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SQL-based relational database management systems (RDBMS) are beginning to be challenged by a new movement of NoSQL databases. Among those NoSQL databases is the open source CouchDB. This is an alternative to the relational datastores used by RDBMS vendors; they are trying to move to cloud-based deployment options to appeal more users.
CouchDB is an open source project run by the Apache Software Foundation; they have some commercial backing from startup Cloudant, who will provide cloud services for CouchDB. With the additional cloud deployment options, Cloudant is aiming to help accelerate CouchDB adoption and make the database even more scalable.
CouchDB presents a new architecture for databases, different from a SQL-based RDBMS. In a relational database, you take your data, split it up and map those data objects into a set of rows and columns. What CouchDB does is to encapsulate all of the data into a single entity, which they call the “document”. It is somehow artificial to map data objects into a table. It’s more organic to keep those as data objects.
CouchDB includes its own built-in Web server, although it can work with modern Web frameworks, giving users another option of how to deploy it.
The cloud is a key element for CouchDB, since people are looking to increase their data volumes and leverage the elastic compute capabilities of the cloud. Cloud computing is often used to serve Web-based applications, but it can also be enhanced, e.g. via CloudDB, to support desktop applications as well.