What Is Cassandra? Meaning, Working, Features, and Uses

Cassandra is an open source NoSQL data storage system that leverages a distributed architecture to enable high availability and reliability, managed by the nonprofit Apache. This article explains the features of Cassandra in detail. It also discusses the six main ways it applies in enterprise use cases.

What is

Cassandra? Cassandra

is defined as an open source NoSQL data warehouse system that leverages a distributed architecture to enable high availability, scalability and reliability, managed by the Apache non-profit organization.

Working on an Apache Cassandra project

Working on an Apache Cassandra project | SourceOpens a new window

The modern, hyper-connected world is full of data, and there’s always new information to record and leverage. There is always new data that companies need to process and query through their applications and decision-making processes. But mainly, one must store data; This data storage for business use is known as a database.

A database is an organized collection of stored data that can be located and accessed at will from an electronic device. Beyond storing data, some critical manipulations and operations are carried out on that data from time to time using these systems. This makes it very important to have a database and database management system as well.

A database management system or DBMS is a program that can interact with databases and other software to analyze a particular set of data. Database ecosystems include the database, management system, and associated applications. This helps us better understand Cassandra, as Cassandra is all about data storage and how data is managed.

Cassandra is an open source NoSQL distributed database that manages large amounts of data on commodity servers. It is a decentralized and scalable storage system designed to handle large volumes of data on multiple commodity servers, providing high availability without a single point of failure.

Cassandra was created for Facebook, but was open source and released to become an Apache project (maintained by Americal’s nonprofit, Apache Software Foundation) in 2008. After that, it found top priority in 2010 and is now among the best NoSQL database systems in the world. Cassandra is trusted and used by thousands of businesses due to the ease of expansion and, better yet, its lack of a single point of failure. Currently, the solution has been implemented to handle databases for Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, etc.

More information: What is a data catalog? Definition, examples and best practices

How does

Cassandra work?

Apache Cassandra, a distributed database management system, is designed to manage a large amount of data across multiple cloud data centers. Understanding how Cassandra works means understanding three basic system processes. These are the architectural components on which it is built, its partition system and its replicability.


Cassandra’s primary architecture consists of a group of nodes. Apache Cassandra is structured as a peer-to-peer system and looks a lot like DynamoDB and Google Bigtable.

Each node in Cassandra is equal and has the same level of importance, which is fundamental to Cassandra’s structure. Each node is the exact point where specific data is stored. A group of nodes that are related to each other constitutes a data center. The complete set of data centers capable of storing data for processing is what makes up a cluster.

The beautiful thing about Cassandra’s architecture is that it can be easily expanded to hold more data. By adding more nodes, you can double the amount of data the system carries without overwhelming it. This dynamic scaling capability goes both ways. By reducing the number of nodes, developers can shrink the database system if necessary. Compared to previous Structured Query Language (SQL) databases and the complexity of increasing your data transport capacity, Cassandra’s architecture gives you a considerable advantage.

Another way Cassandra’s architecture helps its functionality is that it increases data security and protects against data loss


2. The

partitioning system

In Cassandra, data is stored and retrieved through a partitioning system. A partitioner is what determines where the primary copy of a dataset is stored. This works with nodal tokens in a straightforward format. Each node owns or is responsible for a set of tokens based on a partition key. The partition key is responsible for determining where the data is stored.

Immediately when data enters a cluster, a hash function is added to the partition key. The coordinator node (the node to which a client connects with a request) is responsible for sending the data to the node with the same token on that partition.

3. The replicability of Cassandra

Another way Cassandra works is by replicating data between nodes. These child nodes are called replica nodes, and the number of replica nodes for a given dataset is based on the replication factor (RF). A replication factor of 3 means that three nodes cover the same range of tokens, storing the same data. Multiple replicas are key to Cassandra’s reliability.

Even when one node goes down, temporarily or permanently, other nodes contain the same data, meaning that data is almost never completely lost. Better yet, if a temporarily disrupted node returns to normal, it receives an update on data actions it may have missed and then catches up to continue operating.

See more: What is data governance? Definition, relevance and best practices

Key features of Cassandra Cassandra

is a unique database system, and some of its key features include:

<img src="https://pimages.toolbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/15150609/Key-Features-of-Cassandra.png" alt="Key features of Cassandra

” /> Key features

of Cassandra

1. Open Source Availability

Nothing is more exciting than getting a hands-on product for free. This is probably one of the important factors behind Cassandra’s far-reaching popularity and acceptance. Cassandra is one of the open source products hosted by Apache and is free for anyone who wants to use it.

Arabic numeral. Another

feature of Cassandra is that it is well distributed and intended to run on multiple nodes rather than a central system. All nodes are equal in importance, and without a master node, no bottleneck slows down the process. This is very important because companies using Cassandra need to constantly run accurate data and cannot tolerate data loss. The equal and wide distribution of Cassandra data among nodes means that the loss of a node does not significantly affect overall system performance.

3. Scalability

Cassandra has elastic scalability. This means that it can be scaled up or down without much difficulty or resistance. Cassandra’s scalability is once again due to the nodal architecture. It is meant to grow horizontally as your needs as a developer or company grow. Expanding in Cassandra is very easy and not limited to location. Adding or removing additional nodes can adjust your database system to meet your dynamic needs.

Another interesting point about scaling in Cassandra is that there is no slowdown, pause or hook in the system during the process. This means that end users would not feel the effect of whatever happened, ensuring a smooth service to everyone connected to the network.

4. Cassandra Query Language

Cassandra is not a relational database and does not use standard query language or SQL. It uses the Cassandra Query Language (CQL). This would have posed a problem for administrators, as they would have to master a completely new language, but the good thing about the Cassandra Query language is that it is very similar to SQL. It is structured to operate with rows and columns, i.e. table-based data.

However, it lacks the flexibility that comes with fixed SQL schema. CQL combines tabular database management system and key value. It operates using the operations of data type, definition operation, data definition operation, trigger operation, security operations, arithmetic operations, etc.

5. Fault tolerance

Cassandra is fault tolerant mainly due to its data replication capability. Data replication denotes the system’s ability to store the same information in multiple locations or nodes. This makes it highly available and fault tolerant in the system. The failure of a single node or data center does not stop the system, as the data has been replicated and stored on other nodes in the cluster. Data replication leads to a high level of backup and recovery.

See more: What is enterprise data management (EDM)? Definition, relevance and best practices

6. Schema free

SQL is a fixed schema database language that makes it rigid and fixed. However, Cassandra is an optional schema data model and allows the operator to create as many rows and columns as deemed necessary.

7. Tunable


Cassandra has two types of consistency: eventual consistency and fit consistency. String consistency is a type that transmits any update or information to each node where the data in question is located. In eventual consistency, the client has to approve immediately after a cluster receives a write.

Cassandra’s tunable consistency is a feature that allows the developer to decide to use either type depending on the function being performed. The developer can use one or both types of consistency at any time.

8. Fast typing

Cassandra is known for having a very high performance, not hindered by its size. Your ability to write quickly is a function of your data handling process. The initial step is to write to the confirmation record. This is for durability to preserve data in case of node damage or downtime. Writing to the confirmation log is a quick and efficient process using this tool.

The next step is to write to the “Memtable” or memory. After writing to Memtable, a node recognizes successful data writing. Memtable is located in database memory, and writing to memory is much faster than writing to disk. All this explains the speed that Cassandra writes.


Cassandra point-to-point architecture is based on a point-to-point architectural model where all nodes are equal. This is different from some database models with a “slave-to-master” relationship. That’s where one unit directs the operation of the other units, and the other unit only communicates with the central or master unit. In Cassandra, different units can communicate with each other as pairs in a process called gossip. This peer-to-peer communication eliminates a single point of failure and is a prominent defining feature of Cassandra.

See more: The 8 Big Data Security Best Practices for 2021

Top 6 Uses

of Cassandra

Cassandra is an open source NoSQL database management system with many advantages and practical functionalities that rival other systems. It is used by several large and small companies around the world. Some of the main applications of Cassandra include:

1. E-commerce

is an extremely sensitive field that spans all regions and countries. The nature of financial markets means anticipated peak hours as well as downtime. For a financial operation, no customer would want to experience downtime or lack of access when there is revenue to be made and many opportunities to hold on to. Ecommerce businesses can avoid these downtimes or potential outages by using a highly reliable system like Cassandra. Its fault tolerance allows it to keep running even if an entire facility is damaged with little or no system problems.

Due to its easy scalability, especially in peak seasons, e-commerce and inventory management are also an important application of Cassandra. When there is a market fever, the company has to increase the capacity of the database to transport and store more data. The rapid seasonal growth of e-commerce that is affordable and does not cause system reboot is simply a perfect fit for businesses.

E-commerce websites also benefit from Cassandra as it stores and records visitor activities. It then allows analytical tools to modulate the visitor’s action and, for example, tempts them to stay on the website.

Arabic numeral. With

the help of Cassandra, movie, game, and music websites can track customer behavior and preferences. The database records for each visitor, including what was clicked, downloaded, time spent, etc. This information is analyzed and used to recommend more entertainment options to the end user.

This Cassandra app is part of the personalization, recommendation, and customer experience use cases. It is not only limited to entertainment sites, but also online shopping platforms and social media recommendations. This is why users would receive notifications of products similar to those they spent time browsing.


Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing

Today’s world is seeing the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). We are constantly bombarded with thousands of new information points or data sets. Every wearable device, weather sensor, traffic sensor, or mobile device tracks and sends data on weather, traffic, energy usage, ground conditions, etc. This avalanche of information can be overwhelming and easily lost.

However, storing and analyzing information from IoT devices, no matter how large, has become much more effective in Cassandra technology. This is due to (but not limited to) the following reasons:


  • allows each individual node to perform read and write operations
  • .

  • It can handle and store a large amount
  • of data.

  • Cassandra supports real-time data analysis.

4. Fraud

detection is essential to the security and reliability of many businesses, primarily banks, insurance, and other financial institutions. At all points, these companies must ensure that they can beat the new and renewed way of stealing data developed by fraudsters. Financial companies aim to keep scammers and hackers away from their systems. Cassandra is applicable here because of continuous, real-time, big data analytics. Cassandra can obtain data through a wide range of internet activities that can trigger alarms when patterns and irregularities that may be preceded by fraud are detected.

On the other hand, these same financial institutions must carry out a smooth identity authentication process. To make the user login authentication process strict enough to allow only genuine clients, but simple enough to make things easier for them, Cassandra helps carry out real-time analysis. In addition to these analyses, Cassandra is also vital because, with her, you can be sure of constant accessibility.

Overall, Cassandra is among the top database choices chosen for fraud detection and authentication processes because:


  • enables real-time analytics with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). It
  • can host large numbers of actively growing datasets
  • .

  • It has a flexible schema to allow the processing of different types of data.

5. There


currently several messaging apps in use, and an increasing number of people are using them. This creates the need for a stable database system to store constantly flowing volumes of information. Cassandra provides stability and storage capacity for companies offering courier services.

6. Logistics

and asset management

Cassandra is used in logistics and asset management to track the movement of any item to be transported. From purchase to final delivery, apps can rely on Cassandra to record every transaction. This is especially applicable to large logistics companies that regularly process large amounts of data. Cassandra had found a robust use case in backend development for such applications. Store and analyze flowing data without impacting application performance.

See more: What is Deepfake? Meaning, types of fraud, examples and best prevention practices for 2022

Cassandra’s powerful features and unique distributed architecture make it a favorite database management tool for independent developers and large enterprises. Some of the world’s largest companies that need high-speed information transmission rely on Cassandra, including social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as media platforms like Netflix.

In addition, Cassandra has been constantly updated since it became open source in 2008. Apache Cassandra version 4.1 is scheduled for release in July 2022, ensuring technical professionals ongoing support and access to cutting-edge features at no additional cost.

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