Ultimately, every problem in the constantly evolving IT software stack becomes a database problem, which is why there are 418 different databases and datastores in the DB Engines rankings and there are really only a handful of commercially viable operating systems.

But what if the operating system is the problem?

We are so used to thinking of the operating system as the foundation of the system that this kind of talk seems more weird than it does heresy, but make no mistake. When Michael Stonebraker and Matei Zaharia and a team of techies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University are involved in creating a new operating system, it is definitely going to be heresy.

Stonebraker says that the spark for the idea for DBOS, which is short for database operating system, came when he was listening to a talk by Zacharia, who among other things was the creator of the Spark in-memory database while at the AMPLab at the University of California Berkeley and the co-founder and chief technology officer of Databricks, which has commercialized Spark.

“This talk was at Stanford three and a half years ago,” Stonebraker tells The Next Platform. “And Matei said that Databricks was routinely orchestrating a million Spark subtasks on sizeable clouds and that Databricks had to keep track of scheduling a million things. He said that this can’t be done with traditional operating system scheduling, and so this was done out of a Postgres database. And then he started to whine that Postgres was too slow, and I told him we can do better than that.”

Stonebraker, who is an adjunct professor at MIT and a member of the vaunted CSAIL research team that has brought so many innovations to information technology, would know.

Like all of the other database pioneers from the late 1970s and early 1980s, Stonebraker read the early relational data model papers by IBMer Edgar Codd, and in 1973 started work on the Ingres database while at Berkeley, and created the Postgres follow-on to it. Stonebraker was chief technology officer at relational database maker Informix, was one of the researchers on the C-Store shared-nothing columnar database for data warehousing (which was eventually commercialized as Vertica), and was part of the team that created H-Store, a distributed, in-memory OLTP system (which was eventually commercialized as VoltDB). More recently, Stonebraker led an effort to create an array-based database called SciDB that was explicitly tuned for the needs of technical applications, which think in terms of arrays not tables as in the relational model.

So Zaharia saying that Postgres performance was poor was like calling Stonebraker’s child a bit slow. . . .

And rather than fight about it, Stonebraker and Zaharia teamed up to create an operating system based on a database rather than a database bolt on for an operating system.

To read the full article: The Cloud Outgrows Linux, And Sparks A New Operating System

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