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4/23/2010
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Riptano Offers Cassandra Commercial Support

Two former Rackspace employees form a spin-off to support the Cassandra open source database.

A company has been formed to supply commercial support to users of open source Cassandra, a database for sprawling Web data. Social networking sites Twitter, Facebook, and Digg are among the prominent users of Cassandra, with Twitter storing 15 million tweets a day.

Riptano was founded last week by Jonathan Ellis, the chairman of the Apache Software Foundation's Cassandra project, and Matt Pfeil. Until two months ago, the pair worked together at Rackspace where Ellis was a systems architect and Pfeil was a technology strategist.

Rackspace has given its blessing to its recently departed employees by investing in their new company, but Rackspace VP of corporate development Jim Curry declined to say how much. So far, Ellis and Pfeil are the only two employees.

Ellis said he had been approached several times by Cassandra users seeking commercial support, which prompted the pair to leave Rackspace to form the company. Rackspace itself is a user of Cassandra internally, and anticipates the day when it may offer Cassandra database services as part of the Rackspace Cloud, said Curry.

"We have been backing Cassandra for some time. When Jonathan was part of the company, Rackspace was a leading contributor to Cassandra, and it still employs one of the project's leading contributors," Curry said in an interview Friday. "For us, it's important to see innovation on top of our platform. We believe Cassandra will be part of our offering in the future."

"Data is getting bigger and there's more of it on a daily basis. It's affecting companies of all shapes and sizes," said Pfeil. Dealing with the growth of data through traditional relational database systems is expensive, while the NoSQL systems, such as CouchDB, Voldemort, MongoDB, Membase, and other systems scale up to match big data needs simply by adding commodity hardware and open source code.

Riptano will offer training in Cassandra, consulting and technical support, said Pfeil, summing up the new company's business plan. Support will come in Bronze at $1,000 a year per node, Silver at $2,000 a year per node or Gold at $4,000 a year per node. Cassandra typically runs on a server cluster and Cassandra clusters can be expanded to an unlimited number of nodes, according to current users.

The difference between bronze and gold is a 48-hour response time versus a four-hour response.

Ellis said he will continue contributing code to the open source project, but Riptano may maintain Cassandra management tools that it develops as a proprietary product.

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