Solar Orbit

An Amazon Dynamo-style foundation for distributed systems.



Amazon’s DynamoDB is a distributed system which is designed to be highly available and fault tolerant.

DynamoDB is a fast, fully managed NoSQL database service that makes it simple and cost-effective to store and retrieve any amount of data, and serve any level of request traffic. All data items are stored on Solid State Drives (SSDs), and are replicated across 3 Availability Zones for high availability and durability.


Basho’s Riak is inspired by Amazon’s dynamo paper, which details the fundamental concepts behind DynamoDB.

Riak is a distributed database designed for maximum availability: so long as your client can reach one server, it should be able to write data. In most failure scenarios the data you want to read should be available, albeit possibly stale.

The coolest part is how it is masterless. From relational to riak:

Riak uses a masterless system with no single point of failure, meaning any node can serve read or write requests. If a node experiences an outage, other nodes can continue to accept read and write requests. Additionally, if a node fails or becomes unavailable to the rest of the cluster due to a network partition, a neighboring node will take over responsibilities for the unavailable node. Once this node becomes available again, the neighboring node will pass over any updates through a process called “hinted handoff.” This is another way that Riak maintains availability and resilience even despite serious failure.

Status Quo

Currently, both Riak and Dynamo are focused on the storage of things. Basho not-so-recently released riak-core, which is intended to be a foundation to write distributed applications in erlang.

However, there are still leaks in the data structures for normal Riak present.

DynamoDB is not open source, but at least we have a paper that elegantly describes how the foundation works that I am interested in.


Solar Orbit is to be the riak-core for Haskell. It will be designed with significant influence from the sources of riak-core. A major difference will be that it will not be based on the erlang actor-model.