Zero-admin, no single-point-of-failure, scalable NoSQL Data-Store in Ruby
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What is it?

Monotable aims to provide a reliable distributed key-value data store, intended primarily for storing large numbers of small files. Monotable is implemented in a combination of Ruby and C.

Current status

Monotable is in "proof-of-concept" stage, in which we are translating our design on paper into a working prototype.


Why another data store?

Given that there are plenty of good data stores, why undertake writing another one? Our primary goals are:

  • Store approximately a petabyte of data
  • Store billions of records
  • Store binary records (files) 10kB-10mB
  • Flexible administration, indexing, replication, and growth

The ecosystem of existing data stores offered no clear winners.

Why Ruby?

Systems languages reign supreme for implementing a data store, so Ruby is an uncommon language choice. Here are the pros and cons for choosing ruby:

  • Pros
    • Ruby is a productive language. Ease of use translates to fewer bugs and quicker development.
    • A data store will ideally be disk or network IO bound, which narrows the performance disparity between systems languages and higher-level languages such as Ruby.
    • Ruby has excellent network daemon support in the form of EventMachine.
  • Cons
    • The official ruby interpreter (MRI) has some notable performance limitations, including a non-generational garbage collector and a global interpreter lock (GIL), which prevents truly simultaneous execution. How to overcome it: There are alternative ruby interpreters which are not subject to these limitations, such as JRuby and Rubinius.
    • The high level nature of ruby means it will be significantly slower for lower level operations. How to overcome it: For insurmountable CPU performance bottlenecks in Ruby, break out of ruby down to C, using RubyInline or external libraries with FFI.

Why is it called "Monotable"?

It is a "table" in that it has a primary key sort, like many other databases. It is "mono" in that it only has one primary key sort. Multiple tables can be logically created by namespacing keys. To be clear, though it is a single table, it can span a large number of machines.

What do you mean by "flexible"?

From the client's perspective, a data store should appear to be "one giant disk". To best satisfy this requirement, a data store will need the following:

  • Adding a node to the cluster should just require starting a single daemon and pointing it to an existing cluster.
  • Removing a node should be as simple as turning it off.
  • Removing a node should not leave the cluster in a degenerate state.
  • A node should have a single daemon.
  • A cluster should have no single point of failure.
  • You can access any data in the cluster by accessing any node in the cluster.
  • No cluster restarts for configuration changes.


Development is in the early stages. Please message us via Github if you'd like to help out.