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CouchDB targets the cloud

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

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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 also allows developers to do without a Web application stack, including middleware, to deliver applications. Many lightweight applications can be fully developed right out of CouchDB. There is an application-building philosophy called the ‘CouchDB app,’ where you take JavaScript, HTML and CSS and put all those pieces directly into the database and then serve the pages and application right from the database — so no middleware layers and no framework.

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.

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