NoSQL Vendor FoundationDB Improves Interoperability with SQL Layer

FoundationDB has announced general availability for SQL Layer, a SQL database engine powered by the FoundationDB key-value store.

The thinking is this, explained Dave Rosenthal, CEO of FoundationDB: Not many people know how to rebuild their whole architecture or their whole website to run on a key-value store and other NoSQL databases.  “Whether it is key-value store, or a document store or a graph store, it is pretty hard to understand how to take a Ruby on Rails application for example and make that run on the database. You would have to do a lot of custom coding.”

It has always been FoundationDB’s strategy to build an ecosystem of layers on top of its key-value engine and have those be compatible with existing data models and APIs that people know from the relational database world, said Rosenthal. The main value of the FoundationDB key-value store is to act as an engine for these layers, he noted, and with this introduction, the company is launching the first “layer” that starts to make this vision a reality.

The SQL Layer is a full ANSI SQL database that is compatible with existing tools and web frameworks and allows customers to also have the advantage of a fault-tolerant, scalable NoSQL- style distributed database.

While NoSQL started out as a “radical offshoot” in the database market, offering advantages in terms of scalability, fault tolerance, and price-performance, today, as with any technology as it matures, there is a consolidation of features and greater sophistication across the products, said Rosenthal.

As a result, many of the characteristics that were punted on early, like industrial-strength back-up, transactional guarantees, and strong consistency - the sorts of qualities that established database systems have had for years - are starting to be clawed back into the NoSQL systems, he added. “Having interfaces that are compatible with existing systems is the natural conclusion of that line of thinking.” And, increasingly, he said, CIOs and CTOs are wondering if these things are mutually exclusive. “I don’t think this is what CIOs and CTOs want and it is not technologically necessary to bifurcate them.”

By providing a familiar SQL interface, the new SQL Layer “reduces the barriers to adoption by orders of magnitude,” added Ori Herrnstadt, head of SQL Layer development at FoundationDB.

“It becomes an easy decision.”

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