Basho Co-Founder Antony Falco has raised $3 million for Orchestrate.io, a database API similar to Twilio in its capability to ease the complexity of adding features to mobile and web applications. True Ventures led this initial round joined by Frontline Ventures and Resonant Venture Partners.
Falco, who left Basho a few months ago, said Orchestrate.io solves the problems that developers face when building feature-rich applications. Often it means adding multiple databases for geo-spatial, time series or any number of other features.
The database problem has been ongoing. It in part stems from the limits of scale with relational databases. Over the years, companies like Amazon and Google reached their own ceilings and were forced to develop new kinds of databases for high-volume queries. The result is a lot of time spent babysitting databases so the applications run well.
Orchestrate.io acts as a service on a service, abstracting the database layer. Twilio successfully simplified the way developers accessed services, such as SMS and voice. Falco sees a service that also allows developers to add features by pulling the data through an API . “The comparison with Twilio and Sendgrid is not around the problem we solve but the pattern,” Falco said in an email interview. “We are taking a complex and burdensome task — running lots of databases — and putting it behind an API that programmers can use to more quickly build apps. Twilio and Sendgrid both do a similar thing, vastly simplifying the complex, for telecom and email infrastructure, respectively.
Orchestrate.io uses in-memory technology for its service. “Memory — storing indexes and hot data in memory — will be critical to performance,” Falco said. “There are three tiers – the active data and indexes in memory, disk storage for durability and data less often accessed, and as data ages and becomes inactive, a cheaper tier of fault-tolerant storage. The more we serve reads out of the memory, the better our performance will be and, without a lot of latency, users will be able to execute relatively rich queries that might require three or four queries, made sequentially, to separate databases.”
Orchestrate.io is using open source databases to build the service. “We aren’t going to build databases,” Falco said. “The databases themselves can change; we are not tied to any one database. Riak (a Basho service) is of course ideal for this use case — for forming part of the foundation of this service. But other than that, we aren’t really tied to any one thing.”
The company will use multiple data centers for its service to help get the data as close as possible to the application and the user. That makes sense considering the potential performance issues that may come when a large enough group of users are using a service that is just in one place.
For example, an application may be installed in Amazon Web Services East region, and there might be a large number of users in London. Orchestrate will have a large enough data center footprint across different providers to accommodate users no matter their locations.
The interesting story for me is about the future of the database. The real gold is in the data, but it is like a pool of oil without a way to access it. Databases access the data, organize and make it available for query. It’s inefficient. And that’s just when a developer is dealing with one database. Add a few as the features build out and the developer faces a Rube Goldberg system. It’s about getting the work done, not herding cats in a data center.