AWS on Air

Speaker: Srini Srinivasan, Chief Technology Officer and Founder, Aerospike

Jeff Maruschek: Hey everyone. My name is Jeff Maruschek. I am a senior solutions architect with AWS and you are here at AWS’s Silicon innovation day. And with us today, we have Aerospike and we have Srini with me. So Srini, go ahead and introduce yourself.

Srini Srinivasan: Oh, thank you, Jeff. I am Srini Srinivasan, CTO and founder of Aerospike. My background is in relational databases from a long time ago. I have a PhD in the field. I worked at IBM in my early days on basically DB2 and connecting it to the world wide web, that’s what we used to call the internet in those days. Following that, I basically started working on very highly scalable applications using database technology, first at interactive TV, then in the general internet, as well as a lot in mobile systems, at Yahoo, for example.

And during those years, I had discovered a lot of problems using traditional database technology to launch high scale read write applications on mobile technologies, on mobile systems, especially. And what that meant was we had to invent new database techniques as we started to deploy even more high-scale systems in the mobile area. As a result of all of these learnings, I got together with a colleague of mine and his name is Brian Bulkowski and we decided to start Aerospike in order to solve the problem for extremely performing high-scale real-time systems, which were required for various applications on the internet.

Jeff: All right. That sounds interesting. So tell us more about Aerospike, who are your customers?

Srini: When we started Aerospike, we essentially wanted to solve the real-time scale issues that applications were struggling with. What we did was we discovered technology with SSDs, which is kind of the topic today with Nitro. And this was in 2009. What we discovered was using flash-based storage, like SSDs, enabled us to provide more data per node, which can be accessed in real time. What this meant is we had increased the amount of real-time data that is stored on a per node basis. It’s no longer limited by just the DRAM. We also made sure that we didn’t use the DRAM as a scarce resource, which means we would store the index in DRAM and the data to be directly accessed out of SSDs. This resulted in us being able to reduce the server footprint for these kinds of applications, which handled terabytes and these days, up to a petabyte or more of data.

And all of this meant that Aerospike could be used by customers to solve some of the highest-scale applications out there. These are typically applications which are serving tens of millions to hundreds of millions, to even billions of users. And to give you an example, there are companies in the payment space like PayPal, for example, which use Aerospike for fraud detection. There are companies like Airtel, one of the largest telcos in India using Aerospike for a wide variety of real-time applications that are at tech companies like Cru, Nielsen, as well as The Trade Desk, which have seen enormous scale up of 10 X, or hundred X over the last 10 years, they are all using Aerospike to solve many of the real-time challenges.

Jeff: I can imagine with fraud detection, you have from the moment you hit complete order to when the order is complete, you need to have that done in a pretty quick timeframe. So I can see where latency would play a big part there. What have been some of the challenges that Aerospike has seen as you’re building this product out?

Srini: There are many challenges a startup has over the time it grows, but I’d like to focus on one of those challenges, which is really important for us to solve over the years. And that is about scaling up and keeping the system or the solution scalable at the rate or at faster than the rate our customers are growing. Think of a case where a single user is using a service. And then the billionth user comes to use a service, you want to provide the same level of low latency and the same quality of user experience with the billionth user that you are able to provide for the first user.

Jeff: Right.

Srini: And that’s in fact, a prerequisite to being a successful business, which is allowing users to access applications via the internet or mobile or whatever channels that you’re using. Everything is real-time as you know, these days. Now the challenge for Aerospike has been to continually improve our software, to build better algorithms, to use the advances of systems like SSDs, like the Nitro SSDs we’re talking about today and be able to harness the power of the hardware by writing our software in such a way that applications can now be run against these systems. Now, the advantages that you get out of running these systems at once again, the ability to handle a lot more data in real time with a strict SLA. For example, this in the fraud detection case that we just talked about, it’s important for the fraud score to be available before the transaction completes. If you don’t have the fraud score available before the transaction completes, then there are a lot of transactions which could be fraudulent, which might have to be clawed back later. It causes problems for the business in terms of losses and so on.

Jeff: Yeah. So you mentioned the AWS Nitro SSDs. How is Aerospike using those to alleviate some of these issues? And then on top of that, pass that on to the customers?

Srini: One of the great things about the Nitro SSDs is they improve the technology by another level, if you will. Essentially, when you have AWS instances that contain these Nitro SSDs, they have better characteristics in terms of predictable performance. So there is less variance in terms of latency at high throughput, as you access these SSDs.

Basically, the way Aerospike uses SSDs is through our patented hybrid memory architecture, where we are able to read data directly from the SSD itself. And that will essentially work better on Nitro SSDs than the previous generation of SSDs, because Nitro can actually handle higher throughput and can return the data with a more predictable latency. And what this means is when customers run applications, they can now scale these applications up without worrying about the user experience, so to speak, because you have a lot of users coming to your system, you have a big spike coming in. Then if you have a system based on instances that include Nitros in them, what you end up having is the ability to handle these spikes better with less variance, so to speak, which means there’ll be a much better user experience. And all of this I think helps make customers user experience really well. And this is what our customers essentially use for serving tens of millions to hundreds of millions consumers.

Jeff: Again, from that first customer, all the way to the billionth, you want the same user experience from the beginning. So Srini, tell us how can our viewers learn more about Aerospike?

Srini: For more information about Aerospike-

Jeff Maruschek: Perfect.

Srini: You can find that at, where you can check out our sandbox, you can write code, but you can also find access from there to the AWS Quick Start, which you can also use to try out Aerospike. And also watch for upcoming scale warrior meetups for developers that Aerospike runs from time to time. Thank you.

Jeff Maruschek: Cool. Srini, thank you for joining us for this episode of AWS on air and to all of our viewers, we hope you enjoy the rest of the AWS Silicon innovation day.

About this video

Chief Technology Officer & Founder Srini Srinivasan discusses Aerospike’s real-time data platform & how I4i instances on Nitro SSDs provide superior performance for customers. Watch the full video to hear more.