Apple buys into big data?

Apple wants fast data

apple buys into big data

Reports claim Apple has agreed to purchase FoundationDB, manufacturer of powerful future-focused databasing software, designed to support applications as service, online data and even big data solutions.

Big data?

“Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads,” the database firm’s site says.

The purchase is likely to have implications for Apple’s suite of online services, from iCloud to Pages, Numbers and Keynote; to its iTunes Connect and iTunes Match services and, presumably, within the much speculated upon Apple-branded version of Beats music streaming.

Apple’s new company has been on a mission to “provide data storage technology that frees engineers and companies to focus on problems other than building their data stack. To that end, FoundationDB is creating a new generation of database technology that combines the advantages of modern NoSQL databases with the power and reliability of ACID transactions.”


The solution can support a wide variety of data types, from SQL to documents and beyond, through use of open source layers.

FoundationDB relatively recently sourced $17 million in funding to support development of its platform for distributed storage that combines NoSQL with ACID transactions.

That’s a whistlestop tour of what the company has been developing since launch in 2012, but I imagine its roubust databasing technologies will be useful to Apple as it moves inexorably toward applying Big Data technologies across its product range. You can imagine many deployment scenarios:

Potential uses

Beats/iTunes music streaming: Imagine if Apple had the databasing chops to analyze people’s listening habits in order to deliver accurate and timely music and media recommendations? The company already does this with its Genius recommendation engine, but let’s be clear – this can only improve if it gets to handle more robust data sets, as FoundationDB promises to provide.

Apple Watch: As the Internet of Things generates a deluge of data, you’re going to need increasingly powerful analytic engines to both anonymize and draw useful actionable insights from that information.

Apple Pay, iCloud Services, Maps and Apple location services could also benfit from the acquisition. Not to mention (of course) use of the software to serve its back end iTunes Store systems and any future TV service the company plans.

You can’t underestimate the value of this purchase. Back in 2013, VAR Guy wrote: “FoundationDB's suitability for a wide range of deployments, from single hosts to private server clusters to public clouds, adds to its potential to disrupt the database ecosystem.”

Not only this, but the database is fast, durable and runs on everyday systems, so it’s cheap to deploy and to run. It’s the kind of power Apple will need to handle its B/OSS tasks, while also being capable of use within data analytics and Big Data analysis, potentially enabling Cupertino to glean useful and actionable insights on what its customers are doing.

Exciting stuff! So what’s Apple saying about the purchase? Not a lot, as per usual the company’s pegged up its boiler plate statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purposes or plans.”

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