Why exactly did Apple just buy FoundationDB -- the upstart NoSQL database provider?

Surely, it can't be to compete in the NoSQL database market. And I don't think Apple plans to disrupt Microsoft, Oracle and IBM DB2 in the traditional relational database market.

Core Technology

FoundationDB describes itself as "multi-model, meaning you can store many types of data all in a single database. All data is safely stored, distributed, and replicated in the Key-Value Store component, and new functionality, like our SQL Layer, is layered on top of its simple API."

FoundationDB says its technology combines the best of NoSQL with ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability). The ACID approach guarantees database transactions are processed reliably. 

Inside Apple's Cloud Services

Multiple companies offer NoSQL databases -- which are popular for running big data applications. Instead of competing with those offerings, I'm confident Apple will tuck FoundationDB into its own cloud services -- using the database to store and manage data for a next generation of Apple iTunes, Apple Store, Apple TV, iCloud and more. 

Remember: FoundationDB is designed to store "many types of data in a single database." Audio. Video. Customer records. Financial information. And the list goes on -- as does the list of the data types Apple's cloud now manages.

As an Apple customer, you may never see or touch FoundationDB as a product. But within Apple's cloud data centers, you can bet it will be one of the underlying engines driving Apple's cloud services forward...

Apple isn't commenting on the deal. 

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