Couchbase CEO: Let Oracle, SAP, IBM play in the “old” database market

The database wars are about to kick off in spectacular style. Not just Oracle vs SAP – as Big Red announced its new in-memory database at the start of this week – but relational vs NoSQL.

Oracle and SAP have been making plenty of noise about their in-memory capability; SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott once claimed that its HANA technology was “the fastest growing software product in the history of the world”, whilst in his recent event keynote, Larry Ellison claimed that data would move at “ungodly speeds” in the Oracle 12c database.

But that’s all relational, SQL database technology - and the NoSQL brigade is coming up fast.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out which side Bob Wiederhold, CEO and president of NoSQL database provider Couchbase, sits on. And his company’s ready for the battle ahead, with the release earlier this month of Couchbase Lite, claimed as the first and, as yet only, mobile NoSQL database.

“Mobile is very rapidly becoming the new platform where enterprises and consumer developers are developing on mobile first,” Wiederhold tells CloudTech in a call. “We think more and more sophisticated applications are going to be written and run on the mobile device itself.

“We think that having a local NoSQL database is going to be a very powerful alternative for mobile developers to use,” he adds. “If you’re storing your data locally, that means you’re going to have much higher performance and be able to deliver much higher responsiveness to the users of an application.

“Obviously your network connections are oftentimes very spotty, and now the application will be able to run because the data is local, and if you don’t have a good network connection you’re not affected by that.”

You may have the best database for the online-offline mobile world, but without the technology to sync it to the cloud, it’s not going to be effective. Enter Couchbase Sync Gateway, which Wiederhold describes as a “core competency” the company has.

“We use that same syncing technology to deliver our cross data centre replication, which has been extremely successful in the market, and so that syncing is very important too,” he adds.

With cloud syncing combined with the only mobile NoSQL database, Wiederhold not unsurprisingly believes Couchbase to be ahead of rivals such as MongoDB – who confirmed to The Register earlier this month that they didn’t have anything lined up in that area – and DataStax.

And Wiederhold is in no mood to wave his relational competition past either.

“To some extent, we don’t care,” he emphatically replies to a question regarding Oracle’s in-memory database announcement. “We think that over time the market is going to move towards NoSQL, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Wiederhold adds: “We’re happy to let Oracle and others play in the old market, while we build these new disruptive technologies that we think ultimately are going to dominate and, ultimately, will cause Oracle, IBM, SAP and others to have a very difficult time.”

Couchbase also received series D funding to the tune of $25m last month, with Wiederhold saying the money will go on further product development alongside investing in Israel, Japan and Korea, as well as forging business in China, India and South America.

For the future, Wiederhold envisages a scene whereby big enterprises place bigger bets on NoSQL.

“What we’re seeing, over the past 12 months, and we think this will accelerate over the next 12 months, is many big internet companies and big enterprises starting to make big strategic commitments to NoSQL,” he explains.

“We’re seeing a very strong increase in the number of strategic evaluations that these companies are doing, and on the back of these evaluations they’re making major multi-year commitments to NoSQL for mission critical applications.

“Those are much bigger deals than we’ve seen in the past,” Wiederhold adds.

What do you make of the moves forward in the non-relational database space, and can these companies overtake the Oracles and SAPs?

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