DataStax bought Aurelius

Today is Wednesday, February 4th 2015. This is X bought Y, I’m Matt Croydon. Yesterday was a big day in data nerd circles. DataStax, a company built around a piece of open source software called Cassandra, bought a company called Aurelius, that had made a name for themselves selling premium products and services on top of a series of open source graph storage and query projects. Let me break that down piece by piece by piece.

DataStax emerged back in 2010 to help commercial clients figure out how to apply this crazy new data storage project called Cassandra that had been released as open source by Facebook back in 2008. It was cutting edge tech: you could scale your storage by just throwing more servers at it. One of those servers could blow up and it’s no big deal. There was no single point of failure. But man was it a pain to set up and figure out. That’s where DataStax came in, offering consulting, documentation, pre-packaged versions of Cassandra, and eventually building products on top of it.

I’ve been following Aurelius since they released their Titan open source graph database back in 2012. A graph database is a different way of storing and querying data than your traditional spreadsheet or database. Instead of rows and columns, you have nodes, essentially things, and edges, which are the little lines connecting them, often with additional information attached. You might have heard people talk about their social graph, the people that they’re connected to on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. Using a graph as a way to store and query data can be really powerful, but it’s not super intuitive either, and that’s where Aurelius’ products and services came in.

So yeah, it’s a big deal if you’re a data nerd, but for most folks these pieces of technology will just keep running in the background powering things like Netflix, fraud protection at banks, and storing data for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

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