Barracuda Networks’ Journey to Apache Cassandra – TechCrunch


By Aaron Morton, Field CTO, DataStax

If you ask Barracuda Networks CTO Fleming Shi about the state of enterprise security today, he’ll tell you it’s really about tomorrow.

“Being secure now is really about the future, and embracing innovation that’s coming from scientists, engineers, and researchers to make sure we’re staying on the journey with our customers,” Shi says.

The cutting-edge protection that Barracuda’s 200,000 customers rely on is a cloud-based threat intelligence network that ingests massive amounts of threat data from millions of global connection points. To help provide businesses with a view of relevant threats and enable them to stave off security issues in real-time around the globe with this kind of data volume, Barracuda is betting on the highly scalable, distributed open source database Apache Cassandra.

From MySQL to NoSQL

Barracuda’s journey to Cassandra started over a decade ago, when the company focused on selling virtual appliances for threat protection. Shi, who joined Barracuda in 2004 as director of engineering, says each machine was connected to a central nervous system for updates on the latest threats and behavior patterns; the underlying database technology was MySQL.

“When I joined Barracuda Networks, we loved using MySQL. It was the glory days of the LAMP stack,” he says. But as Shi and his team started building a cloud-based security service, they needed a data architecture that could support the company’s widening global remit. MySQL’s asynchronous approach to data replication created significant latencies when Barracuda needed to quickly synchronize threat information from one global region to another.

The NoSQL standard database Cassandra, with its distributed capabilities, solved the problem.

“When we detect a particular threat and determine the best response, that response is kept in the database,” he says. “And when it’s needed in another region, with Cassandra we can easily sync over that decision. That level of efficiency, leveraging accelerated operational logic, makes our threat protection solutions more effective with high volumes of data, because we are looking at billions of emails and handling millions of file scans every day.”

Shi points to Barracuda’s Advanced Threat Protection microservice as a good example of how his company takes advantage of Cassandra’s strengths. The service scans files and links for malware at very high speeds, and performs a host of dynamic analytics.

“When you have so much data coming in, you have a very small window to make a response determination. Once you make that determination, you want to make it available to other regions quickly,” he says. “That’s why we use Cassandra.

“It’s the most scalable, available database perfect for fast writes,” Shi adds. “Our database cannot go down. Email would stop. Threat detection would stop. Our business would stop.”

The hunt for multi-region

After Barracuda adopted Cassandra in 2013, Shi realized his team needed to dedicate manpower to update, maintain, and manage the database. He wanted his engineers to spend their time on what they do best, rather than updating Cassandra instances in data centers around the world. Cassandra is the world’s most scalable database, but it still requires expertise, purpose-built tools, and support.

“It became clearer to me, if I want to focus our engineers’ effort on what Barracuda is really good at—protecting customers with the cybersecurity solutions that we’re developing—it’s best to find a way to have someone else manage our Cassandra cluster.”

But the search was a challenge in and of itself. Shi says his team hunted for literally years for a managed Cassandra service provider that could support multi-region deployments. This was a critical capability that would enable Barracuda to reduce latency across its ever-expanding customer base.

When data traffic travels across global regions, it can also travel through several network routers, which slows the data flows. Multi-region databases enable enterprises to replicate data to users’ regions, enabling them to deliver responsive customer experiences—and, in Barracuda’s case, timely protection for its users.

“Imagine having hundreds of thousands of customers running physical appliances, virtual appliances, or SaaS solutions that we offer in their neighborhoods or local network environments,” Shi says. “All those devices and workloads require threat response decisions to be made, which shouldn’t be limited by replication capabilities. Making one decision quickly serviceable to millions of people throughout the overall Barracuda ecosystem is critical to how we protect our customers.”

DataStax’s introduction of its multi-region serverless database-as-a-service built on Cassandra earlier this year was good news to Shi and his team; Barracuda began its migration to DataStax Astra DB in July. The company is now fully in production with its Advanced Threat Detection service on Astra DB, Shi says.

“With the data backend supported by Astra DB, I can easily tell leadership, ‘If we need it, we can have it in minutes. And if we see growth, we will double down, we will expand in minutes’,” Shi says. “As a result, days and weeks of considering software upgrades, making sure the rest of the clusters are running the same version—all those questions go away, because I can entrust DataStax to help us with the data platform we need.”

Want to learn more about DataStax Astra DB, built on Apache Cassandra? Sign up for a free demo.

Italian expression of the day: ‘Fare la Cassandra’


You’re looking on as your neighbour climbs a ladder to do some jobs on their roof, but you notice they’re laden down with tools and objects. They’re wobbling unsteadily as they climb – and those steps don’t look overly secure anyway.

Up they go and you can already picture the flashing ambulance lights as they slip and flail all the way down to the bottom.

You want to express your concern for things going badly, as it’s just obvious to you that they will, but you don’t want to fare la Cassandra about it.

Non vorrei proprio fare la Cassandra, ma sei sicuro che la scala sia stabile?

I really don’t want to be a doom-monger, but are you sure that ladder’s stable?

Non voglio essere la Cassandra, ma questo non è di buon auspicio.

I don’t want to be a Debbie downer, but this doesn’t bode well.

So, being a Cassandra (either fare la Cassandra or essere la Cassandra works), is a rhetorical device to mean you predict or foretell disastrous and dramatic events or misfortunes without being believed. In other words, you’re an ignored prophet of (accurate) ominous happenings.

The phrase has its origins in Greek mythology – Cassandra was a beautiful young woman with the power to make prophecies, which were not believed.

She was the daughter of Priam, King of Troy and she was so captivating that even the god Apollo himself fell in love with her. To woo her, Apollo gave her the power of prophecy. He was the god of prophecy too, actually – as well as music, art and poetry.

The young Trojan princess, however, refused Apollo’s romantic advances, who, in response, took revenge by condemning her to predict terrible events without ever being believed.

‘To be a Cassandra’ therefore means to predict unpleasant situations, but for nobody to give you the time of day when you tell them that falling piece of rock is going to hit them on the head.

You can use the phrase to show you don’t want to be negative, but that you foresee problems. In this sense, it’s a bit like the English phrase, ‘rain on your parade’.

Senza voler fare la Cassandra, credo comunque che tu abbia ancora una lunga strada da fare.

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I still think you have a very long way to go.

It’s even the namesake of a syndrome. In the field of psychology, the Cassandra syndrome is defined as the condition of those who have an overly pessimistic view of future events, whether these concern themselves or other people.

This leads to constantly predicting misfortunes for oneself or others.

Such a fatalistic view of the world can be irritating. If someone is always predicting the worst case scenario, you can tell them to stop being such a Cassandra about it.

Non fare la Cassandra.

Don’t be such a doomsayer/a Debbie downer.

So don’t be a negative Nelly, or a calamitous Cassandra, get learning this phrase and it’ll all work out just fine.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

Shop Small With This Trio Of Talent Including CassandraCollections, Prissy Stems & PW King Abstract Art


Talent runs in this family and today Steph and Rosie invited Cassandra King Polidori, her sister Priscilla King and their mother Patty King to share a bit about their businesses and how you can shop small with thoughtful gifts this holiday season.


Cassandra King Polidori is the Founder and Designer behind CassandraCollections jewelry. Originally an editor in the magazine industry, Cassandra’s idea for her jewelry collection started out of necessity: she couldn’t type her story assignments in the cocktail rings she owned. She designed her first ring using wire, since it was malleable, which suited her needs at work and in her daily life. After being stopped enough around town by people asking who designed her ring, the custom orders started coming in and CassandraCollections was born.

Cassandra’s inspiration is taken from her everyday life. The idea behind her most recent collection, “Back to Basics,” came to her when her daughter started to learn basic shapes. Her intricate pearl and gold Mask Chain Necklaces were designed with (and for) her mother, an essential worker during the pandemic. Her Floral Designs came to her when she was pregnant – the concept of her budding baby evoked her desire to create whimsical pieces using silk flowers interwoven with natural stones.

Made with ethically sourced stones and recycled metals, collectors of these unique pieces can wear them proudly. CassandraCollections jewelry makes any outfit a standout one and is always a conversation starter.

Instagram @CassandraCollections


 Prissy Stems

As many did during the pandemic, Prissy Stems owner Priscilla King, “Prissy,” became lockdown-plant obsessed. While all of her windows and surfaces became filled with beautiful greenery, the other not-so-bright corners started to look drab. Prissy decided to brighten up these spaces with flowers; and since store-bought bouquets aren’t her style, her floral arranging began! These arrangements were quickly noticed by friends and family and the orders commenced. These gorgeous arrangements are available for delivery in the Austin area and neighboring cities for a small fee. Order your Christmas arrangements today!

Instagram @prissystems

Phone (512) 588-4322

PWKing Abstract Art

Patty began painting in 2011 on Mother’s Day, when she was awakened by a dream in which she heard her mother (who was an artist herself) say, “Honey, you need to paint!” The dream was so compelling that she did exactly that, purchased supplies and painted! Patty is a mixed media artist, working primarily with acrylic on canvas and paper. Prior to 2011, she was an avid black and white photographer, so creativity has always been in her blood. As a young girl, Patty was intrigued, as so many people of her generation, by many of the Post War Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, the de Koonigs, and Jasper Johns. That intrigue and her mother’s voice in her dream brought her love for creating abstract art alive! Patty is available for commissioned pieces of all shapes and sizes.

Patricia King

Commissioned Abstract artist

Instagram @pwkingabstract

Phone (512) 466-1954

Bene Skin & Laser

Instagram: @bene_austin


Bene Skin & Laser is a skincare specialty spa centered around a focused range of services, offering treatments that are both relaxing and clinical. Facials combine high tech modalities with holistic rejuvenating techniques. Hydrafacials, chemical peels, and laser hair removal in a space that is warm, friendly, and welcoming to all. Bene is owned and operated by licensed esthetician and laser hair removal professional, Trisha Lewis. She opened Bene this past summer bringing fifteen years of experience as an esthetician and seven years as a small business owner to help bring her vision to life with Bene.

Bene was in many ways born from the pandemic-related shutdown of 2020. The forced downtime allowed for some much needed self-reflection and led to the desire to realign herself with her core values. A pandemic-friendly trip to Big Bend provided the perfect inspiration to help her launch her new spa.

Discount Code: STU512

Discount Amount: 25% OFF


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