Clouding up

Riak is taking its S3 cloud storage software even higher

Coman Hamilton

The database pros behind Riak tell us about the latest update to their CS cloud storage solution

We all know it as a NoSQL database. But not so many
know Riak as a cloud server. Basho, the company behind Riak’s
database, has brought out a shiny new version of its cloud storage
solution, Riak CS

Basho’s cloud project, which
open-sourced last year
, is just one of a few cloud services out
there – so what exactly is it that makes it so special? JAXenter
talked to Basho’s Director of Global Marketing, Jeremy Hill about
the highlights of their Amazon S3 clone.

What’s new Riak CS 1.5

Part of Basho’s focus in its new cloud service is on
building on its Amazon S3 compatiblity, which includes features
like multi-object delete, put object copy and cache control

“Riak CS 1.5  has an expanded Amazon S3
compatibility which makes it easy for customers who have experience
with S3 public cloud to deploy and leverage Riak for private cloud
and hybrid cloud use cases,” Hill tells us. “It also provides a
technical preview which shows customers when clusters are
approaching 1 petabyte. Our approach is to deploy and support large
multi-cluster deployments.”

To improve its upload process, Riak breaks any file
uploaded to its storage API into smaller (1MB) blocks across the
underlying Riak cluster. Each of these chunks is then replicated
three times to make sure it never gets lost.

Riak as a database

Riak CS is built on top of company’s flagship product,
Riak, a decentralised key/value store NoSQL database.

Of course, Riak also isn’t the only one fighting to
get ahead in the buzz of NoSQL. And for the most part, hype is
directed towards rivals like MongoDB and Datastax’s key-value store
Cassandra. But the truth is, comparing Riak to other NoSQL
databases is kind of unfair, because it’s so different. Some
commentators might argue that while Riak can’t compete with Mongo’s
availability, Mongo can’t match Riak’s consistency. But Riak claims
their database is actually “almost impossible to kill” and that
high availability is one of its key Aspects.

Hill explained what it is about Basho’s database that
makes it special, when compared to other NoSQL services. In
essence, Riak is “a highly available, high performance platform
that scales horizontally with support for both key value store and
object storage.

“Customers like Temetra, the most widely used meter
management system for water in Ireland, have said that it handles
equipment failure so seamlessly, the only way they can tell if a
failure has occurred is by checking the log files.”

The reason for this lies in the nature of Riak’s
distributed system, Hill explains. When a node fails (for instance
because of a disk or network error), a neighbouring node will
automatically jump in with its own replica. Then when the node
comes back online, Riak will automatically restore data from the
failed node.

“Riak is a masterless, distributed database platform
which was designed with the knowledge that equipment failures can
and do happen and therefore builds in redundancy at every

It’s not only Irish water metering systems that have
taken a noted interest in Riak. Finnish mobile games designer Rovio
have also made prominent
use of Riak’s database
to make sense of the deluge of
information pouring from their Angry Bird app users. Basho also
claims that a third of Fortune 50 enterprises use their distributed
database and cloud storage software.

Scaling up (and back down again)

Beyond the use of NoSQL, what is it about Riak that
makes it scale?

“Riak was built from the ground up as a distributed
system,” says Hill. “As requirements grow, it can scale easily by
simply adding additional nodes. Workload and storage are
automatically distributed amongst all the nodes in the cluster – as
a result performance and storage capacity scale in a linear

But the reverse is also true, Hill explains. “If your
requirements are elastic, then you can vary the number of nodes in
use.” And that means that as the load falls, so too do the costs in
a cloud environment.

Last year, Basho unveiled a technical
of Riak 2.0, which is scheduled to feature goodies like
data types for simpler application developer, as well as the option
of strong consistency for buckets. It looks like we can expect to
hear plenty more about their database and cloud solutions in the
near future.

Coman Hamilton
Before becoming Editor of (S&S Media Group), Coman completed an M.A. in Cultural Studies and wrote for numerous websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies. // Want to submit a story? Get me at coman[AT] or
comments powered by Disqus