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When Riak makes sense

over 2 years ago

If your data does not fit on a single server and demands a distributed database architecture, you should take a close look at Riak as a potential solution to your data availability issues. Getting distributed databases right is very difficult, and Riak was built to address the problem of data availability with as few trade-offs and downsides as possible.

Riak’s focus on availability makes it a good fit whenever downtime is unacceptable. No one can promise 100% uptime, but Riak is designed to survive network partitions and hardware failures that would significantly disrupt most databases. An exception to Riak’s high availability approach is the optional strong consistency feature, which can be applied on a selective basis.

A less-heralded feature of Riak is its predictable latency. Because its fundamental operations—read, write, and delete—do not involve complex data joins or locks, it services those requests promptly. Thanks to this capability, Riak is often selected as a data storage backend for data management software from a variety of paradigms, such as Datomic.

From the standpoint of the actual content of your data, Riak might also be a good choice if your data can be modeled as one of Riak’s currently available Data Types: flags, registers, counters, sets, or maps. These Data Types enable you to take advantage of Riak’s high availability approach while simplifying application development.