Five Signs You Have Outgrown Cassandra (and What to Do About It)

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Brian Bulkowski
Aerospike Founder and CTO
September 1, 2016|5 min read

Five Signs You Have Outgrown Cassandra (Aerospike vs Cassandra)

Cassandra is a well-known NoSQL database, maintained under the Apache Foundation and commercialized by a number of companies. While it’s easy for organizations such as yours to start with Cassandra, you find yourself (or soon will be) facing increasingly large costs and complexity of day-to-day operations as your application load grows.

This impacts not only your Line of Business (LOB) budget, but also your operational stability, and further, your customer experience. Your Cassandra infrastructure hampers your organization’s ability to be agile, to compete, and to bring new products and services to market. Aerospike, the leading enterprise-grade NoSQL database, can save you 5x or more in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) while providing proven, unparalleled uptime and availability. Aerospike is used in production and trusted by industry-leading organizations for their mission-critical applications.

Five Signs

What are the five signs that your company may have outgrown Cassandra?

  1. Your Cassandra Clusters Are Growing at an Unexpected Rate & You’re Worried about TCO

    • Is your growth in data volume or access patterns driving ever-larger clusters (30 nodes or more)?

    • Can your budget accommodate the resulting cost increases?

    • Does TCO concern you? Do you need to stretch your IT budget further?

  2. Peak Loads Are Causing Service Disruptions

    • Are you missing application SLAs? Is this impacting your bottom line?

    • Are you provisioning more hardware or caches to meet your SLAs?

  3. You’ve Learned to Live with Cascading Failures

    • Are you experiencing memory pressure or other computing resource pressures?

    • Are you fighting compactions?

  4. Your Operations Team Is Growing Disproportionately & The Cost of Support Is Concerning

    • Are you fighting garbage collection, tombstones, and JVM tuning?

    • Do you have to re-tune for each workload or hardware refresh?

  5. Hiring Dedicated Cassandra Experts Has Become Unavoidable and Difficult

    • Can you find people with the right skills and experience to operate your clusters?

    • Can you find people capable of committing changes back to Apache?

    • Can you find people who truly understand data modeling in Cassandra?

Why Aerospike

Founded in 2009, Aerospike has diligently focused on building a mission-critical, highly available, distributed, and record-oriented key-value NoSQL database. Aerospike powers the AdTech industry; its customers include AdForm, Applovin, AppNexus, InMobi, Rubicon Project, Trade Desk, and many others. Aerospike also drives innovation in a number of other sectors, including Telecommunications (with Nokia, HP Enterprise, Airtel, NTT, and Viettel), Financial Services, Gaming (with DraftKings, Playtika, and SBTech), and eCommerce (with Williams-Sonoma and Kayak).

Aerospike believes in three core principles:

  1. Being built for modern computing architectures, and ready for the next generation of hardware

  2. Master-based clustering, which means simple scaling and failover

  3. Simple Developer Experience (DX)

Designed and built to exploit the characteristics of Flash/SSD and poised to take advantage of storage class memory, Aerospike provides unprecedented value to its customers. Our technology is driving fundamental changes in how people think about, store, and access their data; it’s the key ingredient for building rich, engaging applications and services. Aerospike is driving digital transformation across many industries by enabling our customers to build relevant systems of engagement; this includes better recommendation engines in retail and marketing, fraud prevention in payment processing and cybercrime detection, and billing and service enablement in telecommunications. Aerospike’s combination of extraordinary uptime, high availability, and consistent performance all but eliminates service disruptions for your customers.

Fundamental Attribute Differences of Aerospike vs. Cassandra




Scaling up before scaling out

Server count reduction

Total Cost of Ownership

Data volume & usage drive larger clusters

Server sprawl

Significant cost growth

Predictable, consistent, low-variance performance


Missed application SLAs

Provisioning more hardware and caches to meet SLAs

99999+ uptime (five 9’s)


Experiencing memory pressure or other computing resource pressures

Fighting compactions

Setup and forget


Can’t find dedicated Cassandra skills

Can’t justify Apache committers

Simple to grow clusters online

Simple to perform rolling upgrades

Operational Usage

Fighting garbage collection, tombstones and JVM tuning

Re-tuning for new workloads or hardware

Advance planning required to grow clusters

Aerospike vs. Cassandra – Total Cost of Ownership

Aerospike’s customers are able to take full advantage of the cost savings created by our architectural advantages, typically measured at 5x or more. The table below shows the cost advantage of an Aerospike solution, based on actual customer data:


Table 1. Cost Comparison, Aerospike vs. Cassandra

Table 1 represents a composite of multiple Cassandra replacements derived from actual customer implementations. The table depicts a 3-year TCO comparison – for exactly the same problem set – using a Cassandra solution vs. an Aerospike solution. To generate this table, we first estimated the size of the Cassandra cluster required; we then estimated the size of the required Aerospike cluster under the same assumptions. The existing Cassandra clusters used HDDs, while the Aerospike cluster was sized to use SSDs. Despite the cost difference between both drive types (SSDs cost more), the customers’ cumulative TCO savings using an Aerospike solution are very clear and real. If our customers have been able to save so much with us, how much could Aerospike save you?

How Aerospike Can Help

Aerospike is the next-generation, enterprise-grade NoSQL solution. Aerospike has a fundamentally unique architecture that has helped customers like Applovin, ShareThis, AdForm, InMobi, PubMatic, and NexTag cost-effectively convert significant applications from Cassandra to Aerospike. Converting to Aerospike has allowed these organizations to achieve more predictable performance, improve uptime and availability, and significantly decrease TCO.

Our recent YCSB benchmark goes into great detail on the performance gains of an Aerospike solution. If you’re concerned about your Cassandra implementation, contact Aerospike at and ask for a free one-on-one consultation with our Solution Architect staff to evaluate your specific situation. Or simply download your free Enterprise Trial from our website, and join the Aerospike revolution.

For the full report on “Five Signs You Have Outgrown Cassandra (and What to Do About It)“, please download our White Paper.