Couchbase rounds off a busy period – but is an IPO imminent?

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It has been a particularly busy year for database platform provider Couchbase – and the company hopes that things will become a whole lot busier.

Earlier this week Couchbase launched 4.5, which continues its move to create joins between NoSQL and SQL through the SQL-based query language N1QL. The latest iteration includes greater security capabilities, alongside faster queries and graphical tools to more easily explore data models.

In March, the Mountain View-based firm announced the conclusion of a $30 million series F funding round; in all probability the last before Couchbase commits to an IPO, according to CEO Bob Wiederhold. “We’re continuing to grow our business very fast – we think this is going to be a multi-billion dollar industry, and we certainly want to continue to invest in the product [and] continue to invest in our sales and technical support channels,” he told CloudTech. “This financing gives us the runway that we need to have what we think will be a very successful IPO in the not too distant future.”

When that is remains to be seen; tech firms going public has tailed off in 2016, which may go to explain why Twilio’s move to IPO earlier this week was met with such initial acclaim. Couchbase has frequently been aggressive and bullish not only on its own position, but the positions of its competitors; and the N1QL query language is seen by the firm as another key differentiator.

“The query language is not only helpful to our existing customers and existing use cases, but it also opens up many other use cases for use with Couchbase,” said Wiederhold. “We’re seeing the downloads and the adoption of Couchbase rise significantly now that we have a query language, and as we expected the fact that it’s a SQL-compliant language significantly lowers the barriers to adopting NoSQL.”

This is a similar view with which Dave Starling, CTO of video sharing platform Seenit, agrees. “One of the biggest difficulties we had originally with Couchbase was hiring people with any level of skillset on knowing how to write MapReduce views [a system of generating large data sets] or knowing how to query manually,” he tells CloudTech, “and so having a technology like N1QL means that it’s far easier for us to train up new developers, or developers who want to start working on NoSQL technologies because it’s a language that they’re going to be familiar with.”

Seenit has not only been using the beta version of 4.5 before launch, but Starling is a certified Couchbase developer expert. The community aspect and camaraderie is vital, says Wiederhold - “that’s how technologies go viral, particularly open source technologies” – but ultimately the rise of Couchbase is indicative of the rise in NoSQL itself.

Wiederhold explains that there are three distinct phases of development, from grass roots developers, to initial deployment, and mission critical and very broad deployment. “We’re now clearly in phase three,” he said. “We had our first hand customer making [the move] from phase two to phase three – they did much larger business deals with us that will allow them to expand their usage of Couchbase very broadly onto their digital economy business.

“We think that a number of other customers will go into phase three with us this year, so we think that’s a very good sign for our business and for the growth of the NoSQL industry.”

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