Blog Post

How NoSQL database Riak makes Bump work

Database startup Basho on Tuesday released details of how its Riak NoSQL database underpins Bump, the popular mobile app that lets users exchange contact information by bumping their phones against each other. Bump is the seventh most-downloaded free iPhone (s aapl) app of all time — with more than 80 million downloads and 10 million active users — so it has a lot of data to store and transfer.

Where Riak comes is as the database that stores Bump user information and transfers it immediately to other users when they physically bump their phones. Here’s how Basho described its role in a press release:

Bump stores elements of current and past conversations, so communication history is readily accessible to users, enhancing the stickiness and user satisfaction of Bump.

… Riak ensures that the Bump application can be continually fed with information without the worry of a system fail. Bump stores 600-800 million pieces of structural data in Riak, including photos, chats and contact cards.

Mobile apps are actually a pretty big sweet spot for NoSQL databases because of the easily accessible and widely distributed natures of mobile apps. Lots of users, lots of semi-structured data and users’ expectations of immediate satisfaction mean mobile apps need fast, scalable and flexible databases.

Basho counts a number of mobile app developers among its users, and there a number of mobile apps, including free-SMS app Viber, using the MongoDB database. Couchbase has put a focus on syncing mobile-app data between devices and the cloud (although its has changed its strategy a bit since abandoning CouchDB earlier this year).

We’ll be talking a lot about both NoSQL and mobile data at our Structure:Data conference next month in New York, which features 10gen CEO Dwight Merriman and Wordnik Co-Founder Tony Tam, as well as a handful of experts on storing and analyzing mobile data.