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Cassandra: The Definitive Guide Paperback – November 29, 2010

3.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eben Hewitt is Director of Application Architecture at a publicly traded company where he is responsible for the design of their mission-critical, global-scale web, mobile and SOA integration projects. He has written several programming books, including Java SOA Cookbook (O'Reilly).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (November 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449390412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449390419
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm not a database person but I've worked with SQL databases (esp. MySQL) and have read a few papers about non-relational databases, particularly Google's Bigtable. I understand the "web-scale" data challenge and see how a distributed, fault-tolerant, tunable open-source database like Cassandra can be an incredibly useful tool for addressing it. Therefore I was really looking forward to the publication of Eben Hewitt's Cassandra, The Definitive Guide. I was hoping that it would lay out all the important things a person would need to know in order to decide whether Cassandra made sense for their project and, if it did, how specifically they would use it.

Now that the book's out and I've had a chance to read it once through, I have to say that it does not meet my expectations. The author is clearly very interested in his subject and also very anxious to share insights not only into Cassandra but into modern non-relational databases in general (to the extent of including a 25-page appendix "The Nonrelational Landscape" at the end of the book). He does a pretty good job of explaining how Cassandra works at the level of distributed storage including scaling as well as availability and consistency. And though I haven't gone through the steps, he seems to give pretty good instructions for installing, configuring and monitoring a Cassandra cluster.

What he doesn't cover nearly as well as I was hoping (and would have expected from an O'Reilly book) is data modeling in Cassandra and the actual APIs for putting data into the database and getting data out (i.e. querying). It's not that he doesn't cover these subjects at all.
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Format: Paperback
The information in this book is solid enough but its chaotic structure and lack of support for the code examples make it hard to justify a purchase.

The book was written to against version 0.7b2 of Cassandra. That beta status alone should be warning of the perils of premature publication. None of the code examples work (or indeed compile) with the current API (0.7b5). Downloading the latest code from the author's spartan support site offers little gain. The zip ball contains a readme file noting that the code did work once and suggesting the reader fixes it themselves.

There is a consistent pattern of requiring the reader to understand terms which are first defined several chapters later. Slices for example, or setting up the Cassandra JMX interface which is required for data loading in chapter 4 but first described in chapter 8.

Annoying, especially as there is solid information here and it's not badly written. Had the O'Reilly editors been more pro-active, ignored the me-first commercial pressures, delayed publication until the API stabilized and sorted out the structural problems in the writing this could have been a solid read.
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Format: Paperback
First up, I have nothing against the author. The author comes across as a genuine guy who is actually willing to invest energy in explanations. I just wish he had taken up a different topic. Now I am really fed-up of this whole genre of O'reilly books that do not add anything to what you can otherwise learn on the Internet for free. I bought the Indian edition (and paid only 9$)

#1) The edition I have talks about cassandra-0.7 that is already obsolete (now on 4 March, 2013 - we have 1.2)
The preferred way of accessing the store may be CQL3 now.

#2) As an application developer - The biggest concern I had was around solving my problem or data modeling. I do not want to delve too much into how to create a cluster and all. The example model of Hotel reservation is too simplistic. You are better off reading Jay Patel's Ebay tech blogs or Datastax's metric collection sample on the subject. They do a much better job of explaining the cassandra data model.

Also, any effort to introduce cassandra data modeling in terms of "equivalent RDBMS terms " is fraught with danger as cassandra is actually a big map. The book comes short on my data modeling expectations.

#3) Apart from storage, many people would be looking to run analytic on top of cassandra. It would have been great to explain how to run Hadoop/Pig on top of latest cassandra in detail.

#4) I do not/ cannot comment on how this book is for clustering and administration - because that is not my interest - please check other reviews for that.

The fact that we invest in books because they stand the test of time does not apply here. You cannot pull out this book from shelf two years down the line to check some fact or jog your memory. O'reilly sucks big time. These kinds of book are nothing but an effort to ride the latest wave of technology.
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This book is a fine introduction to Cassandra itself, and even to the whole genre of non relational databases. Where it falls down is if you want to actually start using Cassandra for an actual product. The fault doesn't lie with the book, but with the confused state of Cassandra clients. Basically no one codes directly to Cassandra: people code to one of the various Cassandra clients such as Thrift, Avro, Hector, Chirper, Pelops, etc. Cassandra has many clients none of which is the clear leader, and none of which really solve the full problem of writing to Cassandra.

Given that the only real way to learn system is to code to it this presents a real challenge. The current book will give you an overview and feel for Cassandra but will not by itself allow you to start using it.
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