Apple has just released a new open source project on Github. FoundationDB is described as “a distributed database designed to handle large volumes of structured data across clusters of commodity servers”. The database system is focused on performance, scalability and fault-tolerance. Meaning projects that use the database for their backend are faster and less expensive to maintain.

FoundationDB was originally founded in 2009 by Dave Rosenthal, Dave Scherer and Nick Lavezzo with the goal of making a NoSQL database that was ACID compliant, a set of properties for databases that are designed to guarantee the integrity of data even when errors occur.

Apple acquired the company in early 2015 and has probably been using it for their iCloud services for the past couple of years. In a recent paper describing how CloudKit works, engineers mentioned the usage of a NoSQL database to allow app developers to sync user data between devices in a generic and easy-to-use way. CloudKit is Apple’s cloud database behind many of iCloud’s features including iOS backups, Photos, iWork sharing and iCloud Drive.

Open-sourcing the project means that it’s now free for any person or company to use. Apple’s goal is to build a community around the project and make FoundationDB the foundation for the next generation of distributed databases. Being open-source will also allow outsiders to contribute to the project, indirectly contributing to making Apple’s services more secure and reliable for users.

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Guilherme Rambo

I solve Apple’s mysteries for @9to5mac.