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May 22 2019   2:47PM GMT

DataStax CEO Bosworth : accelerating development on (and in) the cloud

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater

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DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth started out as a database administrator (DBA), so one would hope that he knows how to build, compile, manage and deploy in all senses of those terms, right?

Bosworth took the stage to keynote the opening session at his firm’s ‘Accelerate 2019’ data-developer conference and exhibition, which was held in Washington DC this May 2019.

His CEO presentation was formally entitled: accelerating development in a cloud world.

Now then, that sounds like marketing, so why did he use that title?

Perhaps it’s because DataStax’s core drive is all about user choice (by which we mean data-centric developer/programmer system and operations engineer, rather than ‘human’ user  — although the happiness of the latter depends upon the former).

What does technical user choice mean in this sense? It’s all about options such as scale-up and scale-down functionality on Cassandra clusters with consumption-based pricing. So it’s tuning the data delivery model to more sympathetically suit what the use case demands.

Bosworth suggested that developers today face a special challenge because new tools emerge every day. He also said that technology both ‘enables and restrains’ a developer’s ability to accelerate innovation.

Similarly, he has pointed out that operations and IT teams responsible for the deployment, upkeep and support of new applications are simultaneously challenged and supported by new ways to deploy — whether that be on-premises, in the cloud, or using a hybrid approach.

Newer, easier-to-use tools

What all of this drives us towards is the idea that we should be able to get easier-to-use tools that make it faster to develop apps that perform regardless of data location, size, and format — and this is (perhaps) an encapsulation of the mission that DataStax says it is on.

Bosworth is clearly impressed by the scale and performance of Apache Cassandra, but he thinks that the top adjectives that come to mind when using this platform would NOT include ‘easy’ or ‘simple’.

“We want to take the powerful technology that exists in Apache Cassandra and make it easy and better – I might even say fun,” said Bosworth, in his keynote address. “Because companies are having to expand and work in new markets all the time, business is getting even tougher. But even in a world where so many underlying infrastructures are changing at lower levels, one common thread we see across all business models is the move to cloud.”

The DataStax CEO says that his firm’s technology is ideally (okay, he said uniquely) suited cloud environments because it is essentially distributed and has a ‘masterless’ architecture with no single point of failure… but, at the same time, it offers a single toolset to manage cloud and on-premises environments.

Demo: chaos in the clouds

A live demo 18-minutes into a keynote is probably a good indication of any event being a real ground level data-centric developer-centric gathering. Bosworth was joined on stage by Chelsea Navo in her role as global vanguard lead at DataStax.

Navo demo’d DataStax’s technology which is capable of spanning connections to (in the example shown) three major cloud providers. With a massive number of servers are out there, there are millions of points of potential failure… so apps need to be able to withstand a rough ride and rely upon a database that can handle disruptive events happening across the network. If nodes drop out (or whole clouds drop out) from some servers in some cloud, DataStax will provide enough resilience to be able to deal with ‘chaos in the clouds’ and switch to resources that are live and functional.

This all leads towards the need for a new layer of management intelligence for cloud applications… and this is what DataStax is aiming to provide with its new DataStax Constellation announcement.

Constellation will launch later this year with two cloud services: DataStax Apache Cassandra as a Service and DataStax Insights.  DataStax Apache Cassandra as a Service will deliver easy scale-up and scale-down Cassandra clusters, on consumption-based pricing, which is backed by the stability and performance enhancements of DataStax Enterprise.

Follow up presentations subsequent to Bosworth’s CEO address featured an address from Deloitte’s principal for technology services Mark White – and also from Judy Meyer, VP, WW ISV business leader and AI Advocate, Microsoft.

“We know that the world of the developer is changing. I want you to think about the ubiquitous compute power that the cloud gives us… at what is now at zettabytes of data. This means that we need a modern data estate – and this can be done using DataStax running on Microsoft Azure,” said Meyer.

When she talks about data estates, Meyer is referring to data existing on all devices, all computers, all ‘things’ in the Internet of Things, all operational databases, data lakes and all databases themselves.

Core takeaway

There’s certainly a theme coming forward here: if we’re in a world with complexity in the cloud and chaos in the cloud (and perhaps even chaotic cloud complexity) then we need management tools and platform intelligence capable of helping us navigate out of those black holes. Crucially, we need to be able to do that fast and do it without necessarily needing a massive amount of network engineering expertise, because so many more technology practitioners are exposed to the engine rooms of the cloud itself. The sheer scale of the complexity and raw power in cloud has the potential to actually slow us down and encumber IT systems because it’s such a massive (virtual) engine to fuel, run and operate… but it can also accelerate our applications and data services if we use the correct tools — and DataStax wants to be that toolset.

DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth and DataStax global vanguard lead Chelsea Navo.

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