Dev

FoundationDB marries NoSQL & SQL with Akiban acquisition

Above: This is what databases used to look like

Image Credit: adesigna/Flickr
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FoundationDB has done it again, smashing NoSQL and SQL technologies together with a most strategic acquisition.

In a call yesterday, FoundationDB co-founder Nick Lavezzo bemoaned the technological dichotomy between NoSQL and SQL.

“The big story has always been to build a really strong bottom layer that can expose different data models, thus the name ‘FoundationDB’.” And the most important of those layers was SQL, which he called the Holy Grail on the team’s docket of things to do.

We’ve been spending more time building these layers, and on the docket of things to do, the holy grail has been SQL. It’s got a ton of adoption, but it’s been around for so long that it’s very featureful, and we knew it was going to be a multi-year project.

“Akiban was pursuing a similar vision, but from the front end,” he said. “They built a SQL database that was much faster, but their backend was not nearly as powerful or scaleable as FoundationDB.”

Akiban and FoundationDB then tested the waters of a partnership and found the fit was so perfect, the combination so powerful, that an acquisition was in order.

“They really impressed us, to see what they’ve built and what they’re building right now,” said Akiban co-founder and CTO Ori Herrnstadt during the call.

The background

Lavezzo and his cohorts started FoundationDB company after their previous startup, Visual Sciences was acquired by Omniture in 2008 for $394 million. That healthy exit gave them the cash to bootstrap FoundationDB, an idea that sprung up when the crew decided that the database market “needed some hep,” Lavezzo said.

“People thought it was impossible to build a strongly consistent distributed database, and we did it. … We announced our beta in February. We built a product that’s totally differentiated from other NoSQL databases. … But there are also a lot of engineers who like to think of their world in other data models, like SQL.”

Lavezzo continued to say that the Akiban acquisition and the whole premise of “blurring the lines between SQL and NoSQL” is a bit counterintuitive. But since most developers are at least somewhat familiar with SQL and since so many developer tools already integrate with SQL, the opportunity wasn’t one they could pass up.

“This will allow us to make those platforms compatible with our database,” he said. This is giving us a reach into a developer audience that thinks at a much higher level.”

And it’s a much larger audience, too, which gives FoundationDB broader reach in the market.

FoundationDB is based in Vienna, Virginia, and was founded in 2009. The startup took a small seed round in 2011 from Ron Conway’s SV Angel.

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