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FamilySearch’s Family Tree Web Application: Replacing Relational Database Technology and Transitioning to Cloud-Hosted Computing

May 2018 Presentation
Randy A. Ynchausti (LDS Church)

This talk describes FamilySearch's approach to transitioning from proprietary relational databases to open source relational and NoSQL databases in the cloud.


Software Engineering Institute




FamilySearch is a large website that provides family history and genealogy features to users throughout the world for free. The Family Tree is one of its web applications that represents a giant, common pedigree that users can view and edit. Since all users can manage its public data, the Family Tree minimizes and eliminates the need for users to duplicate research and entry of common ancestors. It currently contains information about one billion persons, their relationships, and sources, and other memories that document each person's genealogically meaningful data.

Family Tree's expansive data—contrasted with the need for a high-performance user experience and its private project funding model—justifies swapping out its proprietary commercial relational database for open-source relational and NoSQL databases. In addition, the accessibility of cloud computing environments makes running Family Tree's microservice-based architecture appealing. Therefore, FamilySearch undertook and recently completed a project to migrate Family Tree's databases to open-source and NoSQL databases and transition them to a cloud-hosted computing environment.

This talk presents a detailed technical view of FamilySearch's approach with its associated challenges and accomplishments of the Family Tree's database transition and cloud-computing migration project.