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Instaclustr CTO on open source database as a service

In recent years, organizations of all sizes have increasingly come to rely on open source database technologies, including Apache Cassandra.

The complexity of deploying and managing Cassandra at scale has led to a rise in database-as-a-service (DBaaS) providers offering managed Cassandra services in the cloud. Among the vendors that provide managed Cassandra today are DataStax, Amazon and Instaclustr.

Instaclustr, based in Redwood City, Calif., got its start in 2013 and has grown over the past eight years to offer managed services for a number of different open source data layer projects, including Kafka event streaming, Redis database and data caching as well as Elasticsearch data query and visualization.

In this Q&A, Ben Bromhead, co-founder and CTO of Instaclustr, discusses the intersection of open source and enterprise software and why database as a service is a phenomenon that is here to stay.

How has Instaclustr changed over the last eight years?

Ben BromheadBen Bromhead

Ben Bromhead: Our original vision was wildly different and, like all good startups, we had a pretty decent pivot. When the original team got together, we were working on a marketplace for high value data sets. We took a data warehouse approach for the different data sets we provided and the access model was pure SQL. It was kind of interesting from a computer science perspective, but we probably weren’t as savvy as we needed to be to take that kind of business to market.

But one of the things we learned along the way was there was a real need for Apache Cassandra database services. We had to spend a lot of time getting our Cassandra database ready and managing it. We quickly realized that there was a market for that, so we built a web interface for a service with credit card billing, wrote a few blog posts and within a few months we had our first production customers. That’s how we kind of pivoted and got into the Cassandra database-as-a-service space.

Originally, when we built Instaclustr the idea was very much around the idea of democratizing Cassandra for smaller users and smaller use cases. Over the years, we very clearly started to move into medium and large enterprises because they tend to have bigger deployments. They also tend to have more money and are less likely to go out of business.

There are a few Cassandra DBaaS vendors now (including Amazon). How do you see the expansion of the market?

Bromhead: We’re very much of the view that having more players in the market validates the market. But sure, it does make our jobs a little bit harder.

Our take on it [managed Cassandra as a service] is also a little bit different from some of the other vendors in that we really take a multi-technology approach. So you know, not only are we engaging with our customers around their Cassandra cluster, but we’re also helping them with the Kafka cluster, Elasticsearch and Redis.

So what ends up happening is we end up becoming a trusted partner for a customer’s data layer and that’s our goal. We certainly got our start with Cassandra, that’s our bread and butter and what we’re known for, but in terms of the business vision, we want to be there as a data layer supporting different use cases.

You know, it’s great to see more Cassandra services come in. They’ve got a particular take on it and we’ve got a particular take on it. I’m very much a believer that a rising tide lifts all boats.

How does Instaclustr select and determine which open source data layer technologies you will support and turn into a managed service?

Bromhead: We’re kind of 100 percent driven by customers. So you know, when they asked us for something, they’re like, ‘Hey, you do a great job with our Elasticsearch cluster, can you look after our Redis or a Mongo?’ That’s probably the major signal that we pay most attention to. We also look at the market and certainly look at what other technologies are getting deployed side by side.

It’s one thing to have an open source license. It’s another thing to have strong governance and strong IP and copyright protection.
Ben BromheadCo-founder and CTO, Instaclustr

We very clearly look for and prefer technologies where the core IP or the majority of the IP is owned by an open source foundation. So whether that’s Apache or the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, whatever they may be. It’s one thing to have an open source license. It’s another thing to have strong governance and strong IP and copyright protection.

What are the challenges for Instaclustr in taking an open source project and turning into an enterprise grade DBaaS?

Bromhead: The open source versus enterprise grade production argument is starting to become a little bit of a false dichotomy to some degree. One thing we’ve been super focused on in the open source space around Cassandra is getting it to be more enterprise-grade and doing it in an open source way.

So a great example of that is: We have released a bunch of authentication improvements to Apache Cassandra that typically you only see in the enterprise distributions. We’ve also released backup and audit capabilities as well.

It’s one thing to have the features and to be able to tick the feature box as you kind of go down the list. It’s another thing to run a technology in a production-grade way. We take a lot of the pain out of that, in an easily reproducible, repeatable manner so that our support team can make sure that we’re delivering on our core support promises. Some of the challenges of getting stuff set up in a production-grade manner is going to get a little bit easier, particularly with the rise of Kubernetes.

The core challenge, however, for a lot of companies is actually just the expertise of being skilled in particular technologies.

We don’t live in a world where everything just lives on an Oracle or a MySQL database. You know, more and more teams are dealing with two or three or four different databases.

What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on Instaclustr?

Bromhead: On the business side of things it has been a mixed bag. As a DBaaS, we’re exposed to many different industries. Some of the people we work with have travel booking websites or event-based business and those have either had to pack up shop or go into hibernation.

On the flip side, we work with a ton of digital entertainment companies, including video game platforms, and that traffic has gone through the roof. We’re also seeing some people turn to Instaclustr as a way to reduce costs, to get out of expensive, unnecessary licensing agreements that they have.

We’re still in a pretty good path for growth for this year, so I think that speaks volumes to the resilient nature of the business and the diversity that we have in the customer base.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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MariaDB X4 brings smart transactions to open source database

MariaDB has come a long way from its MySQL database roots. The open source database vendor released its new MariaDB X4 platform, providing users with “smart transactions” technology to enable both analytical and transactional databases.

MariaDB, based in Redwood City, Calif., was founded in 2009 by the original creator of MySQL, Monty Widenius, as a drop replacement for MySQL, after Widenius grew disillusioned with the direction that Oracle was taking the open source database.

Oracle acquired MySQL via its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2008. Now, in 2020, MariaDB still uses the core MySQL database protocol, but the MariaDB database has diverged significantly in other ways that are manifest in the X4 platform update.

The MariaDB X4 release, unveiled Jan. 14, puts the technology squarely in the cloud-native discussion, notably because MariaDB is allowing for specific workloads to be paired with specific storage types at the cloud level, said James Curtis, senior analyst of data, AI and analytics at 451 Research.

“There are a lot of changes that they implemented, including new and improved storage engines, but the thing that stands out are the architectural adjustments made that blend row and columnar storage at a much deeper level — a change likely to appeal to many customers,” Curtis said.

MariaDB X4 smart transactions converges database functions

The divergence with MySQL has ramped up over the past three years, said Shane Johnson, senior director of product marketing at MariaDB. In recent releases MariaDB has added Oracle database compatibility, which MySQL does not include, he noted.

In addition, MariaDB’s flagship platform provides a database firewall and dynamic data masking, both features designed to improve security and data privacy. The biggest difference today, though, between MariaDB and SQL is how MariaDB supports pluggable storage engines, which gain new functionality in the X4 update.

The thing that stands out are the architectural adjustments made that blend row and columnar storage at a much deeper level — a change likely to appeal to many customers.
James CurtisSenior analyst of data, AI and analytics, 451 Research

Previously when using the pluggable storage engine, users would deploy an instance of MariaDB for transactional use cases with the InnoDB storage engine and another instance with the ColumnStore columnar storage engine for analytics, Johnson explained.

In earlier releases, a Change Data Capture process synchronized those two databases. In the MariaDB X4 update, transactional and analytical features have been converged in an approach that MariaDB calls smart transactions.

“So, when you install MariaDB, you get all the existing storage engines, as well as ColumnStore, allowing you to mix and match to use row and columnar data to do transactions and analytics, very simply, and very easily,” Johnson said.

MariaDB X4 aligns cloud storage

Another new capability in MariaDB X4 is the ability to more efficiently use cloud storage back ends.

“Each of the storage mediums is optimized for a different workload,” Johnson said.

For example, Johnson noted that Amazon Web Service’s S3, is a good fit for analytics, because of its high-availability and capacity. He added that for transactional applications with row-based storage, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) is a better fit. The ability to mix and match both EBS and S3 in the MariaDB X4 platform makes it easier for user to consolidate both analytics and transactional workload in the database.

“The update for X4 is not so much that you can run MariaDB in the cloud, because you’ve always been able to do that, but rather that you can run it with smart transactions and have it optimized for cloud storage services,” Johnson said.

MariaDB database as a service (DBaaS) is coming

MariaDB said it plans to expand its portfolio further this year.

The core MariaDB open source community project is currently at version 10.4, with plans for version 10.5, which will include the smart transactions capabilities, to debut sometime in the coming weeks, according to MariaDB.

The new smart transaction capabilities have already landed in the MariaDB Enterprise 10.4 update. The MariaDB Enterprise Server has more configuration settings and hardening for enterprise use cases.

The full MariaDB X4 platform goes a step further with the MariaDB MaxScale database proxy, which provides automatic failover, transaction replay and a database firewall, as well as utilities that developers need to build database applications.

Johnson noted that traditionally new features tend to land in the community version first, but as it happened, during this cycle MariaDB developers were able to get the features into the enterprise release quicker.

MariaDB has plans to launch a new DBaaS product this year. Users can already deploy MariaDB to a cloud of choice on their own. MariaDB also has a managed service that provides full management for a MariaDB environment.

“With the managed service, we take care of everything for our customers, where we deploy MariaDB on their cloud of choice and we will manage it, administer it, operate and upgrade, it,” Johnson said. “We will have our own database as a service rolling out this year, which will provide an even better option.”

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3 healthcare CIOs on what they think 2020 will bring

Three healthcare CIOs believe 2020 will come with exciting opportunities as well as challenges — not unlike 2019.

They are heading into the new year with the goal of building a more digitally-focused healthcare system. They’re also focused on improving the patient experience through continuous patient monitoring and predictive analytics backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning programs, telehealth services and greater access to data.

That won’t be easy. Arthur Harvey, Boston Medical Center CIO, said one challenge he foresees is integrating data across the continuum of care.

Here are their biggest takeaways from 2019 and what’s on their agendas for the new year.

What is your biggest takeaway from 2019?

Craig RichardvilleCraig Richardville

Craig Richardville, CIO at SCL Health in Broomfield, Colo.: The biggest takeaway from 2019 is that the future of healthcare delivery and financing is as unknown as it’s ever been. What that means is that we have an opportunity to participate in its new definition and to start painting the vision of the future. 

Arthur Harvey, CIO at Boston Medical Center: To me, as a CIO, I’ve got to be focused on the business rather than just technologies and looking for technologies that solve my business problems. I think one of the biggest challenges we’re having is the acceleration of the need to share data across the continuum of care with people who are… my partners, but I don’t control them. We’ve got to come up with techniques and technologies to share data across the continuum of care that are doable by organizations of different sizes. I can’t expect a little community health center to do what I can do. If I look at what we spent a lot of time on this year, it’s that.

John Bosco, CIO at Northwell Health in Manhattan, N.Y.: In general, I would say things are changing rapidly in healthcare. We’ve got care model reform. For us it’s a lot of growth and expansion… it feels like controlled chaos.

What new trend or technology came onto the scene in 2019 that you’ll be paying attention to in 2020?

Richardville: There was not a new technology, from my perspective, that took us by storm, but rather a heightened interest and advancement in business use cases in several areas. First, digital transformation and assets. Secondly, voice services as both an input mechanism and natural language processing. Thirdly, artificial intelligence with providing self-service, assistance and the building of a digital workforce. All of these will be accelerated in 2020 with improved adoption and acceptance.

Arthur HarveyArthur Harvey

Harvey: Data democratization, or self-service. The idea of providing data and providing tools that could be used by people outside of IT to come to some business conclusions. This isn’t revolutionary, but I think we’re at a point right now where most places have something like Tableau… and I think extending that down to the provider level, I think we’re going to see that in 2020. That’s a good thing so people can use data to inform their decisions on how they provide care or manage their practice.

Bosco: We’re only at the very beginning of transformation when it comes to continuous patient monitoring. Being able to put sensors on patients when they come in the door is really huge. I think we’re all at the very beginning of that. We’ve got about four, five or six pilots going on of different sensors for different purposes in our hospitals. Sensors backed up by AI and machine learning programs, we think, are going to have an incredible impact on healthcare and we’re only at the very beginning of that.

What challenge presented itself in 2019 that you will be dealing with in 2020?

Richardville: The continued challenge with each and all of our progressions will be the culture and its ability to transform through change management and change realization. We need to create a culture of continuous change, improvement, and the courage to transform and advance ourselves and our industry.

Harvey: Data integration across different organizations. It was hard enough to do data integration inside of an organization for years, that’s why HL7 was invented. But now, when we’re trying to do it across organizations it gets hard. Part of it is we need standards. I would describe current standards for a lot of this data as evolving.

John BoscoJohn Bosco

Bosco: Patient experience is No. 1 — it tends to be No. 1 in a lot of places. That’s been a big challenge and will continue to be. From the IT side, patient experience is broad. It’s thinking about access to finding care, scheduling care and the administrative aspect of coming here. How easy do we make all of that? We’re also doing a lot with trying to stay in contact with patients after they leave and help them get well and stay well.

What are you most excited for in 2020?

Richardville: I think you need to keep your head on a swivel and your eyes completely open. The speed in which solutions will be available both inside and outside of the industry will grow exponentially. So your ability to take advantage of the current, be prepared for the future and be flexible for the unknown will be characteristics of success.

Harvey: Most of the things that have me jazzed are things that have been around a while but now are getting to the point where adoption actually improves healthcare. As an example, I’m very excited about telehealth. I think it’s now become much more mainstream, and that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for patients for providers, for everybody … being able to extend [healthcare] services for convenience purposes to get patients where they need to be seen for minor stuff. I think we’re going to see some real advantages there.

Bosco: The cutting-edge stuff is always the most fun, so I’m very excited to continue testing and piloting innovations. I think AI is going to rule the world in healthcare and in our personal lives, so I would have to label that as most exciting. I think it’s going to get to the point where everything is so much smarter, so much more sophisticated because it’s being driven by AI behind the scenes. Every part of our lives is going to become more sophisticated because of this and this is going to have a profound impact on everyone.

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“I firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see.”

“Bluebell is in a disadvantaged area, and when I have kids come in from similar areas, I always tell them where I’m from. And they’re like, ‘No, you’re not!’” she says. “Because to them, seeing someone from Bluebell working at Microsoft is a big deal. And I just hope that they think, ‘If she works here, I can work here.’”

After a recent class, a student thanked Amanda and told her that she’d only seen men code before. The chance to code alongside other girls was something she’d never imagined.

“That was a ‘whoa’ moment for me.” Amanda pauses and then sighs with disappointment. “Of course, I know the statistics about women in the tech industry. But to actually have a student say that made the reality and the impact so much more real.”

In the next year, Amanda hopes to reach more students through DreamSpace by traveling to rural areas, training more teachers, and even creating mini-DreamSpace environments at schools—colorful and comfortable corners within classrooms where students can learn together.A woman laughs while two younger women look at a computer screen and point. They are having fun learning.

“I firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see,” Amanda says.

“I want to show students that it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what your parents do. You can do this; it’s possible for you.”

*****

Back at Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Amanda hugs her former coworkers good-bye and heads out of her old science lab. As her hand swipes an empty student desk, she thinks lovingly about the past. She loves what she does now—growing her own skills in new ways—but she’ll always remember where she came from.

Making her way to the exit, Amanda walks past the front office receptionist—a new employee who didn’t work there when Amanda was a teacher at the school.

“Hello, I’m Amanda. I used to teach here.”

“Hmm. What do you do now?” the receptionist asks, assuming Amanda has left the vocation as well as the school.

“Oh, I still teach,” she says, her face lighting up with pride. “But now, I’m a teacher at Microsoft.”

*****

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Salesforce email marketing gets Einstein AI infusion

Salesforce unveiled on Thursday Marketing Cloud email features to come, including Einstein AI tools to automate, personalize and analyze outcomes of email campaigns and interactive emails. Salesforce also introduced testing tools to detect potential errors before hitting the send button.

The Salesforce email marketing AI features scheduled for release later this month include Einstein Content Selection, which makes personalized recommendations for images based on customer preferences. Einstein Copy Insights, also slated for later this month, predicts verbiage most likely to drive customer response in email subject lines and body text, as well as for social media and text messages.

Also, part of the upcoming release is a testing and validation tool that examines email addresses for missing elements, text errors and off-topic offers before sending emails to a list. 

Einstein Messaging Insights, scheduled for January release, analyzes email campaigns to figure out why some campaigns underperform against expected results. More importantly, it can help determine why overperforming ones succeed.

“If you’re doing something that’s performing pretty well, it’s going to try to tell you why,” said Bobby Jania, Salesforce product marketing VP. “So, you’re learning from that and can use it in other campaigns.”

Salesforce also plans to pilot an interactive email builder, based on technology from its Rebel acquisition earlier this year. It can embed surveys, polls and image carousels inside emails. That avails content that otherwise might require an email recipient to click on a web link, which reduces customer engagement.

Consumers and B2B buyers prefer email as the channel to receive marketing messages, according to a Salesforce-commissioned survey of 8,000 consumers and B2B buyers conducted last April. Respondents indicated email remains the favorite channel despite the rise of competing social media and text messaging channels, Jania said.

Salesforce email marketing tools screenshot.
Salesforce email marketing tools now can tap AI to match hero images in individual emails to preferences found in customer data.

Email is not going anywhere as the most-used digital marketing channel, said Constellation Research analyst Nicole France. The upcoming Salesforce email marketing tools aren’t particularly groundbreaking, she said, as other vendors offer similar capabilities.

However, France said that Salesforce is doing what it does well: Getting Einstein AI into the hands of its customers by embedding it in tools they can use right away without help from a data scientist. That will make the tools useful.

“No one’s using AI for the sake of using AI,” France said. “This is a practical use of AI in the marketer’s daily work.”

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For Sale – Asus GTX 980 ti with EK full waterblock and backplate

Does come with original cooler and box but don’t have the screws for it, probably a few £ of ebay.
A couple of screws missing on the block but doesn’t affect the block no leaks etc.
Hard to put a price on it so will be asking £180. £185 delivered.
Was going to sell the block for £50 and card for £150 but would rather sell together.
Upgraded to RTX 2080 and cannot really tell a difference in fps in the games that I play.
Overclocks to above 1500Mhz.

Will update photos using mobile phone later on.
Will be putting it on Ebay and other forums.
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For Sale – Windows 7 Home Premium Full Retail (New, Sealed)

Hello

Bit of a clear out and I’ve come across a new, unopened full retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (based on the sticker on the box, I bought it from Comet originally!). As a full retail copy, you can use this to install Windows 7 Home Premium without needing any existing operating system on the laptop / PC etc.

I believe that these keys are also still accepted for a clean install of Windows 10 too, so that might be a bonus (but I don’t promise anything): https://www.howtogeek.com/266072/yo…ws-10-for-free-with-a-windows-7-8-or-8.1-key/

Price includes recorded delivery postage.

Price and currency: £50.00
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank Transfer
Location: South London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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For Sale – Asus GTX 980 ti with EK full waterblock and backplate

Does come with original cooler and box but don’t have the screws for it, probably a few £ of ebay.
A couple of screws missing on the block but doesn’t affect the block no leaks etc.
Hard to put a price on it so will be asking £180. £185 delivered.
Was going to sell the block for £50 and card for £150 but would rather sell together.
Upgraded to RTX 2080 and cannot really tell a difference in fps in the games that I play.
Overclocks to above 1500Mhz.

Will update photos using mobile phone later on.
Will be putting it on Ebay and other forums.
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Author:

For Sale – Windows 7 Home Premium Full Retail (New, Sealed)

Hello

Bit of a clear out and I’ve come across a new, unopened full retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (based on the sticker on the box, I bought it from Comet originally!). As a full retail copy, you can use this to install Windows 7 Home Premium without needing any existing operating system on the laptop / PC etc.

I believe that these keys are also still accepted for a clean install of Windows 10 too, so that might be a bonus (but I don’t promise anything): https://www.howtogeek.com/266072/yo…ws-10-for-free-with-a-windows-7-8-or-8.1-key/

Price includes recorded delivery postage.

Price and currency: £50.00
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank Transfer
Location: South London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Go to Original Article
Author:

For Sale – Windows 7 Home Premium Full Retail (New, Sealed)

Hello

Bit of a clear out and I’ve come across a new, unopened full retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (based on the sticker on the box, I bought it from Comet originally!). As a full retail copy, you can use this to install Windows 7 Home Premium without needing any existing operating system on the laptop / PC etc.

I believe that these keys are also still accepted for a clean install of Windows 10 too, so that might be a bonus (but I don’t promise anything): https://www.howtogeek.com/266072/yo…ws-10-for-free-with-a-windows-7-8-or-8.1-key/

Price includes recorded delivery postage.

Price and currency: £50.00
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank Transfer
Location: South London
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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