Cassandra – not the girl next door


On a cold winter’s night, Big Data enthusiasts gathered in Century City. Finding shelter in the bright, cheery main hall of Factual, we ate pizza, drank beer, and talked about Cassandra, a NoSQL database management system.

Before his talk I caught up with the evening’s speaker, Christian Carollo, and learned more about what led him to where he is now. A few fun facts about Christian:

-He slept through the Northridge earthquake.
-Christian was a Psychology major.
-He grew up playing the saxophone.

As a self taught technologist, Christian shared some valuable advice for other non-Computer Science majors interested in getting into the field. “The best route to get into tech is to be creative, dedicated, willing to experiment, innovate, and just go for it. You need to prove your worth and learn as much as you can.”

Now as the Director of Cloud and Alternative Platform Development at GameFly, a leading video game service, Christian manages the development of their mobile platform offerings and the social service that runs on them.  He shared his insight into that experience, and what led him to Cassandra.

GameFly wanted to do social and bring user engagement up. Social platforms, everything from Instagram to LinkedIn, have one thing in common – massive usage/data. In simple terms they needed the ability to scale.  “We hated relying on one big server, which led us to the cloud. We wanted the ability to go to bed at night and know even if we lost 1-2 servers everything would be fine.”

Having a small team allowed Christian to experiment with various tools and implement quickly. They spent the majority of their time looking at databases including MySQL and MongoDB. Christian and his team were drawn to Cassandra like a magnet because it was based off of BigTable and Dynamo. Also, after trying Java, Ruby, and Event Machine they decided on Python. “They gave us the flexibility we were looking for.”

Word of the night “Idempotent”.

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