ShardingSphere pulls itself up ladder to top tier of Apache Software Foundation projects

Apache Software Foundation top level

Although it’s website still states otherwise, self-described big data middleware system Apache ShardingSphere has left the incubating realms behind and is now an Apache Software Foundation top-level project.

Although the project entered the incubator as a Java database connectivity (JDBC) driver for sharding in November 2018, its functionality has grown way beyond that, providing support for use cases ranging from the partitioning of data and distributed transactions, to database orchestration. In all of this, ShardingSphere aims to fully use the computation and storage capacity of the databases present in distributed systems, which is why it fits more into the middleware category than anything else. 

Today, ShardingSphere comprises Java framework Sharding-JDBC, database proxy Sharding-Proxy, and Kubernetes environment database agent Sharding-Sidecar, though the latter seems to only be a to-do list item at this stage. The basic idea behind the sidecar sub-project is to provide a mesh layer interacting with the database which is meant to be in charge of all forms of database access.

Getting this done right might however be essential to the project’s future: while the cloud native space is a highly competitive one, it also gets more interest than, say, ShardingSphere’s home turf, Java isomorphism. Good visibility in combination with a well thought out concept could help spur more interest as data storage is still seen as a bit tricky when it comes to cloud native. 

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Currently, ShardingSphere users and collaborators seem to be mainly hailing from a number of well-known Chinese companies, such as video sharing platform BiliBili or retailer JD.com. This could be down to easier communication with fellow native speakers, or the project’s Chinese roots at Dangdang Information Technology and what seems to be a newly found level of precaution with open source projects made in China. Especially when it comes to handling large amounts of data.

Of course this could all change with the new status, which also promises a good bit of promotion from the parent organisation. According to Von Gosling, creator of Apache RocketMQ and incubator mentor for ShardingSphere, the graduation of the project “is recognition of the focus and hard work of the project members to learn The Apache Way and drive community around ShardingSphere”. 

Getting to grips with the foundations’ modus operandi is no small feat, given that the organisation itself stated on its website that many of its members still have trouble grasping “The Apache Way” after two decades. Attempts to put it into words boil down to “community over code” and vendor neutrality, adding consensus decision making, participation of individuals not organisations, governance based on trust and delegated oversight, open communications, and influence based on merit when pushed for more details.

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