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ScyllaDB 4.0 brings DynamoDB to open source NoSQL database

After years of focusing on Apache Cassandra compatibility, ScyllaDB 4.0 now also is compatible with Amazon's DynamoDB, bringing new deployment options for users.

ScyllaDB is expanding its open source NoSQL database platform with a new release that now enables drop-in replacement support for Amazon's DynamoDB database.

The Scylla Open Source 4.0 release became generally available on May 6. Since ScyllaDB's inception in 2015 the vendor has positioned the open source project as a drop-in replacement for the Apache Cassandra database, as well as providing its own stand-alone performance benefits. As a drop-in replacement, the goal is to enable users of either Cassandra and now DynamoDB, to be able to use the same data, tables and schema in a ScyllaDB deployment.

In addition to the DynamoDB support, ScyllaDB 4.0 benefits from a series of enhancements that were previewed at the Scylla Summit 2019 conference. Key among those features is Lightweight Transactions, which helps to ensure that data gets properly recorded consistently and simultaneously across all nodes in a ScyllaDB cluster.

Among ScyllaDB's users is marketing technology vendor Numberly, based in Paris. Alexys Jacob, CTO of Numberly, said that his company has been using Scylla in production for more than two years to sustain high throughput and latency-sensitive workloads. Teams of data engineers, data analysts and even project managers at Numberly are using ScyllaDB.

"As a data expert, Numberly has to deal with a lot of different types of data and while speed is important to us, so is our ability to be smart in how we keep our data sets up to date," Jacob said. "This is why Lightweight Transactions has been something we've been discussing with ScyllaDB developers for a while now, and we have strong expectations about it."

ScyllaDB 4.0 also provides a change data capture (CDC) capability as a beta feature that is of interest to Numberly. CDC makes it easier for event streaming applications to write database changes. Jacob noted that Numberly is a user of Apache Kafka for event streams. As such, he expects that the new CDC enhancement is also going to be a valuable feature that will enable Numberly to react even more rapidly to data changes throughout its data pipelines.

New Kubernetes Operator for ScyllaDB
The new Kubernetes Operator for ScyllaDB helps users define and scale cloud-native database deployment.

Why DynamoDB support matters for ScyllaDB 4.0

Supporting DynamoDB was a natural extension for ScyllaDB since the two are similar types of columnar, NoSQL databases, according to ScyllaDB CEO Dor Laor.

Lightweight transactions has been something we've been discussing with ScyllaDB developers for a while now, and we have strong expectations about it.
Alexys JacobCTO, Numberly

"For us, adding this DynamoDB API was relatively simple because the way data is kept and accessed within the Cassandra API is pretty much well mapped to the DynamoDB API," Laor explained.

Laor noted that while DynamoDB is a good database, it is only available on AWS, which can be a limiting factor for some organizations that don't want the risk of being locked in. Laor said that with an open source database, like ScyllaDB, a user can run the database wherever they choose, whether that's in the public cloud or on premises.

Moving from DynamoDB to ScyllaDB is aided with ScyllaDB migration tools that can scan data from an existing Cassandra or DynamoDB database and send it to a new ScyllaDB target. Laor noted that ScyllaDB also enables a reverse migration, such that a user can choose to migrate data out of ScyllaDB to Cassandra or DynamoDB.

ScyllaDB going cloud-native with a Kubernetes Operator

Another key capability that ScyllaDB is previewing alongside the 4.0 update is a Kubernetes Operator for ScyllaDB.

Kubernetes is an increasingly popular container orchestration system that helps enable cloud-native application deployment. A Kubernetes Operator is a mechanism that helps to define and automate application deployment onto a Kubernetes cluster. Multiple database vendors, including DataStax, Couchbase, NuoDB and CockroachDB, have also embraced the Kubernetes Operator model.

"If you asked me a year or two ago, I wasn't all that keen on Kubernetes at all because it adds another layer of complexity," Laor said. "But Kubernetes has improved over the years and it's tremendously easy to scale Scylla with the Kubernetes Operator."

COVID-19 impact on ScyllaDB

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ScyllaDB and its community has varied so far.

ScyllaDB is a distributed organization, with many employees already working from home.

"Some of our customers are affected negatively and some are affected positively," Laor said. "We sell across different verticals, so of course all of the travel segment is affected negatively, while gaming flourishes, so we see both outcomes."

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