The cadre of volunteer developers behind the Cassandra distributed database have released the latest version of their open source software, able to hold up to 2 billion columns per row.
An open source database capable of holding such lengthy rows could be most useful to big data cloud computing projects and large-scale Web applications, the developers behind the Apache Software Foundation project assert.
“Apache Cassandra is a key component in cloud computing and other applications that deal with massive amounts of data and high query volumes,” said Jonathan Ellis, vice president of Apache Cassandra and a co-founder of Cassandra professional support company Riptano, in a statement. “It is particularly successful in powering large web sites with sharp growth rates.”
A number of large Web services have used this database, including Digg, Twitter and Facebook, which first developed the technology. The largest Cassandra cluster runs on over 400 servers, according to the project.
The ability to create so many columns is valuable because it allows systems to create a nearly unlimited number of columns on the fly, Ellis explained in a follow-up e-mail.
Other new features of 0.7 include the addition of secondary indexes — which provides an easy way to query data on local machines — and the ability to make changes to the schema without restarting the entire cluster.
Cassandra is one of a number of non-relational, or NoSQL, databases that offer the ability to quickly and easily store vast amounts of data, often in a clustered environment,
The limit of Big Table was that it was a master-node-oriented design, Ellis said in an interview with the IDG News Service during the ApacheCon conference last November in Atlanta. The whole operation depended on a single node to coordinate read and write activities across all the other nodes. In other words, if the head node went down, the whole system would be useless, Ellis said.
Cassandra is not the only clustered database built from the ideas of Big Table and Dynamo. Database startup company Cloudant developed a clustered version of the open source database CouchDB using this combination, called BigCouch. Cloudant just announced that it has amassed 2,500 users of its the hosted offering of BigCouch.