Basho interview

Riak 2.0 and the rise of NoSQL in the enterprise

Coman Hamilton
The Basho office in London

Basho’s new head of EMEA operations discusses the changing field of Big Data and the challenges that face databases in the near future.

Amid the recent launch of Riak 2.0 and a number of partnerships including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), Basho’s flagship NoSQL database has maintained a high profile in the Big Data field. Emmanuel “Manu” Marchal, Basho’s new head of EMEA operations, spoke to JAXenter about new partnerships, new clients and a new major release.

JAXenter: How do you see Riak’s role in the (rather crowded) field of Big Data, among competitors like Hortonworks? 

Manu Marchal: In the unstructured data world there are two separate segments – Hadoop and the technologies built around it for data warehousing and offline analysis and the NoSQL segment where the technologies are used in the real time production flow for product catalogues, user profiles and session stores, patient records, etc.

In the NoSQL space we distinguish ourselves by our ability to scale, by our high availability and our support for object storage and search in addition to NoSQL key value database capability.

Basho recently launched Riak Enterprise 2.0. Could you tell us a bit about the changes and where Basho is trying to push Riak forwards?

Riak 2.0 made life easier for developers and for operations. For developers we pair the strengths of Riak as a horizontally scalable, distributed database with the powerful full-text search functionality of Apache Solr. And we introduced additional CRDTs which I think of as pre-built data types that make it easy for developers to use data types like sets, registers, maps, flags and counters and come with pre-defined write conflict resolution.

SEE ALSO: Basho – the quietly impressive success of Riak

On the operations side there were improvements to the way we do configuration, some security integration and a capability called tiered storage where customers can have us automatically split data files across two mount points with differing performance traits (like SSD vs. HDD) based on access patterns to optimize for low latency of the most frequently accessed data.

We’ve heard that Riak has clients ranging from an Irish water management system to Angry Birds. Have you added new enterprises to that list? And are there any interesting use cases you can tell us about?

Yes, Basho has increased its number of customers in EMEA by 38 percent year on year. Use cases include gaming companies like bet365 who want to expand the number and types of betting options they make available, telecommunications companies for both internal operational support and external public cloud offerings and technology companies like who needed an architecture required to scale to millions of metrics being generated every minute for their infrastructure monitoring software for online services.

You recently entered into a partnership with Seagate and Lilien Systems. Have you already seen any first results here? And are there any forthcoming partnerships you can already tell us about? 

That partnership is very focused on enterprise storage. We supply the object storage software, Seagate is the supplier for the storage hardware and Lilien integrates it and sells it to its enterprise customers. I think you will see more cases where Riak and Riak CS are embedded in other solutions.

We continue to invest in our relationships with IBM, HP, Microsoft and Amazon. It takes a lot of work to make those types of partnerships work. You will also see others announced in 2015 as well.

What would you say is the most important changes that are taking place in the broader field of Big Data? 

For the NoSQL part of Big Data we are seeing it become more mainstream in the enterprise. Forrester estimates the current adoption of NoSQL to be at 20% and is likely to double by 2017. Initially the users were web scale companies, adoption has moved into IoT applications and critical applications that have large datasets and need very high availability. But, more and more enterprises see value in collecting more data even if they don’t know what to do with it today and they recognize that application availability reflects on their brand.

We also see enterprises moving from adopting NoSQL based on a developer bringing a particular technology in to support a project to making more strategic choices about their suppliers based on their ability to support multiple use cases and applications over time.

What do you think the main pain points of big data analytics that need to be addressed in future?

We see companies collecting and storing large amounts of data, but one of the upcoming challenges will be how to combine data from multiple sources into applications. There are lots of technology, business and privacy challenges to solve there.

And of course how you present Big Data in a way that business leaders can quickly understand and use it is still hard, but we are starting to see some interesting work and products that tackle that challenge.

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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