Apache Spark is a cluster computing platform designed to be fast and general-purpose.
On the speed side, Spark extends the popular MapReduce model to efficiently support more types of computations, including interactive queries and stream processing. Speed is important in processing large datasets, as it means the difference between exploring data interactively and waiting minutes or hours. One of the main features Spark offers for speed is the ability to run computations in memory, but the system is also more efficient than MapReduce for complex applications running on disk.
On the generality side, Spark is designed to cover a wide range of workloads that previously required separate distributed systems, including batch applications, iterative algorithms, interactive queries, and streaming. By supporting these workloads in the same engine, Spark makes it easy and inexpensive to combine different processing types, which is often necessary in production data analysis pipelines. In addition, it reduces the management burden of maintaining separate tools.
Spark is designed to be highly accessible, offering simple APIs in Python, Java, Scala, and SQL, and rich built-in libraries. It also integrates closely with other Big Data tools. In particular, Spark can run in Hadoop clusters and access any Hadoop data source, including Cassandra.