Cloudant makes NoSQL as a service bigger

Cloudant is enlarging its cloud-based NoSQL data-layer-as-a-service. That may sound merely infrastructural, or interesting only to developers, but the Big Data ramifications are significant.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

The worlds of Big Data and NoSQL overlap and coincide quite a bit.  For instance Hbase, a Wide Column Store NoSQL database is often used with Hadoop, and vice-versa.  Meanwhile, beyond the Wide Column Store realm, NoSQL Document Stores are growing ever more popular with developers.  One of the most popular Document Store NoSQL databases is CouchDB which, like HBase and Hadoop itself, is a top-level Apache Software Foundation project.

And now the news: Boston-based Cloudant uses CouchDB's API and technology, combined with its own query and sharding (partitioning) code to offer the open source "BigCouch" database and a hosted "data layer" as a service offering that is effectively a super-charged CouchDB in the cloud.  Today, Cloudant is announcing an expansion of the infrastructure upon which its cloud service is offered, by adding a new data center in Amsterdam, giving it points of presence across Europe, Asia and North America.  That's important for a hosted data service's customers, especially with a distributed database like Cloudant's flavor of CouchDB: it allows data to reside on the edges of the network, close to a variety of customers, which minimizes latency.  Put another way: customers' apps will go faster for a variety of their users, around the world.

So what's the Big Data angle here?  To start with, Cloudant's query and sharding technology is the productization of particle physics research work done at MIT, where data loads of up to 100 Petabytes per second had to be accommodated.  That sounds like Big Data to me, despite the fact that Cloudant's data layer is designed for operational database use rather than for dedicated analysis work.  Plus, Cloudant's layer offers "chainable" MapReduce, making it more Big Data-friendly still.

Another Big Data tie-in is that no less than three former members of the product team from Vertica (an in-memory database appliance acquired by HP) now serve on Cloudant's leadership team.  Specifically, CEO Derek Schoettle, VP of Marketing Andy Ellicott and Board of Directors member Andy Palmer all come from Vertica.  Ellicott also did a stint at VoltDB, another scale-out, in-memory database company.  (This is getting to be a bit of a trend in the industry.  As I reported earlier this month, another Vertica alumnus, former CEO Christopher Lynch, recently joined Hadapt's Board as Chairman).

Technology start-ups (and their funders) are continuing their preference for NoSQL database architectures, and NoSQL databases are getting better at handling huge volumes of data, whether on-premise or in the cloud.  With all that in mind, every student of Big Data needs to monitor the NoSQL world very carefully.

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