Apple's FoundationDB takes new Record Layer open source, confirms tech underpins CloudKit

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Apple database arm FoundationDB on Monday announced the open source release of FoundationDB Record Layer, a relational database management technology that powers CloudKit.

Explained in a post to the official FoundationDB blog, FoundationDB Record Layer provides schema management, indexing facilities and query capabilities to the eponymous distributed datastore.

Beyond features commonly found in a relational database, Record Layer offers support for complex nested data types, indexes on the commit-time of records and indexes and queries that span different types of records, FoudationDB says. As a layer built on FoundationDB, the open source release incorporates ACID semantics and transactional semantics, the latter of which allows for a massive distributed datastore.

Record Layers is stateless, which allows for highly scalable implementations and speedy functionality. According to FoundationDB, database instantiation and subsequent operation can be performed in "milliseconds."

Apple acquired FoundationDB in 2015, taking the scalable NoSQL, ACID-compliant architecture in-house for previously undisclosed purposes. Reports at the time suggested the database software would be used as a basis for Apple's various cloud services, including iCloud and iTunes content management.

Today's announcement confirms FoundationDB and Record Layer act as a foundation for CloudKit. An accompanying white paper details Apple's integration, as well as additional nuances of Record Layer's underlying technology.

The open sourcing of Record Layer represents the second such release from Apple's distributed database subsidiary. In 2018, Apple released FoundationDB as an open source project, hoping to build a community around the scalable system.