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Fauna improves data API collaboration and security

A database company founded by former Twitter engineers is pushing forward its vision of a way to consume database as a service using its own Fauna Query Language.

Fauna on Nov. 23 made generally available new collaboration and security capabilities on its database platform.

The vendor, based in San Francisco, positions its database platform as a data API that provides developers with a transactional database for applications. Fauna is provided in a software as a service (SaaS) cloud model and doesn't require developers to provision any cloud database instances on their own.

In the new update, Fauna integrated enhanced team features to help organizations collaborate and share database information. Among the collaboration improvements is integration with third-party authentication providers.

Fauna is targeting the small and medium-sized business section of the database market, said Adam Ronthal, a research vice president at Gartner.

"They are focused on delivering capabilities of a globally distributed serverless DBMS at a price point and operational footprint that is accessible to organizations that do not necessarily have large budgets and deep IT organizations," Ronthal said.

Ronthal added that the new capabilities that Fauna is now introducing, such as third-party authentication integration, will make Fauna more production-ready and will be important as the vendor matures its product and customer base. 

The Fauna data API

The Fauna data API at its core provides a document-oriented data model to enable an operational database. Evan Weaver, co-founder and CTO of Fauna, said the data API concept is firmly rooted in an approach he and his co-founders used at Twitter.

Weaver was employee number 15 at Twitter, where he worked from 2008 until 2011 as director of infrastructure.

Fauna provides a GraphQL interface as well the company's own Fauna Query Language (FQL) for data queries. While GraphQL provides many capabilities, it doesn't do everything that modern developers need, Weaver said.

Weaver explained that FQL can enable users to perform more actions against the Fauna data API including creating indexes as well as executing user-defined functions.

"What FQL offers is a data model that goes farther than GraphQL does and also you can do full-blown declarative transactions with business logic," he said.

For those already familiar with development using GraphQL, Weaver said they can stick with GraphQL for Fauna. At the point at which the developer needs query capabilities beyond what can be done via GraphQL, they can start mixing in FQL in the same application alongside GraphQL, he said.

Screenshot of Fauna dashboard
The Fauna data API dashboard enables administrators to manage and add new users.

Fauna data API access gets more collaborative

Initially, it was more common for an individual developer to be using Fauna, said Eric Berg, CEO of Fauna.

That has changed over time and now Fauna is increasingly being using by teams within an organization. Previously, a single account was being shared within an organization.

Multiple users within an organization now can have an account. Going a step further, Fauna now supports role-based access control that enables an administrator to define the access levels of different developers within an organization to the Fauna data API.

Identity capabilities secure access

Collaboration improvements in the Fauna data API are also being enabled in part by security integrations.

They are focused on delivering capabilities of a globally distributed serverless DBMS at a price point and operational footprint that is accessible to organizations that do not necessarily have large budgets and deep IT organizations.
Adam RonthalResearch vice president, Gartner

Fauna now supports a pair of identity-related capabilities. One of them is support for multifactor authentication (MFA) on Fauna accounts. Berg noted that MFA provides an additional layer of protection for administering and getting access to a Fauna account.

The other security capability is integration with third-party identity providers. Berg noted that Fauna customers are building user-facing applications and wanted to have a third-party identity provider to handle login issues such as account registration and password resets. To that end, Fauna now provides integration with Okta and Auth0.

"So what they wanted is a standards-based integration between Okta or Auth0 as the identity provider and Fauna as the operational data store," Berg said.

Looking forward to 2021, Berg said Fauna will continue to build out enterprise features to help support larger organizations. Among those features are regulatory compliance and certifications including SOC2 and ISO 27001.

"We also have some really interesting things up our sleeves for our developer-facing query language to really continue to make it more functional and more approachable," Berg said.

Next Steps

How Fauna looks to advance serverless database technology

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