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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Benefits of Real-Time NoSQL with Srini Srinivasan, Aerospike and Russ Sullivan, AlchemyDB

September 25, 2012 No Comments

There is no doubt that running online systems in “real time” has many benefits.

In the below interview, Srini Srinivasan and Russ Sullivan outline these benefits and explain how utilizing lightweight analytics in real time can benefit your organization.

    Q. What, in your opinion, are the most prominent benefits of running online systems in “real-time”?

A. Russ: Real-time largely eliminates the need to architect the data path that pre-aggregates historical data and feeds this pre-aggregated data into the live frontend. When you have real-time data, it is dynamic and up-to-date; it is a reflection of right now, not a hope that today will be what happened yesterday.

A. Srini: Real-time systems that are always running provide enterprises a way to keep track of their customers’ up-to-date activities. Having the best and latest information about customers makes it possible to build high-vitality applications to satisfy these users. Examples of such applications abound in the areas of real-time advertising, social networking, and what-if scenario analysis based on latest data, just to name a few.

    Q. What role does cross data center replication play in all of this?

A. Russ: Cross center data replication is the only method for keeping a system up and running in the event of catastrophic failures. It is the extreme version of high availability. Every node can fail, and a node can be thought of as a single machine, a rack of machines, an Amazon EC2 availability zone, a datacenter, and in the most extreme case a set of data centers on a continent. Ensuring 5 9’s (99.999%) uptime across the world requires cross center data replication.

A. Srini: In today’s environment, business continuity planning (BCP) is a requirement for mission-critical applications like those that are being run on our Aerospike database. Cross data center replication provides a great way for companies to have BCP with minimal effort. It is important for the database to solve all of the hard problems of data being synced across a remote wide-area network (WAN), so IT organizations can focus on their own application development. Cross data center replication done right provides the assurance that IT professionals can sleep at night knowing that their business is secure no matter what kind of failure occurs.

    Q. What industries are most affected by real-time NoSQL?

A. Russ: Real-time NoSQL affects any industry that is running customer-facing applications at Web-scale. This would include ad-tech, gaming, financial services, telecommunications, utilities, and any other business with big data that needs non-trivial responses and does not have 100 developers to get it done.

A. Srini: Essentially, it is for any business that needs to keep abreast of the latest data and services and depends on real-time information.

    Q. How are Aerospike and AlchemyDB working together to succeed where others have failed, and create “light weight analytics in real-time”?

A. Russ: Aerospike is a proven, horizontally scalable high-speed lightweight data layer. AlchemyDB represents an incredibly rich data-model and a highly flexible query API. AlchemyDB is being incrementally built on top of Aerospike in a manner that retains Aerospike’s scalability first and foremost. We have made a clear and informed decision as to who is leading the dance. Any other approach would sacrifice scalability for data model richness, and we are a Web-scale shop that will support data model richness as long as we can guarantee scalability. It is a fundamentally sound approach to scaling.

A. Srini: The beauty of this approach is that, together Aerospike and AlchemyDB can quickly achieve the goal of providing a rich set of database features with the level of performance and scalability customary to NoSQL solutions.

    Q. How will the recent launch of your community edition NoSQL database support your reputation for being “predictable and reliable” across the industry?

A. Russ: With Aerospike’s Community release, it’s now trivial to download and stress test the Aerospike server. Nothing talks louder than seeing predictable and reliable performance for your specific use case. We encourage people to test and compare us against our competitors and validate these claims themselves, and you can do it in 10 minutes.

A. Srini: Aerospike has been continuously in production for mission-critical use for over 2 years with 100% uptime. Our customers have been able to run their service through network faults and machine failures, and they have doubled (or even quadruple) their installed capacities without any interruption in service. Now, Aerospike Community Edition allows everyone to experience Aerospike’s performance (at limited database and cluster sizes) for free. This will help us to service a wider market, and we believe that some of these new customers will create innovative applications using Aerospike. When such applications become wildly successful, they will have a seamless way to scale up to the enterprise edition without missing a beat.


Srini SrinivasanSrini V. Srinivasan
Srini V. Srinivasan, Aerospike founder and vice president of engineering and operations brings 20-plus years of experience in designing, developing and operating Web-scale infrastructures, and he holds over a dozen patents in database, Internet, mobile, and distributed system technologies. Srini co-founded Aerospike to solve the scaling problems he experienced with Oracle databases at Yahoo! where, as senior director of engineering, he had global responsibility for the development, deployment and 24×7 operations of Yahoo!’s mobile products, in use by tens of millions of users. Srini joined Yahoo! as part of the Verdisoft acquisition, where as vice president of engineering, he oversaw the development of high-performance data synchronization products for mobile users. Srini also was chief architect of IBM’s DB2 Internet products, and he served as senior architect of digital TV products at Liberate Technologies.

Aerospike_RussRussell Sullivan
Russell Sullivan, Aerospike’s principal engineer and performance guru, is leading the integration of AlchemyDB capabilities into the Aerospike real-time NoSQL database and further enhancing its performance. An expert in high-performance and distributed systems, he was the founder and developer of AlchemyDB, an ultra high velocity open source database and the first database to combine SQL, NoSQL key-value store, document store, and GraphDB. Prior to founding AlchemyDB, Russell was a principal engineer of the Makara platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which was acquired by RedHat. He served as vice president of engineering and operations with, one of the largest and fastest growing dating sites in the world with 100 million members. He also served as a software architect at Lycos Europe, senior software engineer at 24/7 Real Media, and software programmer at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

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