RethinkDB. The end of the Beginning, not the End.

October 25, 2016

Posted in: opinion
Tagged: rethinkdb databases startups

Maybe you heard. The commercial entity behind RethinkDB will soon be no more.

The project will hopefully continue as community driven open source, although the details are unclear - the who and how has yet to be ironed out.

From my first encounter with the database it was clear that RethinkDB had something going on. A performant document oriented database had to be a given, yes. But the glorious admin UI, effortless clustering, and intuitive ReQL query language were lovely to see and use; the extensive documentation and examples, great to fall back on.

But, for all of this goodness it was, I think, the team - the people behind RethinkDB - that made the biggest impression. Their knowledge and their command of branding, marketing and community engagement, positioned RethinkDB as a database that was bound to succeed, or so I thought. Like many individuals and organizations I began to evaluate and deploy RethinkDB with my applications - and I have nothing but good to say about it.

So why the demise?

So far there haven’t been many details released and I’m keen to understand more as I’m sure many are. But I suppose the money ran out and the user community and acquisition rate didn’t merit additional investment. That’s usually the bones of it.

One missed opportunity - or nail in the coffin, depending on your viewpoint - was that at the time of the acquisition of Compose.io - a cloud database provider - by IBM in July 2015, RethinkDB was available via Compose.io. You could get started with a multiple node RethinkDB cluster just as easilly as setting up some shared hosting.

Post acquisition, IBM went on to integrate many of the Compose.io database services into their own up-and-coming Bluemix Cloud service, but RethinkDB was notably absent.

Whilst Compose.io continued to offer RethinkDB, I can’t help but think availabilty through Bluemix itself, could have been a springboard for growth.

I did ask IBM Bluemix about RethinkDB and was only told “it’s on the way”. Oddly, it didn’t show up in Bluemix until around the time RethinkDB announced they were shutting down as an organisation.

I don’t quite know what to make of that. At best it’s miserable timing.

But looking to the future.

Many of the engineering team I understand are now working with Stripe, and an element are also trying to kickstart RethinkDB into a community developed open source project.

If you want to get involved, check out the information here and complete the form. I have.

So it seems we are at the end of the beginning, but hopefully not the end of RethinkDB. As a RethinkDB fan and user, to the people behind the product and the community…

“Thank you and good luck.”

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