ClearVoice simplifies their scalable backend with Crate.IO

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  • Simple use and easy to maintain
  • SQLAlchemy integration for easy switch from MySQL
  • SQL simplifies developer interface to distributed system
  • Powerful fulltext search support

As ClearVoice was preparing for its launch in June, it was looking for a backend data store for its application. It had used MySQL as its development database, but since the amount of data being stored was about to grow immensely ClearVoice planned to de-normalize its data schema and store it in a distributed fashion, using MongoDB and Elasticsearch, Solr or another Lucene-based solution.

“We didn’t want to use a sharded and clustered MySQL database or Hadoop since maintaining it would have been labor intensive and use up our engineering resources”, says Jeff Nappi, ClearVoice’s Director of Engineering.

Jeff then stumbled upon Crate in Hacker News and decided to check it out, especially since ClearVoice was using the SQLAlchemy ORM for Python and that is an official Crate Python driver.

“I started looking at Crate and was impressed by the quality of the code. We submitted the pull request and got a response over the weekend. Switching from MySQL to Crate took a couple of days. Denormalizing the data was simple as we had already planned to flatten out the data beforehand and weren’t using many JOINs. It was very convenient to integrate Crate into our existing code base even though it was written into a different database”.

Jeff also mentions that the ability to use SQL as Crate’s interface language was an added benefit since SQL reduces the learning curve when developers need to interface with distributed systems and was much simpler than writing complex queries in JSON. “The fact that Crate uses SQL lowers the barriers to entry when using distributed search. And on top of that with Crate you get MongoDB and Elasticsearch in one scalable package.”

Today, the Crate.IO store holds 20 million records and is expected to grow into billions in the near future. Its primary function is the search index powering ClearVoice.