CW Developer Network

May 22 2019   12:54PM GMT

DataStax stacks data – but what is a data stack?

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater

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The Computer Weekly Developer Network team is at DataStax Accelerate.

DataStax is a provider of a hybrid cloud database built on Apache Cassandra.

DataStax has built a set of technologies designed to provide an always-on distributed hybrid cloud database for real-time applications at scale… built on Cassandra.

But let’s go back to basics:

Q. Why is DataStax called DataStax?

A. Because data comes in stacks.

Q. What is a data stack?

A. Okay good, we’re glad you asked, let’s have a reminder.

Data comes in many shapes and forms (obviously), but two of its core ‘structures’ are stacks and queues.

Data elements in a stack and a queue differ by virtue of their order.

TechTarget’s own definition here states the following, “In programming, a stack is a data area or buffer used for storing requests that need to be handled. The IBM Dictionary of Computing says that a stack is always a push-down list, meaning that as new requests come in, they push down the old ones. Another way of looking at a push-down list – or stack – is that the program always takes its next item to handle from the top of the stack. (This is unlike other arrangements such as ‘FIFO’ or first-in first-out.)”

So we know that with a data stack, the last (i.e. oldest) element added to the stack is the first one to be removed for use (processing, deeper storage or perhaps to be used in some data analytics function)… so as data elements get added to the stack, the elements on top leave first – and this of course makes it a LIFO last-in-first-out model.

In a data queue, it’s a case of FIFO.

Data elements added to the top of a queue are the first to leave it… almost like a stack of fresh pancakes where you always take the freshest one first.

DataStax stacks

This basic historical definition is perhaps part of the reason why companies like DataStax now exist i.e. remember how DataStax wants to provide us more powerful access data layers? Think about a layer that scales across massively distributed systems and becomes this beautifully woven data fabric that we can all cloak ourselves in.

To be more intelligent than ‘just’ queues and stacks, DataStax treats data nodes as distinct marker points and makes use of technologies including ‘partition keys’ to more intelligently manage our access to data.

The fact that DataStax has stacks in its name is nice, it’s purist and it’s respectful… but we’re diving into a much more complex world than plain old stacks and queues in the contemporary world of cloud… pass me a pancake.

Image credit: DataStax

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