Discussion of Couchbase (the company formed from the merger of Membase and CouchOne) and its products, most of which will also be branded as Couchbase.
I frequently am asked questions that boil down to:
- When should one use NoSQL?
- When should one use a new SQL product (NewSQL or otherwise)?
- When should one use a traditional RDBMS (most likely Oracle, DB2, or SQL Server)?
The details vary with context — e.g. sometimes MySQL is a traditional RDBMS and sometimes it is a new kid — but the general class of questions keeps coming. And that’s just for short-request use cases; similar questions for analytic systems arise even more often.
My general answers start:
- Sometimes something isn’t broken, and doesn’t need fixing.
- Sometimes something is broken, and still doesn’t need fixing. Legacy decisions that you now regret may not be worth the trouble to change.
- Sometimes — especially but not only at smaller enterprises — choices are made for you. If you operate on SaaS, plus perhaps some generic web hosting technology, the whole DBMS discussion may be moot.
In particular, migration away from legacy DBMS raises many issues: Read more
|Categories: Columnar database management, Couchbase, HBase, In-memory DBMS, Microsoft and SQL*Server, NewSQL, NoSQL, OLTP, Oracle, Parallelization, SAP AG||17 Comments|
Cassandra’s reputation in many quarters is:
- World-leading in the geo-distribution feature.
- Impressively scalable.
- Hard to use.
This has led competitors to use, and get away with, sales claims along the lines of “Well, if you really need geo-distribution and can’t wait for us to catch up — which we soon will! — you should use Cassandra. But otherwise, there are better choices.”
My friends at DataStax, naturally, don’t think that’s quite fair. And so I invited them — specifically Billy Bosworth and Patrick McFadin — to educate me. Here are some highlights of that exercise.
DataStax and Cassandra have some very impressive accounts, which don’t necessarily revolve around geo-distribution. Netflix, probably the flagship Cassandra user — since Cassandra inventor Facebook adopted HBase instead — actually hasn’t been using the geo-distribution feature. Confidential accounts include:
- A petabyte or so of data at a very prominent company, geo-distributed, with 800+ nodes, in a kind of block storage use case.
- A messaging application at a very prominent company, anticipated to grow to multiple data centers and a petabyte of so of data, across 1000s of nodes.
- A 300 terabyte single-data-center telecom account (which I can’t find on DataStax’s extensive customer list).
- A huge health records deal.
- A Fortune 10 company.
DataStax and Cassandra won’t necessarily win customer-brag wars versus MongoDB, Couchbase, or even HBase, but at least they’re strongly in the competition.
DataStax claims that simplicity is now a strength. There are two main parts to that surprising assertion. Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, Clustering, Couchbase, Data models and architecture, DataStax, Facebook, HBase, Health care, Log analysis, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB and 10gen, NoSQL, Petabyte-scale data management, Specific users||9 Comments|
The 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems is out. “Operational” seems to be Gartner’s term for what I call short-request, in each case the point being that OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) is a dubious term when systems omit strict consistency, and when even strictly consistent systems may lack full transactional semantics. As is usually the case with Gartner Magic Quadrants:
- I admire the raw research.
- The opinions contained are generally reasonable (especially since Merv Adrian joined the Gartner team).
- Some of the details are questionable.
- There’s generally an excessive focus on Gartner’s perception of vendors’ business skills, and on vendors’ willingness to parrot all the buzzphrases Gartner wants to hear.
- The trends Gartner highlights are similar to those I see, although our emphasis may be different, and they may leave some important ones out. (Big omission — support for lightweight analytics integrated into operational applications, one of the more genuine forms of real-time analytics.)
Anyhow: Read more
I’m not having a productive week, part of the reason being a hard drive crash that took out early drafts of what were to be last weekend’s blog posts. Now I’m operating from a laptop, rather than my preferred dual-monitor set-up. So please pardon me if I’m concise even by comparison to my usual standards.
- My recent posts based on surveillance news have been partly superseded by – well, by more news. Some of that news, along with some good discussion, may be found in the comment threads.
- The same goes for my recent Hadoop posts.
- The replay for my recent webinar on real-time analytics is now available. My part ran <25 minutes.
- One of my numerous clients using or considering a “real-time analytics” positioning is Sqrrl, the company behind the NoSQL DBMS Accumulo. Last month, Derrick Harris reported on a remarkable Accumulo success story – multiple US intelligence instances managing 10s of petabytes each, and supporting a variety of analytic (I think mainly query/visualization) approaches.
- Several sources have told me that MemSQL’s Zynga sale is (in part) for Membase replacement. This is noteworthy because Zynga was the original pay-for-some-of-the-development Membase customer.
- More generally, the buzz out of Couchbase is distressing. Ex-employees berate the place; job-seekers check around and then decide not to go there; rivals tell me of resumes coming out in droves. Yes, there’s always some of that, even at obviously prospering companies, but this feels like more than the inevitable low-level buzz one hears anywhere.
- I think the predictive modeling state of the art has become:
- Cluster in some way.
- Model separately on each cluster.
- And if you still want to do something that looks like a regression – linear or otherwise – then you might want to use a tool that lets you shovel training data in WITHOUT a whole lot of preparation* and receive a model back out. Even if you don’t accept that as your final model, it can at least be a great guide to feature selection (in the statistical sense of the phrase) and the like.
- Champion/challenger model testing is also a good idea, at least if you’re in some kind of personalization/recommendation space, and have enough traffic to test like that.**
- Most companies have significant turnover after being acquired, perhaps after a “golden handcuff” period. Vertica is no longer an exception.
- Speaking of my clients at HP Vertica – they’ve done a questionable job of communicating that they’re willing to price their product quite reasonably. (But at least they allowed me to write about $2K/terabyte for hardware/software combined.)
- I’m hearing a little more Amazon Redshift buzz than I expected to. Just a little.
- StreamBase was bought by TIBCO. The rumor says $40 million.
*Basic and unavoidable ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) of course excepted.
**I could call that ABC (Always Be Comparing) or ABT (Always Be Testing), but they each sound like – well, like The Glove and the Lions.
Hmm. I probably should have broken this out as three posts rather than one after all. Sorry about that.
Discussions of DBMS performance are always odd, for starters because:
- Workloads and use cases vary greatly.
- In particular, benchmarks such as the YCSB or TPC-H aren’t very helpful.
- It’s common for databases or at least working sets to be entirely in RAM — but it’s not always required.
- Consistency and durability models vary. What’s more, in some systems — e.g. MongoDB — there’s considerable flexibility as to which model you use.
- In particular, there’s an increasingly common choice in which data is written synchronously to RAM on 2 or more servers, then asynchronously to disk on each of them. Performance in these cases can be quite different from when all writes need to be committed to disk. Of course, you need sufficient disk I/O to keep up, so SSDs (Solid-State Drives) can come in handy.
- Many workloads are inherently single node (replication aside). Others are not.
MongoDB and 10gen
I caught up with Ron Avnur at 10gen. Technical highlights included: Read more
I plan to write about several NewSQL vendors soon, but first here’s an overview post. Like “NoSQL”, the term “NewSQL” has an identifiable, recent coiner — Matt Aslett in 2011 — yet a somewhat fluid meaning. Wikipedia suggests that NewSQL comprises three things:
- OLTP- (OnLine Transaction Processing)/short-request-oriented SQL DBMS that are newer than MySQL.
- Innovative MySQL engines.
- Transparent sharding systems that can be used with, for example, MySQL.
I think that’s a pretty good working definition, and will likely remain one unless or until:
- SQL-oriented and NoSQL-oriented systems blur indistinguishably.
- MySQL (or PostgreSQL) laps the field with innovative features.
To date, NewSQL adoption has been limited.
- NewSQL vendors I’ve written about in the past include Akiban, Tokutek, CodeFutures (dbShards), Clustrix, Schooner (Membrain), VoltDB, ScaleBase, and ScaleDB, with GenieDB and NuoDB coming soon.
- But I’m dubious whether, even taken together, all those vendors have as many customers or production references as any of 10gen, Couchbase, DataStax, or Cloudant.*
That said, the problem may lie more on the supply side than in demand. Developing a competitive SQL DBMS turns out to be harder than developing something in the NoSQL state of the art.
My clients at Couchbase checked in.
- After multiple delays, Couchbase 2.0 is well into beta, with general availability being delayed by the holiday season as much as anything else.
- Couchbase (the company) now has >350 subscription customers, almost all for Couchbase (the product) — which is to say for what was known as Membase, which is basically a persistent version of Memcached.
- There also are many users of open source Couchbase, most famously LinkedIn.
- Orbitz is a much-mentioned flagship paying Couchbase customer.
- Couchbase customers mainly seem to be replacing a caching layer, Memcached or otherwise.
- Couchbase headcount is just under 100.
The big changes in Couchbase 2.0 versus the previous (1.8.x) version are:
- JSON storage, including secondary indexes.
- Multi-data-center replication.
- A back-end change from SQLite to a heavily forked version of CouchDB, called Couchstore.
Couchbase 2.0 is upwards-compatible with prior versions of Couchbase (and hence with Memcached), but not with CouchDB.
Technology notes on Couchbase 2.0 include: Read more
|Categories: Basho and Riak, Cache, Cassandra, Clustering, Couchbase, MapReduce, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB and 10gen, NoSQL, Open source, Structured documents||4 Comments|
My clients at Cloudant, Couchbase, and 10gen/MongoDB (Edit: See Alex Popescu’s comment below) all boast the feature incremental MapReduce. (And they’re not the only ones.) So I feel like making a quick post about it. For starters, I’ll quote myself about Cloudant:
The essence of Cloudant’s incremental MapReduce seems to be that data is selected only if it’s been updated since the last run. Obviously, this only works for MapReduce algorithms whose eventual output can be run on different subsets of the target data set, then aggregated in a simple way.
These implementations of incremental MapReduce are hacked together by teams vastly smaller than those working on Hadoop, and surely fall short of Hadoop in many areas such as performance, fault-tolerance, and language support. That’s a given. Still, if the jobs are short and simple, those deficiencies may be tolerable.
A StackOverflow thread about MongoDB’s version of incremental MapReduce highlights some of the implementation challenges.
But all practicality aside, let’s return to the point that incremental MapReduce only works for some kinds of MapReduce-based algorithms, and consider how much of a limitation that really is. Looking at the Map steps sheds a little light: Read more
|Categories: Cloudant, Couchbase, EAI, EII, ETL, ELT, ETLT, Hadoop, MapReduce, MongoDB and 10gen, RDF and graphs||1 Comment|
Cloudant is one of the few NoSQL companies with >100 paying subscription customers. For starters:
- Cloudant’s core software is a fork of CouchDB.
- Cloudant only sells you software as a service.
- More precisely, whether Cloudant offers DBaaS (DataBase as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) or a “data layer” (Cloudant’s preferred terminology) depends on your taste in buzzwords.
- I gather that Cloudant (the company) wants to handle pretty much all your data management needs. But Cloudant (the product) isn’t there yet, especially on the analytic side.
- Before CouchDB and Membase joined together, Cloudant was positioned as the big(ger) data version of CouchDB.
Company demographics include:
- Cloudant is based in Boston.
- Cloudant started out as a Y Combinator company in 2008, and “got serious” in 2009.
- Cloudant now has ~20 employees.
- Management hires include a couple of former Vertica guys.
The Cloudant guys gave me some customer counts in May that weren’t much higher than those they gave me in February, and seem to have forgotten to correct the discrepancy. Oh well. The latter (probably understated) figures included ~160 paying customers, of which:
- ~100 were multitenant.
- ~60 were single tenant.
- 1 was on-premise (but still managed by Cloudant) because of privacy concerns.
The largest Cloudant deployments seem to be in the 10s of terabytes, across a very low double digit number of servers.
|Categories: Cloudant, Clustering, Couchbase, CouchDB, MapReduce, Market share and customer counts, NoSQL, Pricing, Specific users, Storage||2 Comments|
I’m frequently asked to generalize in some way about in-memory or memory-centric data management. I can start:
- The desire for human real-time interactive response naturally leads to keeping data in RAM.
- Many databases will be ever cheaper to put into RAM over time, thanks to Moore’s Law. (Most) traditional databases will eventually wind up in RAM.
- However, there will be exceptions, mainly on the machine-generated side. Where data creation and RAM data storage are getting cheaper at similar rates … well, the overall cost of RAM storage may not significantly decline.
Getting more specific than that is hard, however, because:
- The possibilities for in-memory data storage are as numerous and varied as those for disk.
- The individual technologies and products for in-memory storage are much less mature than those for disk.
- Solid-state options such as flash just confuse things further.
Consider, for example, some of the in-memory data management ideas kicking around. Read more