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High Demand and Salaries for Apache Cassandra, Other NoSQL Skills

The years-long Big Data skills shortage still persists despite numerous attempts to alleviate it, resulting in high demand and high salaries for developers with NoSQL skills, especially Apache Cassandra.

Cassandra is an open source project in the NoSQL family and is the bedrock for the commercial Big Data platform sold by DataStax.

Speaking to the aforementioned high salaries, Cassandra comes in at No. 2 in a recent ranking of technologies that pay the most published by careers site Dice.com.

In that report, the average 2015 salary for Cassandra skills was $147,811, second only to SAP's HANA (High Performance Analytical Appliance). General NoSQL skills were 13th, at $130,290, with other NoSQL databases such as MongoDB also making the list.

Dice's list of top paying skills includes:

Skill Category Salary
HANA Databases $154,749
Cassandra Databases $147,811
Cloudera Cloud $142,835
PaaS Cloud $140,894
OpenStack Cloud $138,579
CloudStack Cloud $138,095
Chef Programming Language $136,850
Pig Big Data $132,850
MapReduce Big Data $131,563
Puppet Programming Language $131,121

Furthermore, a brand-new study by DataStax, the cloud database vendor with a platform based on open source Cassandra technology, sheds further light on the high demand for NoSQL skills in general and Cassandra specifically.

"Apache Cassandra is becoming even more important for engineers to understand and be able to use," DataStax said today in publicizing its research. "73 percent of survey respondents agreed that Apache Cassandra is critical to their job function. Of this group, nearly 60 percent said Apache Cassandra was not critical to their job six months ago."

Note that "this group" of respondents comes from the polled audience consisting only of some 250 members of the DataStax Academy, a program for teaching Apache Cassandra skills along with training on the use of its own DataStax Enterprise offering. DataStax also promotes its academy as a resource to close the skills gap highlighted by its own research.

Not that the skills gap isn't real. Report after report reinforce the findings, such as recent studies pointing to a low adoption rate of Big Data initiatives caused by the skills shortage.

The demand for Cassandra skills is nothing new, either, as it was also No. 2 in a Dice report on top paying salaries for 2013, where its reported average salary of $112,382 trailed only the R programming language.

Cassandra also fared well in a recent ranking of databases by DB-Engines, where it trailed only Oracle and MongoDB in the race to be named Database of the Year, a coronation bestowed on the product that demonstrated the highest percentage increase in popularity. "Cassandra gained 32.2 scoring points in 2015, which secured the third place," DB-Engines said. "Cassandra was already in the top three in 2013 and is steadily gaining popularity as the leading wide column store at rank 8 in the overall ranking."

As noted, in the DB-Engine rankings segmentation, Cassandra was listed as the most popular "wide column store" database. "Wide column stores, also called extensible record stores, store data in records with an ability to hold very large numbers of dynamic columns," DB-Engines explained. "Since the column names as well as the record keys are not fixed, and since a record can have billions of columns, wide column stores can be seen as two-dimensional key-value stores. Wide column stores share the characteristic of being schema-free with document stores, however the implementation is very different."

Apache Cassandra
[Click on image for larger view.] Apache Cassandra (source: DataStax)

The Web site for the open source Apache Cassandra project explains more about the technology, which originated at Facebook, based on Amazon's Dynamo and Google's BigTable. "Linear scalability and proven fault-tolerance on commodity hardware or cloud infrastructure make it the perfect platform for mission-critical data," the site says. "Cassandra's support for replicating across multiple datacenters is best-in-class, providing lower latency for your users and the peace of mind of knowing that you can survive regional outages."

Those attributes help explain the high demand for the technology and NoSQL skills in general shown by the DataStax survey. "Only eight percent of respondents believe the current pool of skilled NoSQL experts is enough for the demand in the DBMS industry," DataStax reported. "More than a quarter of respondents held existing certifications in Hadoop, MongoDB, SQL Server and Oracle, but felt it was necessary to receive additional training/certification in Apache Cassandra."

Unsurprisingly, DataStax offered its academy as the solution to that problem. "As today's modern applications drive new data management requirements, it's clear through the survey results that the expertise and skills required for today's developers, administrators and architects is also changing," said academy exec Christian Hasker. "DataStax Academy helps address the widespread adoption of Apache Cassandra and DataStax Enterprise, as well as the increasing importance placed on NoSQL expertise, by offering free self-paced courses and removing costly training programs as an obstacle to learning."

Despite numerous existing opportunities, the need for more such training -- recognized for years now -- was emphasized by research organization Gartner Inc., whose findings in the report Bridging the Strategy Gap for Big Data Adoption were quoted by DataStax. "Skills shortages remain a challenge and searches for 'qualified data scientists' have become project impediments," Gartner said. "Many organizations said that service providers didn't have the industry depth and related business process skills. In many cases, the skills were outside an organization's region, and the organization found it difficult to transfer them to its operations. Some of these organizations decided to 'go it alone' and then discovered that they faced multiple challenges in addition to a steep learning curve."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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