IBM recently agreed to purchase Cloudant an online database service using a NoSQL database called CouchDB. Apparently this is an attempt by IBM to take on Amazon and others that support cloud based services using a NoSQL database backend to store massive amounts of data.
In other news, Dassault Systems, a provider of 3D and other design tools has invested $14.2M in NuoDB, a cloud-based NewSQL compliant database service provider. Apparently Dassault intends to start offering its design software as a service offering using NuoDB as a backend database.
We have discussed NewSQL and NoSQL database’s before (see NewSQL and the curse of old SQL databases post) and there are plenty available today. So, why the sudden interest in cloud based database services. I tend to think there are a couple of different trends playing out here.
IBM playing catchup
In the IBM case there’s just so much data going to the cloud these days that IBM just can’t have a hand in it, if it wants to continue to be a major IT service organization. Amazon and others are blazing this trail and IBM has to get on board or be left behind.
The NoSQL or no relational database model allows for different types of data structuring than the standard tables/rows of traditional RDMS databases. Specifically, NoSQL databases are very useful for data that can be organized in a tree (directed graph), graph (non-directed graph?) or key=value pairs. This latter item is very useful for Hadoop, MapReduce and other big data analytics applications. Doing this in the cloud just makes sense as the data can be both gathered and tanalyzed in the cloud without having anything more than the results of the analysis sent back to a requesting party.
IBM doesn’t necessarily need a SQL database as it already has DB2. IBM already has a cloud-based DB2 service that can be implemented by public or private cloud organizations. But they have no cloud based NoSQL service today and having one today can make a lot of sense if IBM wants to branch out to more cloud service offerings.
Dassault is broadening their market
As for the cloud based, NuoDB NewSQL database, not all data fits the tree, graph, key=value pair structuring of NoSQL databases. Many traditional applications that use databases today revolve around SQL services and would be hard pressed to move off RDMS.
Also, one ongoing problem with NoSQL databases is that they don’t really support ACID transaction processing and as such, often compromise on data consistency in order to support highly parallelizable activities. In contrast, a SQL database supports rigid transaction consistency and is just the thing for moving something like a traditional OLTP processing application to the cloud.
I would guess, how NuoDB handles the high throughput needed by it’s cloud service partners while still providing ACID transaction consistency is part of its secret sauce.
But what’s behind it, at least some of this interest may just be the internet of things (IoT)
The other thing that seems to be driving a lot of the interest in cloud based databases is the IoT. As more and more devices become internet connected, they will start to generate massive amounts of data. The only way to capture and analyze this data effectively today is with NoSQL and NewSQL database services. By hosting these services in the cloud, analyzing/processing/reporting on this tsunami of data becomes much, much easier.
Storing and analyzing all this IoT data should make for an interesting decade or so as the internet of things gets built out across the world. Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers recently said that the IoT market will be worth $19T and will have 50B internet connected devices by 2020. Seems a bit of a stretch seeings as how they just predicted (June 2013) to have 10B devices attached to the internet by the middle of last year, but who am I to disagree.
There’s much more to be written about the IoT and its impact on data storage, but that will need to wait for another time… stay tuned.
Photo Credit(s): database 2 by Tim Morgan