Cloudant Plans to Shift Focus to Apache CouchDB and Merge Features from BigCouch

Apache CouchDB logo

Apache CouchDB logo The drama regarding the future of Apache CouchDB is winding down and looks to have a happy ending. Following Couchbase’s announcement that it is discontinuing its own distribution of CouchDB, Cloudant announced that it is now in the process of merging its fork of CouchDB, called BigCouch, into the main CouchDB project. In an interview today, Cloudant CTO Adam Kocoloski confirmed to me that Cloudant will then wind down development of BigCouch after the merge and there will be just one major version of the NoSQL document database. Cloudant will then concentrate on developing CouchDB.

To recap the recent history: in February of 2011, CouchOne, a company co-founded by CouchDB creator Damien Katz as Couchio in 2009, merged with Membase to form Couchbase. The newly formed company announced its own distribution of CouchDB called Couchbase Server Single. The company also began integrating features from CouchDB, such as peer-to-peer replication, into Membase to create the main Couchbase Server offering.

Cloudant, founded in 2008, has been developing BigCouch, which improves CouchDB’s clustering and scale-out abilities by adapting technologies from Amazon Dynamo,’s distributed database system. “At the time, we built BigCouch we decided to make it open source but keep it in its own repository because we were uncertain about how to make it work in the main Apache CouchDB project,” says Cloudant co-founder and President Alan Hoffman.

Last November, a poster on Hacker News noticed that according to Google Trends, CouchDB was declining in search popularity. Cloudant employee Tim Anglade speculated that it might have something to do with the fracturing of the CouchDB project between Couchbase Single Server, BigCouch and the original Apache project and the fact that neither Couchbase nor Cloudant were evangalising CouchDB.

Later that month, following the announcement that Canonical would replace CouchDB in Ubuntu One as its solution for syncing structured data, Couchbase SVP of Product James Phillips told me that the company no longer had any business interest in CouchDB. Shortly after, the company announced that it was ending its Couchbase Server Single offering. And yesterday, Katz announced that he will no longer contribute to CouchDB and will focus entirely on Couchbase Server.

Cloudant followed Katz’ announcement by announcing that it is contributing its BigCouch features into CouchDB. Since Couchbase Server is very much not CouchDB, there will be at last only one version of CouchDB. That means that moving forward Cloudant’s developement and evangalizing efforts can go fully towards the CouchDB.

Since CouchDB is an Apache project, there has never been an official corporate sponsor, but CouchOne was seen as the “go to” company for CouchDB. Since the merger with Membase (which many refer to as an acquistion of CouchOne by Membase), there’s been a leadership vacuum. And the end of support for CouchDB on the part of Couchbase has also led to uncertainty on the part of enterprise customers.

Couchbase gets to focus on its primary product, CouchDB gets a new sugar daddy, enterprise customers have a new company for support and Cloudant has a bright future ahead. It seems like wins all around.