FaunaDB review: Fast NoSQL database for global scale

Low latency, strong consistency, and high scalability make FaunaDB an excellent choice for greenfield web or mobile apps

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To import the schema, you upload it from your computer to the GraphQL Playground.

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The GraphQL playground, like the FQL shell, is accessible once you select a database.

Once you upload the GraphQL schema, FaunaDB creates the necessary database objects. Then you can add and query documents in the GraphQL Playground.

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Here we are creating and displaying a to-do item using the GraphQL playground. The result appears at the right after pressing the arrow to execute the mutation (DML) query. The createTodo function was automatically generated from the schema.

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We ran a query to find all to-do documents in a second tab in the GraphQL Playground. This time we included the document ID in the output.

You can find other FaunaDB tutorials and references within the online documentation.

FaunaDB and competitors

FaunaDB is a good choice of database for greenfield web or mobile apps that need to be available globally with low latency and serializable consistency. With drivers for nine popular programming languages, FaunaDB isn’t likely to present an impedance mismatch to your code. On the other hand, FaunaDB doesn’t yet support SQL, so your database code will either be in FQL (powerful but proprietary) or GraphQL (less powerful, but open source and fairly easy to learn).

FaunaDB is especially appropriate for use with JAMstack apps. Whether FaunaDB will be cost-effective for scaling a brownfield app depends very much on the existing database, schema type, and query language used by the app. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of migrating your data if you have an existing database.

If you absolutely require SQL compatibility, FaunaDB is not yet a good option for you. You’ll do better with Google Cloud Spanner, CockroachDB, YugaByte DB, or Azure Cosmos DB. If you don’t need SQL, you want good scalability, and you are willing to give up global strong consistency, then there are several more alternatives to FaunaDB, such as Couchbase, DataStax, and MongoDB.

Cost: Always free plan: Free, limited to 5 GB storage, 100K read ops per day, 50K write ops per day, 50 MB per day transfer out; for overage charges see the Utility plan. Utility plan: $0.18 per GB per month storage, $0.05 per 100K reads, $0.2 per 100K writes, $0.10 per GB per day transfer out. Pro plan: $99/month, 200 GB reserved storage, 1.5M per day reserved reads, 750K per day reserved writes, 500 MB per day reserved transfer out. Enterprise plan: custom, contact Fauna. 

Platform: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure (in development), and Google Cloud Platform clouds; available serverless (shared public cloud cluster) or as a VPS. Docker, Zip, RPM, or Deb installers for local offline development; requires 16 or more GB RAM, Java 8 or later, and NTP on all nodes. 

At a Glance
  • FaunaDB is a good choice of database for greenfield web or mobile apps that need to be available globally with low latency and serializable consistency.


    • Low global latency in a strongly consistent database
    • High scalability
    • Offered as a public cloud service or a virtual private server
    • Multi-model database with all models available from a single query


    • SQL queries are not yet supported
    • FaunaDB is not offered as an on-premises database

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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