TL; DR: Couchbase, a distributed NoSQL multicloud-to-edge database, offers the scalability, performance, and versatility needed to simplify data access for next-generation applications. The technology is applicable across industries and in multiple use cases, including operational analytics, high-performance caching, identity and inventory management, field service, IoT management, and peer-to-peer services. With Couchbase 7 Beta, the company is introducing new logical structures to organize and secure data, plus new security models, performance optimizations, and configuration alternatives.
Like hot chocolate and marshmallows, some things are just better together. Such was the case with CouchOne and Membase, two popular NoSQL database solution providers that cozied up in 2011 to create Couchbase.
The combination of Apache CouchDB’s document database technology, Memcached’s distributed memory-caching system, and Membase’s cluster management and data flow technologies made for a winning concoction.
“That original concept — taking two adjacent kinds of technologies and ideas and merging them together — is what attracted me to Couchbase,” said Jeff Morris, Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing at the company.
Couchbase is now an award-winning force in the distributed NoSQL cloud database space, delivering financial value, performance, and scalability across multiple server deployments: cloud, on-premises, hybrid, distributed cloud, and edge computing.
Jeff told us that, from its inception, Couchbase’s goal has always been to innovate in a way that meets developers where they are at any given time.
“Today, we’re very much experts in automatic data rebalancing to add nodes to your cluster,” he said. “We’re also really good at cross-datacenter replication, which entails delivering a database cluster that, for example, hosts only German data to conform to GDPR. Then, to conform to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), we can dedicate everything in another cluster to the CCPA and the rules associated with it — even though the top-level application might be operating in both areas.”
This is just one of many implementation examples. With such robust and flexible capabilities, Couchbase serves as the go-to multicloud-to-edge database for building business-critical apps across several industries and use cases.
Evolving the Way Developers Build Mission-Critical Apps
Couchbase continued its innovative approach well beyond the 2011 merger of Membase and CouchOne.
In 2012, for example, the company announced the general availability of Couchbase Server 2.0, which embraced the functionality of both a key-value database and a JSON document-oriented one. By 2014, it introduced Couchbase Mobile 1.0, the industry’s first mobile NoSQL database.
With 2015’s Couchbase Server 4.0, the company added SQL-like queries with N1QL (a query language that combines the benefits of SQL and JSON) and multidimensional scaling. “We said, ‘Rather than having a proprietary query language, let’s make our query language to mimic SQL as best we possibly can,’” Jeff said. “N1QL is like SQL for JSON.”
In 2017, Couchbase also added full-text search and ephemeral buckets. Jeff said that the inclusion of a native full-text search engine inside of Couchbase frees developers of the burden to write or find an existing elastic search interface.
Ephemeral buckets, on the other hand, can be used whenever persistence is not required to provide in-memory performance without disk-based fluctuations. Eliminating the disk component also reduces the total cost of ownership.
Finally, in 2018, the company made it possible to circumvent the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process with the first commercial implementation of the SQL++ language in N1QL for analytics.
“Even more recently, we’ve added a multiparallel processing analytic engine inside the cluster that mimics the ideas originally found in Hadoop MapReduce,” Jeff said. “This means being able to quickly process large swaths of the dataset itself without interrupting the service of the operational system of the cluster.”
A Broad and Growing Spectrum of Use Cases
The scalability, performance, and versatility of Couchbase allows developers to apply the technology in multiple use cases. Those include operational analytics, high-performance caching, identity management, inventory management, field service, IoT management, and peer-to-peer services.
The technology’s wide range also applies to industries. A quick search of the case studies on the Couchbase site brings up examples in several industries, including energy and utilities, financial services, gaming, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics, media and entertainment, retail and ecommerce, tech, telecommunications, and travel and hospitality.
“The array of applications that we end up supporting include customers like LinkedIn, which uses our memory caching capability to serve up your feed, remember where you left off, and know what you’ve seen before,” Jeff said. “Amadeus has done the same type of thing with high-performance catalog management. They service massive numbers of users on the front end, and that’s why they liked the caching capability of Couchbase.”
Gluu, a large-scale identity and access management provider, uses Couchbase behind the scenes to manage user profiles. The company has successfully pushed Couchbase’s capabilities to more than a billion user authentications a day with no problems.
“You want to use Couchbase or JSON databases for user identity purpose because new attributes are always being added,” Jeff said. “For example, COVID-19 vaccination status could be a new attribute that comes up for any given user in the near future.”
Other customers are putting Couchbase’s mobile capabilities to good use to create smart cities and environments as part of a Customer 360-type application. The cruise brand Carnival Corporation, for example, leverages a proprietary platform that depends on Couchbase to enable highly personalized guest experiences at scale via data collected through wearable guest devices.
Overcoming Obstacles in Performance and Scale
In June 2020, Couchbase debuted Couchbase Cloud on AWS, a fully managed version of Couchbase Server designed to eliminate the headaches inherent in operating and maintaining a cloud database.
“Most recently, we released our own fully managed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) that supports the majority of our capabilities,” Jeff said. “We’re delivering full service immediately as a 30-day trial, which runs inside the customer’s cloud account. This allows them to fall in love with all the virtues of Couchbase as a developer before they build their next project.”
In January, Couchbase announced that Couchbase Cloud is also available on Microsoft Azure. “For customers who have standardized on Microsoft solutions, Couchbase Cloud on Microsoft Azure brings the scale and flexibility of Couchbase as a fully managed DBaaS solution,” Scott Anderson, SVP, Product Management and Business Operations of Couchbase, said in a press release at the time.
Jeff said such solutions are helping enterprises optimize costs, improve agility, and boost innovation at a time when developers need it most.
“We recognize that user behaviors are all upside down right now because of lockdowns related to the pandemic — today a lot of retailers have to operate like they’re delivering pizzas,” he said. “That is creating an opportunity for us to help customers modernize and refactor old systems, build new ones catered to new consumer behavior, and figure out new ways to save money while doing so.”
Of course, the company can also help customers achieve their goals at scale.
“As a database vendor, we took on a lot of the hard challenges very early,” Jeff said. “We knew we had to satisfy for performance and scale. The fact that we can support really large systems gives me a customer base I can talk about for ages.”
Couchbase 7 Beta: Mapping RDBMSs to NoSQL
Jeff said Couchbase will build new capabilities into its environment as NoSQL continues to mature as a database model.
“Couchbase 7 Beta is available now with a full release scheduled for summer,” he said. “We’re giving it a nice long runway of exercise and use.”
The release will add intermediate layers of Scopes and Collections to define and organize data in support of relational database management system (RDBMS) compatibility, multi-tenancy for independent software vendors, and best practices for cloud-native development.
“Schema mapping from relational databases into a NoSQL database like Couchbase is going to be a big deal moving forward,” Jeff said.