OSv is a new OS for VMs in the cloud, with none of the complexities of an old bare-metal OS. No local config files, no permissions, just the basics that you need to run a single Java or POSIX application at maximum speed. Building a complete VM? That’s easy to do on any platform, and only takes only nine seconds out of your day. And, yes, we can bring every JMX management object out to its own REST endpoint with Jolokia. This means that managing the whole virtual appliance–application, JVM, OS–is all in one place, no need to mess around with arcane OS-level tools.

All in all, an OSv virtual machine gives you more Cassandra throughput, along with the all-important benefit of freeing up your time as an IT professional to focus on creating new value, not just keeping the old stuff up. Cassandra is full of great computer science that makes it resilient and scalable. OSv is full of great computer science that gives it high throughput and low overhead on any cloud, public or private. Together, they take a lot of the old, time-consuming work off of your to-do list and free you up to build the new, valuable stuff. It’s never been a better time to be in IT, and I’m not just saying it because of the groovy Cassandra Summit backpack. See you next year.

Down with Tweaking! Removing Tunable Complexity for Cassandra Performance and Administrator

Company: Cloudius Systems

Abstract: The need for performance tuning of the JVM and OS is making administrators the bottleneck for Cassandra deployments–especially in virtual environments. Over the past two years, the OSv project has profiled tuning-sensitive applications with a special focus on Cassandra. Today, many of the important bottlenecks for NoSQL applications are tunable on a conventional OS, but do not require tuning in the OSv environment. OSv gives Cassandra a simpler environment, set up to run one application in a single address space. This talk will cover how to use OSv to improve performance in key areas such as JVM memory allocation and network throughput–without loading up your to-do list with difficult tuning tasks.