Sunday, 5 April 2015

FoundationDB: A tale to envy with a sting in its tail

I've been watching FoundationDB for a while now, they've been very good at promoting themselves and have had a clear story. 

Fast, scalable, resilient ... and best of all, combining the merits of both SQL and NoSQL, you know, like Hovis.

Having raised USD 22M in two rounds, they have been bought by Apple for an undisclosed sum.


Here's the sting in the tail.

FoundationDB had in parts been open source. Here's the Git repo now: "This organization has no public repositories."

Not only that but all (including paid) downloads have been removed from the site. This is incredibly bad news for those dependent on it, given the likelihood that they'll need to move to something else. 

Even if they have a properly structured interface to their persistence (meaning that code changes are minimised), the fact that the data model is likely to be somewhat or wildly different to what it is in FoundationDB means the data migration is likely to be anything from a nuisance to extremely painful.

There are several lessons one can draw from this.

  1. Make sure your deployment stack is not a stove pipe and that pieces can be swapped in and out of it.
  2. Another way of saying that is - as far as you can minimise your hard dependencies (build to standards and abstractions)
  3. Be boring, don't reach for the newest shiniest things
  4. Check your licenses. Not only are you not necessarily free to use open source stuff for anything you like, you don't necessarily have any guarantee of ongoing access.


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