UPDATED 23:28 EST / FEBRUARY 07 2011

CouchOne Meets Membase, They Make a Baby in the Cloud: Couchbase

Talk about a match made in heaven, or even a cloud-themed Valentine’s Day tale.  A merger between database solutions provider CouchOne, and open source technology provider Membase comes really close to heaven, though it’s really a match made in the cloud.  After initial discussions began last year, the holidays were busy for executives at both companies, setting the merger underway.  In the process, they uncovered more match points than they ever could’ve imagined; from a technology standpoint, their approach to gaining market share, and even in filling key executive roles.  The companies are announcing the merger today, along with the name of their new product, Couchbase.

CouchOne, founded by CouchDB creator Damien Katz, offers database solutions powered by the Apache CouchDB database project.  With a penchant for ease of use and reliability, this open source database has been deployed across 10k desktops world wide, in addition to large-scale implementations at companies including the BBC, Aple and CERN.

Membase, on the other hand, specializes in open source technology, offering a distributed key-value database with integrated memecached capabilities.  They are keen on dynamic cluster elasticity, and sustained low-latency operations, with a core technology that powers large-scale applications in the cloud.  Clients include Zynga, AOL and ShareThis, among others.

“It continues to amaze us, as the days go by, how well our products fit,” James Phillips, co-founder and SVP of products for Membase tells me in an interview.  “It’s pretty rare to see a merger that works so well as this, from a technology standpoint, our open source technology, the Membase tech we’ve been working on the past year…CouchOne had a good sense of when to put data on servers, and provide a lot of the developer functionality for a database.”

Where CouchOne and Membase found they could help each other is in leveraging each other’s technology to fill their own gaps.  This is a particular driver for the NoSQL market, which is already undergoing some consolidation.  And while this is another story of team-ups in the cloud, the efficiency that will take place on product execution and subsequent management will bring sighs of relief to IT managers and developers in the NoSQL space.

“We’re specializing in keeping stuff off discs, and getting really fast IO rates. We’re focused on offering a complete database backend—Membase has been optimization-focused, and that’s not something a developer would just pick up.  CouchOne is more developer oriented.  Merging the two now will have an extremely friendly, scalable option that’s easy for developers in the NoSQL space.”

This really addresses some of the major concerns businesses have regarding current cloud mechanisms, which can get data into a virtual state, but are now dealing with the management and movement of that data.  CouchOne is able to better determine the needs from a developer standpoint, allowing Membase to focus on its core competency of getting that data on and off servers quickly.

The merger has also knocked down the to-do lists for both companies, as they’ve managed to solve so many of each other’s problems.  An elegant solution doesn’t always come in the form of a partnership, but in Couchbase’s case, it just might do the trick.  Now that the team has doubled in size, it’s anxious to focus on innovation.

“Most other databases are about scaling up, and we also have those capabilities, but we’re also scaling down,” Katz explains.  “Mobile is part of our roadmap…we can sync data down to the mobile phone level, enabling mobile apps to provide users data wherever they go.  Those same cases apply to the enterprise level, and they need access regardless of network connectivity.”

This notion of scaling down is something CouchOne has been toying with for some time, perfecting its technology not only for consumers, but company employees that may need access to work items when they’re away from the office.  Making data live and available in a device- and location-agnostic manner is a challenge CouchOne will be able to more readily take on, now that it’s become Couchbase.

“This also has to scale across millions of users, that may all want their data on their mobile,” Katz concludes.  We’re the only database offering with this big vision of scaling up and down, with a focus on the mobile level.”

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