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People to Watch 2019

Evan Weaver
CEO and Co-Founder
FaunaDB

Evan Weaver is the co-founder and CEO of Fauna, creators of the distributed relational database FaunaDB. Fauna has raised $30 million to deliver global transactional data in the cloud to customers big and small, including Capital One and NVIDIA.

Before Fauna, Evan was Director of Infrastructure at Twitter, where he was employee number 15. Along with Matt Freels, CTO, and other members of Fauna’s engineering team, he built the scalable data systems that still power Twitter to this day. Evan holds an M.S. in Computer Science and also worked at CNET and SAP. After spending a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, he now lives in Boston.

Datanami: Evan, you claim to have “cracked the code” for distributed global transactionality in a single database with FaunaDB. When will the proof be published?

Evan Weaver: FaunaDB is based on couple of proven algorithms – specifically Raft, which is widely used, and Calvin, which came from research done by our advisor, Dr. Daniel Abadi, and his students at Yale. However, it’s one thing to demonstrate the theoretical soundness of a distributed algorithm; it’s another to implement it in industrial-strength software.

All our code is from scratch and we have extended and enhanced the underlying algorithms to work well in the public cloud at scale. Validating this requires thorough, hostile, real-world testing, similar to penetration testing for security. We’ve completed testing that shows FaunaDB reaches levels of high availability that no other database can reach, such as resilience to clock skew, and we will be releasing an independent analysis in the next few months.

Datanami: Some of your NoSQL competitors say that ACID is overrated. What are your thoughts on that?

They criticize what they cannot do.

An entire generation of architects have been educated by NoSQL vendors to believe that application logic should “handle” data consistency because their own products can’t deliver it. But there’s nothing good about corrupt data. Businesses suffer from high operational costs, poor customer experiences, and lost revenue.

Global transactional databases like FaunaDB deliver the correctness of the traditional relational database with the scale and flexibility of the cloud. The time for compromise is over.

Datanami: The industry has shifted to demand hybrid and multi-cloud implementations of big data applications and database. Is it just a happenstance that this is FaundaDB’s strong suite?

We drew FaunaDB’s operational principles from our experience at Twitter. We assumed that everybody would want a scalable, portable database, just like we did. It took a little while but now everybody does.

Multi-cloud is really about portability–not relying on a single vendor for your hardware and your software. The history of our industry is a series of shifts from non-portable to portable platforms. AWS is the new Oracle, selling you a proprietary mainframe you can never leave. But customers are escaping to portable systems like Kubernetes, Snowflake, and FaunaDB that give them the benefit of cloud economics without the infrastructure lock-in.

Datanami: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you share about yourself that your colleagues might be surprised to learn – any unique hobbies or stories?

I studied English literature (mostly modernist poetry) and philosophy (mostly the philosophy of mind) as an undergrad, along with computer science. I narrowly passed up an alternative career as a poet to do this tech thing.

At Twitter, I once delivered Oprah’s tweets “by hand” with a script on my laptop to make sure a live TV taping went smoothly.

 

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