• Apache Cassandra
  • Technical
The true cost of Do It Yourself Apache Cassandra Implementations


If you are reading this article, you probably have to address data scaling challenges at your company. And it is very likely that you have come to the conclusion that Apache Cassandra is the right solution for your needs.

What remains to be decided is what your deployment strategy will be: do you do it yourself, or do you outsource? Do you commit to building world-class expertise in Cassandra deployment, security, and management, or do you outsource to those that have already made the necessary investment in expertise, infrastructure, and made that their primary business focus?

Today, we understand that we want to control what is strategic to us, and outsource what is critical. A business operation is strategic if it confers differentiation or competitive advantage, resulting in increased revenues, profitability, and market share for your company. Otherwise, it is not strategic and is therefore a candidate for outsourcing.

Note that mission critical and strategic are two different things. Email and phone systems are mission critical to most businesses, but no business today would think of building its own phone system or email server—unless it meant to sell the service to customers. Mission critical operations are a good candidate for outsourcing. Because they are critical, they must be done right—and therefore consume too much time and focus away from what is strategic and core to your business.

Is Cassandra implementation and deployment your core business, or does your core business run on Cassandra? If the latter, then it is considered mission critical—and needs to operate flawlessly. You must ensure that it is always on, operating security and at peak performance. However, doing it yourself will only dilute your focus, divert the skills, energy, and resources you need to excel at your core business—where you make money.

To help you analyze your options, consider three key points when deciding whether it makes sense to build your own Cassandra competency center, or to outsource Cassandra management to an expert Cassandra Managed Services Provider. The financial cost, timeline, and overall business risk levels of deploying your own Cassandra infrastructure are just too high to take on, especially when there are better options available.

Financial Considerations

Unless your company is willing to invest, at a minimum, $400,000 to $500,000 a year on building the necessary expertise, infrastructure, and processes, you should outscore this very critical operation to those that have already made such an investment.The chart on the right shows that, for the first year, a company can expect to spend at least $400,000 to $450,000 to deploy its own Cassandra infrastructure, and nearly as much for each year after.At present, the demand for Cassandra expertise far outweighs the supply. Recruiting fees are high, and so is the cost of keeping these experts within your company.Each year, you can expect the salaries for your core Cassandra team to grow by 10% or more just to keep them in your company as recruiters call on them.

Year 1 Base Burdened
Cassandra Expert200,000236,000
Support 190,000106,200
Recruiting Cost58,00058,000
Total First Year 435,200
Year 2 Base Burdened
Cassandra Expert220,000259,600
Support 199,000116,820
Total Second Year 396,420

Compare this with the cost of outsourcing to a Managed Services Provider that charges $100,000 per year to expertly deploy, manage, and monitor your Cassandra database—for less than one-fifth the cost.

Timeline Considerations

As has been indicated in the above section, there are too few Cassandra experts who have done enough Cassandra implementations to gain sufficient expertise in bringing your application into production quickly. Typical timelines for in-house deployments run between four (4) to six (6) months to get Cassandra up and running optimally.

Compare that with a Cassandra Managed Services Provider that can get you up and running expertly in a matter of 2-3 weeks—this is an order of magnitude difference!

Unlike the cost consideration—which is a mostly operational in nature—this has strategic implications. In today’s ever-changing customer needs, the ability to develop rapidly or to quickly release new features that can keep pace with growing customer needs must be matched with an ability to monitor 24×7 and rapidly make necessary changes to your Cassandra deployment. Otherwise, your very own agile development competencies could bring your production performance to a crawl.

Cassandra Managed Service Providers assume this to be the case. They constantly monitor throughput, latency, and disk usage, and make necessary adjustments on a 24×7 basis—not to mention security patches and much more.

Overall Business Risk Considerations

A third, and perhaps the most important, consideration is the risk of getting it all wrong. As pointed out in some detail in Part 3, this is a very real concern. Cassandra is a different type of data store, and it takes some time to get a real feel for how it works and the proper way to implement and mange it. A team can spend months getting it up and running, only to find out it is not performing as expected, or have difficulty keeping up with changes in customer usage that affect the performance of Cassandra.

Furthermore, if one or more of your Cassandra team members leaves for any reason, you run a very serious risk of having little or no in-house capabilities to deal with any failures that may occur. And, as we have already indicated, the current demand for Cassandra experts far exceeds the supply, making it nearly impossible to find quality Cassandra resources quickly.

While this third consideration is the hardest to quantify, it is perhaps the most important consideration as it is difficult to determine the impact on your business, until something bad happens.

Summary Comparison Chart

The chart below compares the cost, timeline, and overall risk considerations between deploying in-house, and outsourcing to an expert Cassandra Managed Services Provider.

IssueIn house DeploymentCassandra Managed ServicesRemarks
Cost$400,000 to $500,000 minimum per yearLess than $100,000 per yearAn 80% cost savings
TimelineMin of 4-6 months to be on production environmentTypically 2-3 weeks to be on production environmentOrder of magnitude difference
Overall RiskRisk of failure if one or more staff leavesMinimal to no risk as 80% or more of technical staff are Cassandra expertsNot easy to quantify risk but significant to unacceptable for most mission critical applications

Please contact us today to discuss various options you can consider on our managed platform to get your mission critical applications on Cassandra in the clouds quickly and securely so you can focus on your core applications.