TL; DR: NuoDB’s distributed SQL database is an enterprise-ready solution that offers the same on-demand scalability as the cloud. The platform-agnostic innovation is capable of running in private and public cloud environments as well as on-premises. With customer-centric development and strategies for forging strategic partnerships, the NuoDB team will continue to help enterprise organizations solve some of today’s most complex database challenges.
Despite the buzz around FinTech, the financial services industry has garnered a reputation for lagging behind others when it comes to tech adoption.
It’s easy to see why: The sector is complex and among the most regulated worldwide. In some cases, FinTech firms must deal with laws governing where they can store information. At the same time, the industry must offer seamless performance when dealing with massive numbers of transactions — after all, a single crash could have a devastating financial impact.
Still, today’s customers demand innovations that will make it easier and more cost-effective to manage and transfer money, get financial advice, and purchase insurance, among other business actions.
To deliver such solutions in a scalable and reliable manner, developers in FinTech (and beyond) must seek solutions that meet critical technical capabilities as they move to the cloud. These include providing the scalability and elasticity to meet fluctuations in demand and support high-frequency online transaction processing (OLTP).
NuoDB, the provider of a cloud-native distributed SQL database, is on a mission to meet those requirements. Until recently, implementing scalable architecture meant working with a NoSQL database, losing out on the benefits of traditional relational databases, or leveraging legacy database architecture that relies on sharding and explicit replication.
By swapping outdated and inherently limited databases with NuoDB’s seamless scalability, continuous availability, and transactional consistency, the company empowers developers to build SQL mission-critical applications that meet the needs of today’s consumers.
“High availability and uptime rates are the top benefits that NuoDB delivers to businesses,” said Ariff Kassam, CTO at NuoDB. “In today’s world of instant access and always-on services, the database must always be available.”
In addition to remaining up and running despite failures and outages, NuoDB enables operators to increase performance and throughput simply by adding nodes. It also provides the flexibility to run on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid cloud environments.
Moving forward, the company’s customer-centric development and strategies for forging strategic partnerships will help NuoDB continue to solve some of today’s most complex database challenges, preventing organizations from holding back their business operations and app development.
Built by Visionaries in the Distributed SQL Space
“NuoDB was founded more than 10 years ago by Barry Morris and Jim Starkey based on a simple idea: Traditional SQL databases don’t scale well beyond a single system,” Ariff said. “The original goal was to build a SQL database that scales easily (by adding more systems) and provides uninterrupted access when systems are removed.”
Despite the fact that Barry and Jim are pioneers in the database industry and shepherded NuoDB through its early years, it took a significant amount of hard work and time to build a database from the ground up. By April 9, 2012, the company released a Beta version of the database before releasing NuoDB 1.0 on January 15, 2013.
“At about the same time NuoDB was started, NoSQL databases — also created to address the performance and availability challenges of traditional SQL databases — were becoming popular,” Ariff said. “However, to improve performance and availability, NoSQL databases relaxed consistency requirements (CAP theorem), ACID compliance, and rigid schemas, and also moved away from the SQL language.”
Ariff said Barry and Jim didn’t believe it was a good idea to sacrifice consistency or the SQL language. They felt organizations needed a horizontally scalable SQL database instead. Today, most NoSQL databases provide some level of SQL compatibility and basic transactional capabilities, but they still fail to address the lack of consistency.
“That is why we are now seeing new startups providing what is referred to as distributed SQL capabilities,” he said. “The fact that NuoDB has been providing a distributed SQL solution since inception says something about the vision of our founders, our technology, and our team.”
Supporting Cloud-Based Digital Transformations
Today, more than a decade since the company’s founding, the NuoDB team has observed several shifts in the distributed SQL and relational database space. The biggest, Ariff said, was the move to distributed computing spurred by increased adoption of the cloud and related technologies. As more companies began to move their systems to the cloud, providers worked to ensure their operations could support large-scale systems.
“This led to technologies like containers, container orchestration systems, and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines,” Ariff said. “The shift to distributed architectures has impacted all levels of system architecture, including the database.”
With this shift, traditional SQL database vendors had to add workarounds or add-ons to stay relevant.
But NuoDB’s fundamental architecture remained the same, and the company’s original mission — building a solution that meets the needs of financial services organizations moving their mission-critical applications to the cloud — continues to serve as its primary differentiator.
“For our customers, I think that the fact that we’re a distributed database and still SQL is what attracts and retains them,” Ariff said. “Even today, people still don’t quite believe that we’re truly distributed and still provide ACID compliance. So essentially, the fact that we do what we set out to do is really what defines us today.”
Customer-Centric Development from Seasoned Professionals
According to the team at NuoDB, the database industry has reached a unique inflection point where the cloud, containers, microservices, and the general drive for innovation have created a significant demand for new database technologies.
“Some of the newer social or web-based enterprises, such as Netflix, already have almost all of their applications in the cloud,” Ariff said. “However, traditional enterprises with significant technical debt have only moved a small portion. Right now, those organizations are looking for a low-risk way to adopt newer technology, and NuoDB is uniquely positioned to provide that because of how we were built.”
To move to the cloud or distributed environments, these conventional enterprises need an SQL relational database management system (RDBMS), such as NuoDB, that behaves like a traditional SQL database but is built on modern architecture and technologies.
Ariff said that NuoDB’s success relies heavily on the company’s ability to develop the product using a customer-centric approach.
“We’re singularly focused on our customers,” he said. “Since we have a good mix of traditional, complex enterprises as well as newer FinTech startups, we’re always balancing the need to adopt new technologies against iterating on existing capabilities.”
Ariff credits the NuoDB team for rising to the challenge every day.
“When you are building something as hard as a distributed SQL database, a lot of people contribute to your success,” he said. “We value those contributions and all the people who have grown and learned with us along the way.”
New: A Partnership with Rancher Labs to Further FinTech
The future is bright for NuoDB.
During KubeCon North America 2019, the company announced a partnership with Rancher Labs, the industry’s most adopted Kubernetes management solution, to help Hong Kong FinTech company WeLab establish a virtual bank.
The partnership will provide the infrastructure needed for WeLab to revolutionize the banking experience for local customers.
“We’re excited that we can help challenger banks leverage the power of Kubernetes to deploy stateful SQL applications in and across clouds,” Ariff said.
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