According to a report by TechCrunch, Apple has acquired database company FoundationDB. The company develops “scalable and fault tolerant databases that support multiple data models.”
The company has ceased to offer downloads of its database software, according to a notice put up on its website. Foundation DB is one of only a few company’s that provides NoSQL that offers true support for ACID transactions, and competes partially with Google Spanner. The company provides NoSQL services using a proprietary multi-model approach. Most database management systems are organized around a single data model that determines how data can be organized, stored, and manipulated. In contrast, a multi-model database is designed to support multiple data models against a single, integrated backend.
NoSQL has several applications, with the major one being the ability to store user profiles. As such, the acquisition of FoundationDB could help Apple improve the data stored by its iCloud and iTunes Store user-base, or even for maintaining databases for the ResearchKit platform. Beyond user-profiles, the company’s expertise in modern NoSQL databases and ACID transactions could also be deployed in other emerging applications such as for session store – which would include maintenance of a database comprising session information for users of web applications. NoSQL has emerged as one of the most efficient options for storing web-app session information. This can attributed to the key value storing properties of NoSQL databases, the unstructured data derived from session data is easier to store in a schema-less format. This attribute of NoSQL could help Apple streamline some aspects of its session data for the iCloud web apps.
Apple could also use FoundationDB’s NoSQL expertise to manage data generated by their own apps. Most of Apple’s apps have well over a million users, who require support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Large numbers of users combined with the dynamic nature of usage patterns is driving the need for more easily scalable database technology. With other technologies, it is a bit difficult, to get the dynamic scalability and level of scale needed, and this is where NoSQL could help Apple. NoSQL provides a much more flexible, schemaless data model that better maps to an application’s data organization and simplifies the interaction between the application and the database, resulting in less code to write, debug, and maintain.
I think that the fruits of this acquisition might manifest at Apple in more than one area of Apple’s business. I’m hoping that the first area to be touched upon is iCloud and Apple’s suite of web-apps for the service.