This week, Orchestrate launched an API to allow management of multiple databases via a single API and interface. Cofounder and CEO of Orchestrate Antony Falco spoke with ProgrammableWeb about the growth of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) and why Orchestrate is a game changer for both app developers and the enterprise.
"We have learned there is a big hole in industrial-grade Database-as-a-Service," Falco told ProgrammableWeb. "We took the best NoSQL databases out there and added an orchestration level. [The Orchestrate API] doesn't change that the NoSQL databases are each optimized for their workload."
Manage multiple databases with a single API
Falco explained: "As a developer, if you use NoSQL databases, the data starts to leak out fairly quickly: you could easily end up with 19 different places where customer data sits within a small business, for example. Orchestrate provides a single place where you can manage your data. This solves many data-proliferation problems, such as who has rights to use it. You can manage a uniform level of compliance, for example."
In a proof-of-concept presentation last year at the Portland Incubator Experiment's Demo Day, Orchestrate COO Matt Heitzenroder demonstrated the database headaches facing app developers. In just one app -- for example, Klout -- the data architecture involves five databases all running to support queries and remix data so as to push the types of contextual responses that create an end app user's personalized experience. Falco added an example of "an app that reads your Twitter account and searches among your friends and friends-of-friends to find who has tweeted they prefer soy milk in their coffee in a specific location.... You would need to run multiple NoSQL databases [for this query], and there are many things that could go wrong."
IMAGE: Still grab from PIE Demo Day YouTube video
Solving an enterprise database dilemma
Orchestrate initially chose to focus on providing the multiple-database-via-single-API service to support new-market entrants and start-ups looking to solve their database complexity from the get go but have quickly discovered that "there is a lot of pent-up demand already existing in the market" for this type of service. Falco cited examples, including existing apps and mobile services without the resources to add a full text search to a product catalog, as well as an enterprise that has been trying to build a social graph for years. In fact, 20% of Orchestrate's public beta customers are already doing more than 1,000 operations per second across their databases. Now, with Orchestrate's API public launch, any enterprise or start-up can immediately begin using it to manage their data architecture and get a global view of the data they collect.
The API allows users to run ad hoc, event, time-ordered, graph, and full text searches. Falco promises, "We know there will be extensions to the API; for example, we will add geospatial searches fairly quickly, [and] we will be able to add SQL queries in the future."
"Profound shift in software development"
Falco and his team see Orchestrate as realizing the promise of the composable enterprise. Instead of companies needing to spend resources on maintaining multiple databases, the "money that used to go to bespoke services can now go to adding more features." By making DBaaS a modular service that can manage an app's multiple databases and even connect to Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service systems, companies can focus on the end-user experience and product and service innovation rather than database management.
Falco calls it a "profound shift in software development." He gives the example that when a business' data assets are all able to be channeled by one API and viewed through one interface, new ideas for querying and connecting data emerge, providing opportunities for businesses to identify new products and services that can be developed. "Once we break down those data silos, it allows data assets to be combined in different query types. This happens relatively quickly.... Overnight, one of our customers was able to see how to run search queries that help them better understand and enhance the virality of their product, for example."
The Orchestrate API allows for data exportation with no lock-in requirements. It is a JSON interface and uses standards-compliant, data-security protocols. Now that it is in public access, new users are able to use the DBaaS API offering for up to one million queries per month at no cost, with pricing levels introduced for heavier use or to access more customer-support features.
By Mark Boyd. Mark is a freelance writer focusing on how we use technology to connect and interact. He writes regularly about API business models, open data, smart cities, Quantified Self, and e-commerce. He can be contacted via e-mail, on Twitter, or on Google+.