I decided I needed some Couchbase drilldown, on business and technology alike, so I had solid chats with both CEO Bob Wiederhold and Chief Architect Dustin Sallings. Pretty much everything I wrote at the time Membase and CouchOne merged to form Couchbase (the company) still holds up. But I have more detail now.
Context for any comments on customer traction includes:
- Membase went into limited production release in October, and full release in January. Similar things are true of CouchDB.
- Hence, most sales of Couchbase’s products have been made over the past 6 months.
- Couchbase (the merged product) is at this point only in a pre-production developer’s release.
- Couchbase has both a direct sales force and a classic open-source “funnel”-based online selling model. Naturally, Couchbase’s understanding of what its customers are doing is more solid with respect to the direct sales base.
- Most of Couchbase’s revenue to date seems to have come from a limited number of big-ticket “lighthouse” accounts (as opposed to, say, the larger number of smaller deals that come in through the online funnel).
- Most Membase purchases are for new applications, as opposed to memcached migrations. However, customers are the kinds of companies that probably also are using memcached elsewhere.
- Most other Membase purchases are replacements for the Membase/MySQL combination. Bob says those are easy sales with short sales cycles.
- Pure memcached support is a small but non-zero business for Couchbase, and a fine source of upsell opportunities.
- In the pipeline but not so much yet in the customer base are SaaS vendors and the like who use and may want to replace traditional DBMS such as Oracle. Other than among those, Couchbase doesn’t compete much yet with Oracle et al.
- Pure CouchDB isn’t all that much of a business, at least relative to community size, as CouchDB is a single-server product commonly used by people who are content not to pay for support.
Membase sales are concentrated in five kinds of internet-centric companies, which in declining order are:
- Social gaming
- Ad platforms
- Online retail
- Online business, including B2B SaaS
- Social networking
Bob said that Couchbase often sees MongoDB competitively, but never Riak, HBase, or Redis. I got the impression Couchbase sees at least a little Cassandra. That would, of course, all pertain only to direct sales, rather than download/community kinds of usage.
Couchbase is also excited about the potential for the CouchDB-based Couchbase Mobile occasionally-connected offering. The hottest use cases, interestingly, seem to be non-consumer; Bob rattled off military, farming, and health care, and surely could have named more besides. However, the Couchbase Mobile sales effort still seems to be in early days, as is evidenced by the fact that Couchbase has not yet competitively encountered Sybase SQL Anywhere.
With all that said, I’ll go now to a separate post for a Couchbase technical update.