HBase vs Cassandra

The success of your app development process depends on the database management system at a greater level. More or less we all know that. But most of us get confused when it comes to choosing the best NoSQL database management system. And the confusion increases when the choices are HBase and Cassandra. You may say that it’s just like choosing the best one from a twin. Yes up to an extent both of these databases are identical. But they have some differences too.

Day by day the demand for proper data management is increasing in all the business areas. And that’s why now NoSQL databases seem the true saviors. NoSQL databases come with the right set of technologies that simply help us to meet the increasing volume, velocity, and variety of data management requirements. 

Today we at Vyrazu Labs have picked two Not only SQL gems to recognize the best one, no matter how much identical twins they seem! In the below sections, we are going to create a solid HBase vs Cassandra battlefield so that we all can recognize the best one easily. But before that, we will give you brief introductions of both of these gems. If you are already aware of them, you can directly jump into the battlefield. But if you are a beginner or want to read a complete guide, read all the sections of this much-awaited blog. 

Reasons to pick a NoSQL database

  • Able to manage a large volume of data irrespective of the data type
  • It easily scales up for large data volume
  • Comes with great memory and CPU capabilities
  • No strict limitation for cache dependent read and write operations
  • No database breakage
  • No RDBMS model in NoSQL options 

HBase: HBase vs Cassandra

Apache HBase is a great name when it comes to choosing a reliable NoSQL database in 2020. It runs on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDBS). Its operations run in real-time on its database instead of MapReduce jobs. This NoSQL database is divided into various tables and each table is split into many column families. Here in HBase, each key pair is known as a cell. And each cell consists of a column family, row-key, time-stamp, and column. Each row in the HBase is also a group of key mappings identified by the row-key. 

It works by storing data as the key/value. And it mainly supports 4 primary operations-

  • Adding or updating rows
  • Scans to retrieve a range of cells
  • Returns cells to a specific row
  • Deletes rows, columns, or column versions

Here versioning is also available so that fetching previous values of data can be easy and fast. Apart from this, it also includes tables. For tables and column families, the schema will be needed. But in the case of the column, there is no need for schema as the column includes counter functionality.

It works on multiple physical servers simultaneously. The servers may not operate together yet the operation will be performed smoothly. Generally, it uses two processes to ensure smooth operations such as-

Region Server- the term itself is making you understand that it is able to support various regions or record arrays. Regions or record arrays contain mainly 4 elements such as persistent storage, block cache, Memstore, and WAL. 

Master Server- we can call it the primary server of HBase. It is here to successfully maintain the region distribution across the region server. Apart from this, it also monitors the regions and manages ongoing tasks. 

In order to coordinate action between servers, HBase uses Apache ZooKeeper. Apache ZooKeeper is mainly a service for configuration and service sync management. 

Now it comes to focus on the advantages as well as disadvantages of HBase. Only from the structure definition or work process, recognizing a NoSQL database will be tough rather it will give us a vague idea. So, let’s take a glance at both of its advantages and drawbacks-


  • It is an amazing option for analytics especially in combination with Hadoop MapReduce
  • It can easily handle a very large volume of data
  • It supports scaling out in association with the Hadoop file system
  • It offers a free license 
  • There is no fixed schema so that you can design schema flexibly 
  • Auto sharding and auto-failover
  • Easy to understand rather a simple client interface 
  • Row-level atomicity 


  • Here you will get no transaction support
  • Single point of failure
  • And here JOINS get handled in the MapReduce layer

Cassandra: HBase vs Cassandra

When your concerns are constant availability, high scalability, smooth performance, operational simplicity, and standard security, you can choose Apache Cassandra without any doubt. It is a leading NoSQL option in 2020. It does not only provide the mentioned benefits but also it is a cost-effective solution. 

Cassandra comes with decentralized architecture and provides availability, partition, and tolerance from the CAP theorem. Here any node can perform any operation. According to experts, Cassandra is rich with single-row performance ability. And for the use case, there are required consistency semantics. Here we will get Cassandra quorum reads. These are needed for strong consistency and these are slower than HBase reads. It can be limited in certain use cases as it does not support range based row scans. It will be a good option for the single row queries or based on a column value index, selecting multiple rows. 

Many people choose Cassandra when it comes to creating reliable and scalable repositories of data arrays. These data arrays are known as a hash. Cassandra works with keyspace. It mainly aligns the concept of the database schema in the relational model. The main intention of the Cassandra architecture is to get a P2P distributed system. This system is mainly made of node clusters. In this way, a node will be able to accept the read or write requests. In the cluster, every node shares the state information about itself and other nodes pick the P2P gossip communication protocol. 

Cassandra also comes with a Log-Structured Merge storage engine. And the engine is consists of some key elements such as-

  • Memtable
  • SSTables
  • Commit Log
  • And Compaction 

Just like HBase, now are going to take a glance at the benefits and drawbacks of Cassandra. So that we can easily recognize the winner of the Cassandra vs HBase battle based on our requirements. 


  • Cassandra comes with flexible schema
  • It is also highly-scalable
  • Cassandra is highly available and there is no single point failure
  • It offers quality write throughput and read throughput 
  • It also supports search through secondary indexes 
  • Easy NoSQL column family implementation


  • Here is no proper support for ACID properties 
  • Cassandra offers no support for aggregates 
  • Latency us another headache
  • Sometimes JOINS can be an issue
  • High chances of data duplication
  • And slow reads 

Now we know the pros and cons of both HBase and Cassandra. Now it is the time to discuss which one will be the best choice or the winner of the HBase vs Cassandra battle. At the very beginning, we have mentioned in many ways they look similar like a twin. But after an extent, they have solid differences. We are going to discuss both similarities and differences so that we all can easily pick the winner of the HBase vs Cassandra battle after this blog. 

In order to understand all these better or to make the HBase vs Cassandra battlefield easy to understand, we are presenting the similarities and differences in a table format. So, let’s understand the table-

HBase vs Cassandra: The War begins

Subject HBase Cassandra 

Database: Cassandra vs HBaseHBase is a NoSQL open-source database. HBase is able to handle a solid amount of data. The data can include images, audio, videos, etc. Just like HBase, Cassandra is also a NoSQL open-source database. It is also able to manage a wide range of data sets. Here the non-relational data can include videos, audios, photos, etc.  

Scalability: Cassandra vs HBaseHbase comes with a great rather a high liner scalability feature. This feature mainly helps the users to handle more data and for that, the user only needs to increase the number of nodes in the cluster. In Cassandra, the scalability feature is also the same. It also offers high scalability and users can manage added data just by increasing the number of nodes in the cluster. So we can say that both options are good when the main concern is scalability. 
Replication: Cassandra vs HBaseIn Hbase, there is protection for data loss. And it can be set through the replication mode. The data that is written on a node that gets replicated on multiple modes available there in the cluster. So, it will not be a matter to worry if a node fails. When it comes to replication, Cassandra provides the same experience. Here the replication process is similar and there is no worry if a single node fails to perform. 
Coding: Cassandra vs HBase We have already mentioned that HBase is a column-oriented NoSQL database. Here columns are center storage units in a database. So, you can add columns here according to your requirements. Cassandra is another column-oriented database and has a similar writing path like HBase.  Here also users will be able to add columns according to their requirements. Apart from this, the right way also starts with logging, so we can stay worry-free that it will definitely offer the desired durability. 

Data models: HBase vs CassandraWe can say that Cassandra’s column is like HBase’s cell. The column family has a strong similarity with Hbase’s table. 
But there is a difference too and that is HBase comes with only one column row-key. And the developers need to take the responsibility of the row-key design. 
But when it comes to Cassandra, we can say that it allows only a primary key and that primary key consists of multiple columns. 
Architecture: HBase vs Cassandra The Hbase comes with a master-based architecture. In a simpler tone, we can say that HBase has a single failure point. 
Here the client communicates with the slave-server directly even without contacting the master. HBase only supports data management. 
The Cassandra comes with a master-less architecture. Cassandra does not have any single failure point. Cassandra supports both data storage and management accordingly. 
Read and Write Capability: HBase vs Cassandra Read and write capabilities directly give an idea of its performance quality. Both of the databases when they are on-server write paths nearly in the same way. But HBase does not write log and cache simultaneously. 
If your concern is fast as well as a consistent read, we will suggest you go with HBase. You know that at a time, it writes only on one server, so there’s no need for other node’s data versions. 
In some ways here Cassandra performs a bit better. It comes with the right data structure names and performs the rest job simultaneously. 
Cassandra is able to handle 129,000 reads just in one second but those reads are targeted and they can also be inconsistent. 
Security: HBase vs CassandraWe know that both of these options offer standard security up to an extent. HBase goes some miles extra and offers cell-vele access to its users. Cassandra offers row-level access. It also sets users’ roles along with conditions. 
Infrastructure: HBase vs CassandraHBase comes with the Hadoop infrastructure. This infrastructure comes with some moving elements such as Zookeeper, HBase master, date nodes, and name. But when it comes to Cassandra, we can say that here we will get different structures as well as infrastructures. Cassandra also uses an additional database management system. The structure of Cassandra is based on a single node structure type. 
Support: HBase vs CassandraHere we can say that HBase does not support the ordered partitioning. Cassandra supports the ordered partitioning. Here the partitioning leads make the row size the 10s of megabytes. 
Nodes: HBase vs CassandraIn HBase, we will find several master nodes. These nodes are there mainly for monitoring as well as coordinating actions of region servers. But when it comes to Cassandra, we have to accept nodes as seed nodes. These seeds are there to act as the points for inter-cluster communications. 
Internode communication: HBase vs Cassandra Both of the databases have internode communication. HBase uses the Zookeeper protocol. Cassandra uses the Gossip protocol. 
Transactions: HBase vs CassandraWhen it comes to transactions, we can say that HBase mainly works with two types of mechanisms such as Check and Put and Read Check Delete. Cassandra comes with a lightweight transaction feature. Here also we see several types of mechanisms such as Row-Level Write Isolation and Compare and Set. 
Documentation: HBase vs Cassandra According to experts, HBase is not able to offer the desired smoothness while documentation. Experts say that Cassandra is able to offer smooth rather better documentation experience than HBase. And that’s why Cassandra also seems easy to work on as well as learn at the same time. 
Query Language: HBase vs Cassandra According to experts and active users, HBase’s query language is not as rich as Cassandra’s. Cassandra’s query language is very specific in comparison with HBase. 

We know that after having a glance at the table of similarities and differences, now it’s hard to declare the winner of the Cassandra vs HBase battle. Both seem good options to use. In this way, declaring the best one will be tough. So, let’s know which one to use when so that based on our requirements we can understand the best pick for us. 

According to experts, the HBase and Cassandra use cases can differ from each other based on the application type and outcome expectation.

If you work with a huge batch processing and MapReduce and also you need a good consistency for the large scale reads, choosing the HBase will be the best decision. 

HBase use case examples- online log analytics, support the apps that need a large volume, write-heavy applications, and so on. 

If your task requires the high availability of large scale reads you can use Cassandra. Cassandra also needs a little setup and there is little to zero administration task with stunning flexibility. 

Cassandra use case examples- messaging system development, real-time sensor data management, e-commerce website development. 

So, lastly, we can say that in order to perform aggregations and analyze big data, HBase will be the best option. If your main concerns are interactive data emphasizing and real-time data transactions, using Cassandra will be the ideal choice.

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