Interviews / Podcast / Technology /

The Problem with Too Many Databases

29 Apr 2015 9:26am, by

Antony Falco, CEO and co-founder of Orchestrate, joins his long-time Portland colleague Alex Williams, founder of The New Stack, for this TNS Analysts podcast episode. They discuss the evolution of query languages, the silicon graveyard of abandoned GitHub projects, and the growth of database as a service, especially as an accessory to the Internet of Things.

For more episodes, check out the podcast section of The New Stack.

Portland-based Orchestrate was acquired by CenturyLink Cloud this month. Alex cites the recent acquistion of Foundation DB and other moves in the database market, and asks Antony what all of this activity reflects.

“Overall, there’s consolidation in the market. Long ago, when there was an explosion of new databases, the prediction was that this market would consolidate. Investors said it was inevitable,” says Antony.

“They were thinking the companies were going to consolidate. What’s happening is: the queries are consolidating.”

He believes there are 35 to 40 databases in production that didn’t exist ten years ago. “People don’t want to run four or five different databases in production to build the typical interactive application,” Antony says, “They want to simplify their operational lives.”

“When you see companies like DataStax acquiring a graph database engine for Cassandra,” he says, “what they’re really doing is: they’re trying to bring all of the queries behind a single API.”

Orchestrate has more than 9,000 users, “ranging from Fortune 500s to students in Africa,” according to Antony. Those using Orchestrate to build applications deploy slightly more than two query types, on average, which means people are now building apps that require at least two or three databases. Anthony recalls that just a few years ago such cases would be rare outliers, but now developers and entrepreneurs are emulating those who have succeeded with this approach.

Alex notes that the complexity gets deeper with distributed architecture environments.

“There are some people who want it just to be a black box,” observes Antony. “As we move toward more and more services, to really capture the imaginations of the developers in the world, you’ve got to share with them how it’s built. We learned that one of the ways to get engagement was to pull back the curtain and show people what this distributed system was built like.”

“You’ve run the danger — if you simplify and you make something well-designed and easy-to-use — people will think there’s nothing sophisticated behind it,” says Antony.

“You’ve got to do a little bit of work to make the technology relatable to the engineer.”

Feature image courtesy of Luke Lefler.


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