September 5th, 2013

By 

 

 

Matthias Pfau: Co-Founder and CEO at Tutao

 

What does Tutao do?

Tutao is developing Tutanota, the world’s first secure mail application for communicating securely with anyone. This works without additional efforts, even if the recipient does not use our system.

 

How are you using Apache Cassandra?

We use Cassandra for storing all important data besides blobs. An interesting aspect of Tutanota is it’s built-in end-to-end-encryption. As we encrypt and decrypt everthing on the clients, Cassandra only stores the encrypted binary data. This leads to a lot of challenges, such as indexing.

 

What was the motivation for using Cassandra and what other technologies was it evaluated against?

We are a young startup and always try to find solutions that are simple and scale well. Cassandra was the perfect match because there is no single point of failure and, from an architectural point of view, all nodes are basically the same; this is one of the important aspects that sets Cassandra apart from HBase and which made the decision to chosose Cassandra a no-brainer.

 

Can you share some insight on what your deployment looks like?

Cassandra is running on our own servers in a german data center. This is especially important for us as most customers do not want to store their data outside of Europe. They care about the protection of their data and the data of their customers and are therefore afraid of the patriot act.

 

Our initial deployment uses four nodes in two separate datacenters. The nodes run on spinnings disks and have a capacity of around 50 TB per node. However, only a small portion of this is used for Cassandra, the rest is for our blob storage.

 

Besides that, we did some testing on AWS but were not happy with the performance and pricing in comparison to our systems.

 

Excellent and what’s your favorite part about using Apache Cassandra?

We especially like Cassandra’s built-in replication mechanisms, performance and simplicity.

 

What would you like to see out of Apache Cassandra in future versions?

Many features that are really important for us have made it into previous releases. However, we are really looking forward to:

 • Lightweight Transactions

 • Triggers

 • More efficient repairs / compactions (that ideally allow us to store tens of petabytes on a single node).

 

Do you have any experience with the Apache Cassandra community?

One of the strongest sellings points for Cassandra is it’s great community, the very good codebase and the professional core development team.

 

Matthias, thanks so much for joining us today. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we close out here?

I hope that we have some interesting insights into why we decided to use Cassandra and are still very happy with this decision. Please make sure to check out www.tutanota.com and register for our upcoming beta in November 2013.