Apple Acquires NoSQL Database Startup FoundationDB

Apple quiet on future plans; analyst says internal use of startup's database tech likely

Jason Verge

March 25, 2015

1 Min Read
Apple Acquires NoSQL Database Startup FoundationDB
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a 2014 event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple has acquired FoundationDB, a Virginia-based startup developing a NoSQL database, Tech Crunch reported. The reasons behind the acquisition aren’t immediately apparent. What is apparent is the increasingly growing role the database is playing in modern cloud services.

FoundationDB specializes in high-speed ACID-compliant transactions. "ACID" stands for Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability. It provides NoSQL and SQL access and is multi-model, meaning many types of data can be stored in a single database. It uses a distributed architecture that scales up and down and handles faults, while looking and acting like a single ACID database.

FoundationDB’s claims make it suitable for web apps, and Apple will potentially use it with some of its services like iMessage. Apple is not discussing its plans publicly.

FoundationDB has flown under the radar, though the company has raised a few rounds totaling over $20 million. Founded in 2009, its goal was to address the lack of transactional NoSQL database systems.

The startup is no longer offering downloads of its software, meaning potential headaches for early adopters. A commercial version of its database was released in 2013.

"FoundationDB has been popular by its capability to store any object given its key value store and then making it easy to access for mainstream DB developers with its SQL interface," Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said in an email. "It’s sad for the DB community that all external activity of FoundationDB will cease and to a certain point a mystery what Apple will be doing with the assets, but we expect an internal usage of the assets."

Apple has acquired 23 companies in the last 15 months.

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