This seems to be the only Cassandra book available at present, so is probably worth owning if you are interested in Cassaandra. However, it added little to the information available on the web in tutorials etc. The section on the internal architecture is confusing and a little disorganised, even when you already understand much of the material. There are quite a few detailed Java code snippets (for client code), but these are very verbose and not well-explained, so don't add as much value as you'd expect. The diagrams explaining the column-based databse structure are some of the best I've seen for Cassandra, although they aren't used as much as they could be within the book. The areas I was hoping for extra details on (load balancing, order-preserving partitioning) aren't covered in much detail. The sections on managing Cassandra in production are far too superficial - they describe many of the parameters one might set - but don't really discuss the tradeoffs or how to select the values. This is problem of style throughout much of the book - it goes into many implementation details, without discussing properly why they matter. Some of the worked examples similarly abandon the reader halfway through without enough explanation.
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If we were in 2010 then I would be here singing the praises of Cassandra: The Definitive Guide. Unfortunately, five years have passed since it has hit the shelves and while the book still provides some interesting insights about Cassandra, it definitely suffers its age. At the time of printing, version 0.7 was about to get released. As we speak, Cassandra reached version 2.1.2.
With this being said, a warning: to get the most out of this title, the reader must have a good grasp of both Java (all the code is in Java!) and relational databases. Yes relational databases, because throughout the whole book the author constantly presents challenges and how they could be solved with RDBMs (if they ever could) and Cassandra.
I like the approach of the author. He doesn’t want the reader to switch whatever database he’s using to Cassandra. There is no need to drive a semi truck to go buy cigarettes. No, the author rather wants us to know what Cassandra is and what it can offer so that we can make an informed decision. The question thus is what would you do if you had this durability, this scalability and these blazing fast writes?
In these 300 pages all the aspects of the life cycle of a Cassandra cluster are covered: installation, configuration, monitoring and how to keep it healthy. The code is not missing but, back to the original problem, it refers to an outdated API or, worse, to the CLI, which is now close to get completely deprecated, which means that to replicate what the author does, you often have to go search in the CLI wiki.
A nice book, no doubts. While the project significantly evolved since 2010, it still provides valuable information to anyone new to Cassandra.
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