Redis Labs urges users to Rediscover Redis as a database at their virtualized conference

The big news at the event was a new partnership with Microsoft to add two new services around Enterprise tiers to Azure Cache for Redis, but the overarching message was users who use Redis for caching should consider it for databases too.

Rediscover Redis was the big theme of Redis Labs’ RedisConf 2020 Takeaway, being presented this year as a two-day virtual event courtesy of the pandemic. There was major news – a new partnership with Microsoft to expand Azure Cache for Redis with two new Enterprise tiers available as Azure services. There was illumination for the audience in the form of GA announcements of features which had been announced earlier, as well as some early stage previews. And running through it all was a very clear message, that while many customers still use Redis for caching, it is capable of handling their mission-critical database needs.

“Many people still consider Redis as a very good caching system and not as a database,” said Ofer Bengal, Redis Labs’ co founder and CEO, in the first virtual presentation of the conference. He suggested that Redis is partly to blame for this, that perhaps they have not done a good enough job exposing the community to the enhanced abilities added over the years.

“We want to focus on our abilities as a database,” Bengal stressed. “Redis has turned from being an effective caching layer into a powerful primary database.”

Bengal provided examples of database use cases, and called some of these use cases super-exciting. He noted that Moovit, a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solutions company that Intel paid $900 million for last week, has used Redis as a primary database for five years. A credit card company, which can’t be named publicly, uses Redis as a primary database for fraud detection and digital wallet. The process for checkout at the Gap runs on a Redis database. A communications company uses it to power their 911 service.

“I hope RedisConf will help you rediscover Redis and with so many embedded tools and capabilities, it can serve as your primary database for complex use cases,” Bengal stressed. “Lets Rediscover Redis together.”

After Salvadore Sanfilippo, the original creator of Redis Open Source, reviewed the features of its new 6.0 version, which was released two weeks ago, Alvin Richards, Redis Labs’ Chief Product Office, focused on the Redis Enterprise version. Like Bengal, Richards also emphasized the need to rethink Redis’ use case, and see it as a database rather than just a cache, even though he acknowledged most Redis users initially use it for caching.

“It’s time to stop thinking about Redis just as a cache,” he said. “Growth Happens, and Redis Enterprise gives extended functionality to extend use cases.” He emphasized that it solves the criteria necessary to use it as a database: authentication; encryption; global availability; and consistency.”

Richards formally announced the general availability of the updated Redis Enterprise 6.0, based on the Open Source version, but which goes further for enterprises.

The main feature here is the expansion of Access Control Lists [ACL], the ability to specify for a given set of keys what operations can be performed. That was in the Redis Open Source version.

“Layered on top of the Open Source is Redis Enterprise, and a layer above ACL for role-based access control,” he said. “That’s important to make it a robust database. It allows roles to be set up as required for compliance purposes.“

Richards said that now that Redis has role-based access control, people will want to configure them from outside the Redis cluster through Active Directory or LDAP. That’s what Redis is working on next, he indicated.

Richards also announced availability of other capabilities which Redis had announced earlier. Redis Enterprise 6.0 lets customers leverage CRDT-based Active-Active technology to read and write from Streams, which were first introduced in Redis 5 to guarantee stream sequence and scale stream processing across regions or instances.

“We have now created an application where you can process these streams in a globally distributed way,” Richards stated. We think this is going to be awesome.”

Richards also announced an early stage partnership around the secure enclave ecosystem with Anjuna and Azure, to allow solving in-memory encryption problem in a unique way.

“Data in-memory is now protected,” he said. “It’s now encrypted, which reduces the attack surface. All operations remain available. What this means is you don’t have to change any of your application code to take advantage of data being encrypted in use.”

Richards discussed RedisRaft, an early stage project to bring data consistency up to the same level as availability in Redis, leveraging the widely-used Raft consensus-based algorithm for replicated state machines.

“We are announcing that sometime early this summer, we will be open sourcing RedisRaft,” he said. “RedisRaft will provide strong consistency for a cluster of Redis servers.” He did emphasize however that this is nowhere near ready for production, and that Jepsen testing now is for the Open Source version, not Redis Enterprise.

General availability was also announced for RedisGears 1.0 and RedisAI.

The last item in the keynote was certainly not the least – a new partnership with Microsoft to deliver Redis Enterprise as two new, fully integrated tiers of Azure Cache for Redis.

“We work with CSPs to enhance their managed Redis services, and today I am very proud to announce a new partnership between Microsoft and Redis,” Bengal said. He introduced Julia Liuson, CVP Developer Division, Microsoft, who he termed the driving force behind this partnership.

“My team’s mission is to build tools and services developers love and use every day,” Liuson said. “Through our partnership, we want to make it easy for open source developers to work in Azure. This new partnership with Redis Labs demonstrates our commitment to open source companies.”

The service adds two new enterprise tiers – Enterprise and Enterprise SSD – on top of the current Azure Cache for Redis. Liuson emphasized that for developers who work with the current Azure Cache for Redis, the new tiers being built on top of it will provide familiarity.

“The Enterprise tiers will support all of the most stringent requirements around security and compliance,” Liuson said. “It will provide a simplified administration and billing experience, and simplified and streamlined support.” Redis Enterprise consumption becomes part of the customer’s monthly Azure bill, and support is to Microsoft first, with them pulling in Redis Labs as needed.

Liuson announced that the new Enterprise Tier service offering is available today in Private Preview.

“We are working hard for Public Preview this fall, and General Availability by Winter,” she said.