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Redis and its creator antirez

Redis and its creator antirez

2023-05-10 07:17:33

This text is translated from the unique Chinese edition.

On the earth of databases, Redis stands out as distinctive. As an alternative of the standard tables or paperwork which are the central focus of most databases, with Redis, you work together instantly with low-level information constructions similar to linked lists and hash tables.

That is all due to the modern design of Redis creator Salvatore Sanfilippo, recognized on-line as antirez. A grasp in system programming, antirez prefers to suppose by way of information constructions like lists, hashes, and units. The upper-level information representations, similar to tables or paperwork, simply did not go well with his style. When creating Redis, antirez was an newbie within the database area. However maybe it was this lack of expertise that allowed him to convey contemporary concepts to the business.

At the moment, Redis has grow to be mainstream, with its footprint seen in practically all net companies. Based on Stack Overflow’s surveys, Redis has been probably the most beloved database for 5 consecutive years.

antirez’s youth

Rising up in Sicily, Italy, antirez’s father was an electrician at a petrochemical firm, the place he handled industrial automation issues. Within the 80s, his father began working with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and his curiosity in these controllers led him to buy a Z80 processor board and begin programming on it.

When antirez was six, his household obtained their first private laptop, a Texas Devices I94A. Whereas it wasn’t commercially profitable, it was an fascinating machine. His father would write some BASIC packages on it, and antirez shortly adopted go well with, studying to sort and duplicate BASIC packages by the point he was in first grade.

As he grew older, antirez continued programming. Nonetheless, by the age of 14, typical teenage pursuits like bikes and ladies started to take over, and programming took a again seat. It wasn’t till he was 18 or 19 that he rediscovered his ardour for computer systems, taking part in with 3D modeling and video games, and writing easy packages. Whereas learning structure on the College of Palermo, he used BASIC for drawing, the one programming language he knew from his childhood.


Someday, antirez wished to purchase a graphics card however mistakenly bought a modem as an alternative. When the retailer refused a refund, he simply went with it, saying, “Properly, I suppose it is a modem then!” It was the 90s, and the web was turning into a factor. He obtained on-line, put in Linux, and started taking an curiosity in data safety. He purchased a e book on the C programming language and began studying. Earlier than lengthy, he found a vulnerability within the ping program.

The vulnerability was this: Unix sometimes has a restriction that when you’re not root, you possibly can’t shortly ship numerous packets in a brief interval. However antirez discovered a method to bypass this restriction utilizing Unix alerts.

He posted his findings on the Bugtraq mailing record in April 1998. Bugtraq was a mailing record about cybersecurity, the place safety consultants from all over the world would publish safety points. The subsequent day, antirez obtained a long-distance name from Milan; a cybersecurity firm named SECLAB wished him to work for them.

Stunned, antirez responded, “However I am simply an structure pupil. I do not know something.” However the proprietor of SECLAB nonetheless inspired him to come back to Milan for a chat. After assembly with them, the proprietor instructed antirez, “Go on along with your life, however learn these ten books after which come again to me.” The books have been all about networking, like TCP/IP protocols, firewalls, software safety, and cryptography. So, in the summertime of 1998, antirez spent his days on the shores of Sicily studying these books.

In September, antirez returned to SECLAB, who wished to rent him. He took a break from college and moved to Milan for work. Throughout his first assembly, he could not perceive a factor his colleagues have been saying, and he felt like a whole impostor. A few of Italy’s greatest hackers labored at SECLAB on the time. antirez started to contribute after two months of immersion.

First, antirez invented an assault known as Idle Scan, which remains to be one of many well-known assaults in Nmap and remains to be being studied. The proprietor of SECLAB noticed extra worth in antirez’s contributions to the open-source neighborhood than in coping with shoppers, so he was inspired to give attention to writing open-source software program and researching cyber assaults.

Moreover, antirez created a instrument known as hping, a command-line instrument that permits you to ship customized TCP/IP packets. It served an identical function to ping however did not should observe the ICMP protocol like ping, so hping might do extra, similar to testing firewall guidelines, testing community efficiency, and transmitting recordsdata previous firewalls.

After six months at SECLAB, antirez was fired. He had begun to remain up late and arrive late to work. Milan, a bustling metropolis, was a bit too tempting for a 21-year-old, and it was straightforward to lose oneself with out good self-discipline. Regardless that his time there was transient, antirez wrote numerous C packages and took part in lots of initiatives throughout these six months, marking a big turning level in his profession.

Beginning Merzia, his personal firm

In 2000, antirez joined Linuxcare Italia, an organization coping with open-source software program. He was in a position to work remotely from dwelling, and all the pieces was going nice till the dot-com bubble burst. Someday, the corporate despatched an e-mail to its staff, primarily saying, “We’re shutting down operations in 18 nations, and in a month, you are all going to be out of a job. Good night time.”

In 2001, on the age of 23 and with a baby to help, antirez wanted to discover a method to make ends meet. He started writing PHP, taking good care of each front-end and back-end growth, and dealing on small initiatives for shoppers.

2005 was the daybreak of Net 2.0, and he and his buddy Fabio Pitrola based an organization named Merzia, aiming to create Net 2.0 purposes for the Italian market. Telecom Italia, the foremost Italian telecommunication firm, noticed what they have been doing and reached out to determine a collaborative relationship. Telecom Italia ultimately purchased two web sites they developed: OKNOtizie, a social information website, and Segnalo, a bookmarking web site just like Scrumptious.

The start of LLOOGG and Redis

Just a few years later, antirez and his buddy determined to give attention to a brand new area: net analytics. They aimed to create a instrument for bloggers that may permit them to observe their guests’ real-time conduct. For instance, a customer clicks on an article from Google, returns to the homepage, after which navigates to a selected web page. This data might assist bloggers enhance the design and navigation of their web sites. This instrument was known as LLOOGG, and its dwelling web page contained a number of traces that highlighted the way it differed from Google Analytics.

What set LLOOGG aside was its capacity to let web site directors observe a customer’s real-time exercise on their website. Google Analytics did not introduce this function till 2011, but LLOOGG was launched in 2007, demonstrating its innovation.

At first, antirez tried to make use of MySQL, however quickly bumped into efficiency points. Each time MySQL learn or wrote information, it needed to entry the exhausting drive. As the info quantity grew, operations turned bottlenecked by exhausting drive learn/write speeds, inflicting the web site to grind to a halt. From a contemporary perspective, an skilled backend engineer would inform you to not use MySQL for real-time purposes, however this was not so apparent again in 2007.

antirez believed that utilizing reminiscence might resolve this difficulty, so he wrote a prototype of a reminiscence database within the Tcl programming language. Named LMDB (LLOOGG Reminiscence Database), this was the precursor to Redis. The supply code was simply over 300 traces lengthy, nevertheless it was sufficient to present you a good suggestion of what Redis would come to be.

Firstly, the prototype already supported basic commands like SET, GET, LPUSH, RPUSH, and so forth. Two information varieties have been supported: strings and lists. Furthermore, the communication protocol between the server and the shopper was identical one utilized by Redis v1. It was designed to be human-readable and quick to parse.

Redis’ default port quantity, 6379, was within the Tcl source code too. It has an fascinating backstory. On a cellphone keyboard, 6379 is MERZ. It is a time period impressed by Alessia Merz, an Italian showgirl. Alessia’s amusing feedback on TV usually entertained antirez and his pals. Amongst pals, they might describe one thing foolish or meaningless by saying “that is merz!” Over a decade or so, the time period “merz” progressively developed amongst their circle to explain one thing that appeared silly however had technical hack worth. This most likely additionally explains the origin of their firm identify, Merzia.

Within the first few traces of the Tcl supply code, antirez imported a bundle however did not use it, leaving solely a remark, # For [fork]. He wished to make use of the fork() system name for information persistence, a mechanism to put in writing information again to the exhausting drive. That is nonetheless how Redis RDB works to this present day: fork() creates a baby course of that writes information to the disk, whereas the mum or dad course of continues with its authentic duties. The Tcl supply code did not actually use fork(), antirez simply left a remark there. That was the time he realized that Tcl had reached its limits and it was time to rewrite it in C.

In February 2009, antirez’s buddy David Welton helped him share Redis to the world on Hacker Information. The response was fairly muted; aside from David, solely 4 folks responded. Three of them stated there have been already comparable initiatives on the market, and just one particular person responded positively and provided to assist. That particular person was Ezra Zygmuntowicz (who was sadly deceased in 2014 RIP), who was already fairly well-known within the Ruby on Rails neighborhood and was a co-founder of EngineYard. Ezra wrote the preliminary model of the Ruby shopper for Redis, redis-rb, which stays the go-to Ruby shopper to this present day. And redis-rb performed a key function in making Redis widespread within the Ruby neighborhood.

Over 5 years, Redis dealt with two billion web page views for LLOOGG. When the location was shut down in 2014, Redis was processing 350-400 instructions per second. And all of this was working on a digital machine that price simply $150 a month.

Early adoption of GitHub, Instagram, and Twitter

Regardless of the muted response on Hacker Information, antirez continued to develop Redis exterior of his day job. This went on for a few yr, progressively attracting customers.

On the time, he had two different open-source initiatives: hping and the Jim Interpreter, however Redis was the primary one he felt was price long-term funding. After shedding curiosity in cybersecurity, he stopped creating hping. Disillusioned with the path of Tcl and embracing Ruby, he stopped engaged on the Jim Interpreter. However he was positive he could not dwell with out databases, so he assumed Redis could be successful and continued its growth. Even when it did not succeed, he knew he’d be utilizing it for years to come back.

In 2009, the identical yr Redis was printed, Chris Wanstrath, the CEO of a startup known as GitHub, used Redis to construct a job queue system named Resque for working GitHub’s background duties. Within the Rails world, Resque was the most well-liked job queue system on the time. A successor, Sidekiq, which emerged in 2012 and was additionally constructed on Redis, is now the best choice for Rails software builders.

One other startup, Instagram, started to get in contact with antirez in 2010. In these emails, certainly one of its co-founders, Mike Krieger, mentioned the way to use Redis to construct Instagram. Each Instagram and Redis have been simply getting began, and Mike and antirez did not know one another. Instagram was entirely built on Redis in its early years, so with out Redis, Instagram may not have existed, or a minimum of would have been delayed.

In 2010, Twitter additionally joined the ranks of Redis customers. Twitter’s key function, the “timeline”, is powered by Redis. Curiously, not lengthy after Redis was launched (in March 2009), antirez constructed a Twitter clone known as Retwis to showcase a Redis software.

For a few yr, Redis was nothing greater than a pastime undertaking for antirez. He improved it and launched new variations with out being paid, till sooner or later he obtained a name from VMware.

“We might prefer to financially help Redis,” they stated. “We’ve got an workplace in Italy and we would like to rent you. Would you prefer to be our worker?” When antirez requested what he would want to do for them, they reassured him, “No, no, no, you simply proceed what you are presently doing and we’ll pay you. All you must do is point out in your web site that Redis is sponsored by VMware.” 2010-11-27 的擷圖

So similar to that, Redis obtained its first main sponsor. antirez labored with VMware on Redis for a number of years. When VMware later cut up with Pivotal, he moved to Pivotal.

As Redis gained extra customers, the primary wave of firms providing Redis consulting companies emerged. Amongst them was an organization from Tel Aviv, Israel, known as Redis Labs. Initially named Garantia Information and began as a database provider, the corporate later renamed itself to Redis Labs and shifted its focus to Redis-related enterprise.

Pivotal and Redis Labs shared a typical investor who sooner or later recommended to antirez, “What are you doing at VMware? Go to Redis Labs. That is the place your product’s help heart is.” Consequently, antirez moved to Redis Labs, the place he has been working ever since. In August 2021, Redis Labs formally modified its identify to Redis, turning the undertaking’s web site,, into the corporate’s web site.

Ten years later

Ten years after Redis was born, in January 2020, antirez stood on the stage at a Redis Day convention, introducing the brand new options of Redis 6.0 along with his signature Italian-accented English. On Twitter, you will discover some photos of attendees with antirez on that day.

Look again on the expansion of Redis over these ten years:

Time Model New options
Feb 2009 Strings, lists
Sep 2009 1.0 Units, sorted units, persistence (RDB, AOF), …
Sep 2010 2.0 Hashes, pub/sub, bitmaps, Lua scripting, HyperLogLog, …
Apr 2015 3.0 Clusters, geospatial indexes
Jul 2017 4.0 Modules: RediSearch, RedisJSON, RedisGraph, …
Oct 2018 5.0 Streams
Jan 2020 6.0 SSL、ACL, …

In June of the identical yr, antirez wrote a blog post saying that he had determined to step down from his function because the developer and maintainer of the Redis undertaking. Though he would proceed to function a guide for Redis Labs, providing recommendation, he would now not be instantly concerned in growth. Over a decade of devotion to the identical undertaking had left antirez feeling burned out.

For antirez, programming was a method to categorical himself, a type of artwork. Each character and line break needed to be meticulously crafted, akin to the artwork type of writing. Software program growth was like writing a e book — it needed to be lovely, elegant, and straightforward to understand. If that software program occurred to be helpful to others, that was only a facet impact.

After all, antirez understood that this concept wasn’t sensible. When your software program is adopted on a big scale, you must make many compromises that may render your software program lower than excellent, however extra helpful for folks. Sustaining Redis turned more and more difficult, leaving him torn between artwork and utility. This wrestle left antirez feeling exhausted and below strain, craving to return to his id as an artist and create pure programming artwork.

See Also

After leaving the Redis undertaking, antirez wrote a science fiction about synthetic intelligence known as Wohpe, which was printed in July 2022. In April of the identical yr, the Redis staff launched model 7.0. And that was the primary main model since antirez left the undertaking.


  1. #storiedidevelopers – Salvatore Sanfilippo aka Antirez – YouTube

  2. L’open source è un fiume in piena | Salvatore Sanfilippo | TEDxCapoPeloro – YouTube

  3. Curriculum Vitae – antirez weblog

  4. Open Source Builders: How Redis Upended the Database Market – The News Stack

  5. The Evolution of Redis – YouTube

  6. Bugtraq: pingflood.c

  7. TCP Idle Scan (-sI) | Nmap Network Scanning

  8. 深入浅出Redis – 知乎

  9. LMDB — First version of Redis written in Tcl

  10. LMDB – First version of Redis written in Tcl | Hacker News

  11. Redis | Hacker News

  12. Redis Turns 10 – How it started with a single post on Hacker News

  13. Redis as an LRU cache – antirez weblog

  14. One year of Redis – antirez weblog

  15. Introducing Resque | The GitHub Blog

  16. Storing hundreds of millions of simple key-value pairs in Redis | Instagram Engineering

  17. LLOOGG has shut down | Sir Authur’s Den

  18. The end of the Redis adventure – <antirez>

  19. WOHPE di Salvatore Sanfilippo aka “antirez”: e se una #AI fosse la nostra ultima speranza? – YouTube

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