Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of Apache Cassandra and Mimir so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how Apache Cassandra and Mimir perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
Apache Cassandra vs Mimir Breakdown
Distributed wide-column database
Time series database
Apache Cassandra follows a masterless, peer-to-peer architecture, where each node in the cluster is functionally the same and communicates with other nodes using a gossip protocol. Data is distributed across nodes in the cluster using consistent hashing, and Cassandra supports tunable consistency levels for read and write operations. It can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a managed service
Grafana Mimir is a time series database designed for high-performance, real-time monitoring, and analytics. It features a distributed architecture, allowing for horizontal scaling across multiple nodes to handle large volumes of data and queries. It can be deployed on-prem due to being open source or as a managed solution hosted by Grafana
High write throughput applications, time series data, messaging systems, recommendation engines, IoT
Monitoring, observability, IoT
Horizontally scalable with support for data partitioning, replication, and linear scalability as nodes are added
Apache Cassandra Overview
Apache Cassandra is a highly scalable, distributed, and decentralized NoSQL database designed to handle large amounts of data across many commodity servers. Originally created by Facebook, Cassandra is now an Apache Software Foundation project. Its primary focus is on providing high availability, fault tolerance, and linear scalability, making it a popular choice for applications with demanding workloads and low-latency requirements.
Grafana Mimir is an open-source software project that provides a scalable long-term storage solution for Prometheus. Started at Grafana Labs and announced in 2022, Grafana Mimir aims to become the most scalable and performant open-source time series database for metrics. The project incorporates the knowledge and experience gained by Grafana Labs engineers from running Grafana Enterprise Metrics and Grafana Cloud Metrics at massive scale.
Apache Cassandra for Time Series Data
Cassandra can be used for handling time series data due to its distributed architecture and support for time-based partitioning. Time series data can be efficiently stored and retrieved using partition keys based on time ranges, ensuring quick access to data points.
Mimir for Time Series Data
Grafana Mimir is well-suited for handling time series data, making it a suitable choice for scenarios involving metric storage and analysis. It provides long-term storage capabilities for Prometheus, a popular open-source monitoring and alerting system. With Grafana Mimir, users can store and query time series metrics over extended periods, allowing for historical analysis and trend detection. It is especially useful for applications that require scalable and performant storage of time series data for metrics monitoring and observability purposes.
Apache Cassandra Key Concepts
- Column Family: Similar to a table in a relational database, a column family is a collection of rows, each consisting of a key-value pair.
- Partition Key: A unique identifier used to distribute data across multiple nodes in the cluster, ensuring even distribution and fast data retrieval.
- Replication Factor: The number of copies of data stored across different nodes in the cluster to provide fault tolerance and high availability.
- Consistency Level: A configurable parameter that determines the trade-off between read/write performance and data consistency across the cluster.
Mimir Key Concepts
- Metrics: In Grafana Mimir, metrics represent the measurements or observations tracked over time. They can include various types of data, such as system metrics, application performance metrics, or sensor data.
- Long-term Storage: Grafana Mimir provides a storage solution specifically tailored for long-term retention of time series data, allowing users to store and query historical metrics over extended periods.
- Microservices: Grafana Mimir adopts a microservices-based architecture, where the system consists of multiple horizontally scalable microservices that can operate independently and in parallel.
Apache Cassandra Architecture
Cassandra uses a masterless, peer-to-peer architecture, in which all nodes are equal, and there is no single point of failure. This design ensures high availability and fault tolerance. Cassandra’s data model is a hybrid between a key-value and column-oriented system, where data is partitioned across nodes based on partition keys and stored in column families. Cassandra supports tunable consistency, allowing users to adjust the balance between data consistency and performance based on their specific needs.
Grafana Mimir adopts a microservices-based architecture, where the system comprises multiple horizontally scalable microservices. These microservices can operate independently and in parallel, allowing for efficient distribution of workload and scalability. Grafana Mimir’s components are compiled into a single binary, providing a unified and cohesive system. The architecture is designed to be highly available and multi-tenant, enabling multiple users and applications to utilize the database concurrently. This distributed architecture ensures scalability and resilience in handling large-scale metric storage and retrieval scenarios.
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Apache Cassandra Features
Cassandra can scale horizontally, adding nodes to the cluster to accommodate growing workloads and maintain consistent performance.
With no single point of failure and support for data replication, Cassandra ensures data is always accessible, even in the event of node failures.
Users can balance between data consistency and performance by adjusting consistency levels based on their application’s requirements.
Grafana Mimir is designed to scale horizontally, enabling the system to handle growing data volumes and increasing workloads. Its horizontally scalable microservices architecture allows for seamless expansion and improved performance.
Grafana Mimir provides high availability by ensuring redundancy and fault tolerance. It allows for replication and distribution of data across multiple nodes, ensuring data durability and continuous availability of stored metrics.
Grafana Mimir offers a dedicated solution for long-term storage of time series metrics. It provides efficient storage and retrieval mechanisms, allowing users to retain and analyze historical metric data over extended periods.
Apache Cassandra Use Cases
Messaging and Social Media Platforms
Cassandra’s high availability and low-latency make it suitable for messaging and social media applications that require fast, consistent access to user data.
IoT and Distributed Systems
With its ability to handle large amounts of data across distributed nodes, Cassandra is an excellent choice for IoT applications and other distributed systems that generate massive data streams.
Cassandra is a good fit for E-commerce use cases because it has the ability to support things like real-time inventory status and it’s architecture also allows for reduced latency by allowing region specific data to be closer to users.
Mimir Use Cases
Metrics Monitoring and Observability
Grafana Mimir is well-suited for monitoring and observability use cases. It enables the storage and analysis of time series metrics, allowing users to monitor the performance, health, and behavior of their systems and applications in real-time.
Long Term Metric Storage
With its focus on providing scalable long-term storage, Grafana Mimir is ideal for applications that require retaining and analyzing historical metric data over extended periods. It allows users to store and query large volumes of time series data generated by Prometheus.
Trend and anomaly detection
By using Mimir for storing long term historical data it can be useful for detecting trends in your metrics and also for comparing current metrics to historical data to detect outliers and anomalies
Apache Cassandra Pricing Model
Apache Cassandra is an open-source project, and there are no licensing fees associated with its use. However, costs can arise from hardware, hosting, and operational expenses when deploying a self-managed Cassandra cluster. Additionally, several managed Cassandra services, such as DataStax Astra and Amazon Keyspaces, offer different pricing models based on factors like data storage, request throughput, and support.
Mimir Pricing Model
Grafana Mimir is an open-source project, which means it is freely available for usage and does not require any licensing fees. Users can download the source code and deploy Grafana Mimir on their own infrastructure without incurring direct costs. However, it’s important to consider the operational costs associated with hosting and maintaining the database infrastructure.
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