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Always known for its power, Apache Cassandra has never been the easiest database platform to learn. As colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reported last week, a recent survey of over a thousand Cassandra practitioners revealed the lack of skills has continued being a hurdle. Specifically, 36 percent of practitioners cited a lack of skilled staff as the chief obstacle to Cassandra adoption.

DataStax already runs developer workshops, online developer learning and certification programs, and claims 30,000 developers have attended these events this year alone. Nonetheless, they are launching a more focused training and certification program with systems integrators and consulting partners. The new Fast 100 program consists of a pair of structured online courses, combining streamlined recorded content with live "Office Hours" sessions for questioning the experts, and capped by a certification exam. At launch, the program will have two streams: one is aimed at developers while the other targets administrators.

The program is free to qualified applicants. The goal is training practitioners in partnering consulting organizations, which could be as large as a global systems integrator or a one-person shop. It came out as a byproduct of online workshops that DataStax has conducted, this being a more focused approach to getting practitioners past the certification line. Deloitte Consulting LLP, Expero Inc., and Anant Corp. have already signed on.

While, in this COVID age, content is delivered online, this is not simply a series of streaming videos that are meant to be viewed anytime on demand. Instead, the structuring of the course is something of a hybrid – it can be completed in as little as a week, but could be stretched out up to a month, subject to student and instructor availability. As noted, availability is limited to those who qualify as bona fide database professionals. Because this is a free course, but also requires DataStax to invest resources, prospects wanting to sign up will be vetted.

Fast 100 is part of a series of efforts by DataStax to lower the barriers to working with Cassandra. Among them, the release earlier this year of Astra, the managed DataStax Enterprise managed cloud database service that simplifies operation and setup; Vector, for applying machine learning for predictive and prescriptive help in operation; Stargate, for opening access to Cassandra to the larger community of JSON developers; and working with the community to define a standard Kubernetes operator.

We still have a few things on our wish list to make Cassandra easier to pick up. Among them, we'd like to see more intuitive developer tools, and along the lines of Vector, which harnesses ML to aid administrators, we'd like to see similar approaches for helping developers optimize schema design and layout. Nonetheless, making certification more accessible is a useful step forward to expanding the talent pool.