Learning a new skill or trade is not always an easy task, especially when you’re relatively new to the workforce. Since joining Anant, I’ve spent a lot of time expanding my skill set to put myself in a position to effectively contribute to the success of my company. One of the skills I’ve been focusing on is Apache Cassandra.
Apache Cassandra is a distributed database management system that is used by a multitude of companies worldwide. The main benefits of using Apache Cassandra are that it is scalable, fault-tolerant, uses a language similar to SQL, plus it uses NoSQL so it is not a relational database. It is specifically designed to work with big data, both structured and unstructured, which is important for larger companies. Big data is important because it can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves such as: determining root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time, generating coupons at the point of sale based on the customer’s buying habits, recalculating entire risk portfolios in minutes, and detecting fraudulent behavior before it affects your organization. This is an extremely beneficial skill to learn, so how does one go about mastering it?
From my experience, it is best to start with understanding the context or reason behind why and how the software does what it does. A good tool to help understand the context behind Apache Cassandra is DataStax’ online course. The course is free, interactive, extremely detailed and resourceful.
Instructors introduce a specific feature, explain what it does and talk about the possible real-world applications. Undoubtedly, the most impressive feature of this course is that each section typically has a quiz at the end to test that you have absorbed all the vocabulary that they presented. You can take the quizzes as many times as you want so you can make sure you have a firm understanding of the material before moving on. Here is the introductory course.
The DataStax course is amazing, however, it takes a while before you do anything practical. As a result, I soon found myself yearning for something different. I spent hours listening to the same group of people lecture me and everything quickly became stale. Something that I would recommend doing to counter this would be to carry out a practical exercise. The first thing you do in the course is to set up your Apache Cassandra environment. So from day 1, you are already in a position to get some hands-on experience. Personally, I prefer to find a Youtube video where I can follow an exercise or project walkthrough. There are many different types of tutorials out there such as blog posts, podcasts or even finding an in-person tutor. We’re all different, so I definitely encourage you to go with what suits you best.
Lastly, if at all possible, I encourage you to attend meetups or conference events to accelerate and enhance your learning. Apache Cassandra is a highly specific area of expertise, so meeting highly educated individuals can reward you with great advice from their experiences. Fortunately, DataStax organizes conferences where the DataStax team that designed the course leads presentations and tutorials. They schedule several different workshops that apply to developers with all levels of expertise. Also, these events provide an opportunity for one to create a community with other attendees. Checkout DataStax’ Events Page or Meetup to find out about upcoming events!
The journey into Big Data and Apache Cassandra has been thoroughly engaging and enlightening. It’ll help me solve complicated tasks with ease and has a short learning curve. Apache Cassandra also lowers the administrative overhead and costs for a DevOps engineer and offers rapid writing and lightning-fast reading. It is a lot to retain and sometimes it is hard to find motivation but that is easy to overcome. Find what works for you early enough and surround yourself with other positive, like-minded individuals. If you accomplish this, I am confident you’ll master Apache Cassandra in no time.
Apache Cassandra is a powerful database software that can be extremely useful for a multitude of tasks. If you have any questions about using Apache Cassandra or any NoSQL database related questions send us an email!