Interview with Perry Krug, Principal Architect at Couchbase

Couchbase and the dynamics of the NoSQL market: “There is life beyond analytical and relational databases”

Gabriela Motroc

2017 has been an interesting year in the NoSQL space. The big data market is full of opportunities but there are also a lot of changes happening right now. We talked with Perry Krug, Principal Architect at Couchbase about the future of the NoSQL space, the market dynamics and what’s next for Couchbase.

JAXenter: It’s been a busy, yet turbulent year in the NoSQL space: There was MongoDB’s successful IPO and the end of the road for Basho. What do you think of these developments? 

Perry Krug: Whichever way you look at it, it’s been an extraordinary year for the NoSQL industry. Market turbulence aside, 2017 was a year of maturity, growth, and success. NoSQL has been a compelling alternative to the traditional database for some time, and global enterprise adoption this year certainly reflects this.

MongoDB’s IPO not only helped validate the NoSQL space but also educate the market to create wider market opportunity. We firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. Contrasting fortunes at Basho, however, shows that this is a much-changed NoSQL market. Not so long ago, there were many vendors like Basho that could survive at the lower end of the market. However, as the space has matured, and bigger players have refined their services and pulled ahead, this is no longer the case.

JAXenter: MongoDB was the first of its kind to go public. What does this mean for the big data market?

Perry Krug: As the first IPO in the non-Hadoop big data space, MongoDB’s was a pivotal milestone for the industry. It provides more validation that there is life beyond analytical and relational databases; it is also indicative of a larger shift in the market, which Couchbase has been seeing, as a strong player in this space for many years.

We see tremendous opportunity in the big data market today, and MongoDB’s IPO is a testament to this. In ten years’ time, we will not look back at this event as a high point for the industry, we’re just getting started.

JAXenter: What does the future hold for the NoSQL space? Any predictions for 2018 and beyond? 

Single database technologies that allow seamless cloud-to-cloud, as well as cloud-to-edge data movement, will be deployed in favor of using multiple point solutions cobbled together.

Perry Krug: Containing the database sprawl will be a mandate. One-trick technology solutions that solve singular customer problems will begin to peel away. To maintain a lasting business strategy, companies need to become a true partner for continual innovation rather than point to solutions that fill niche issues. The cost of integrating numerous solutions to a platform will not be worth the complexity and headache, and the businesses that provide one platform that fills multiple customer needs will thrive. Organizations need to adapt to customer expectations, and having an agile approach to technology will be the key differentiator.

In addition, enterprise movement to the cloud is not showing any signs of slowing, nor is the focus on enabling users (both customers and internal employees) to do more with their phones and home devices instead of their desktops. Single database technologies that allow seamless cloud-to-cloud, as well as cloud-to-edge data movement, will be deployed in favor of using multiple point solutions cobbled together.

JAXenter: Have the dynamics of the NoSQL market changed since Couchbase first launched? 

Perry Krug: Certainly the dynamics of the industry have changed dramatically, but the goal and direction have not. NoSQL databases have been born and died over the last 10 years, new technologies like Kafka and Spark that didn’t even exist are now being deployed at enormous scale, and the demand being put on data to serve the consumer has only accelerated. It is now more clear than ever that the world needs a new class of database purpose-built to take up this challenge much in the same way it needed relational databases to meet a very different set of requirements over 40 years ago.

JAXenter: Is the international big data market still divided into two “camps”: operational data management, led by NoSQL vendors, and analytical data processing, ruled by Hadoop vendors?

Perry Krug: Generally I think this is still the case, but we’re also starting to see that binary classification break down a bit. Operational databases are expected to store larger and larger volumes of data and organizations need analytics to be processed and served faster. We won’t see data warehouses going anyway anytime soon, but the idea of a “data lake” is now being accomplished through the combination of multiple technologies instead of just one.

These include operational NoSQL databases for ingestion, persistence, and presentation of data, streaming technologies for the real-time processing and traditional Hadoop technologies and workloads for offline processing. Faster “time to insight” as user-facing activity happens directly relates to a better user experience and operational efficiencies.

SEE ALSO: Couchbase Server 5.0 is here

JAXenter: How is Couchbase different from other databases? 

Perry Krug: We believe that companies that build on the wrong database foundation will not be able to compete. The Couchbase “engagement database”, however, makes it simple to continually reinvent customer experience and enables customers to maintain a competitive edge. This unique approach taps into dynamic data, at any scale, across any channel or device to enable companies to continually create and recreate customer experiences that are personal and precise. Couchbase also gives developers the freedom to use data in innovative ways – and create new kinds of experiences – without being held back by an inflexible database. Customer experiences can be delivered without interruption, from device to device through data-where-you-need-it capabilities from the edge to the cloud.

We believe that Couchbase’s latest release is currently the best NoSQL database platform.

Winning the customer experience race isn’t simply about managing the ever-increasing complexity but being able to exploit change. But so far, databases have not been optimized for change at such dynamic intensity and scale, and organizations are using a variety of different databases for specific use cases, resulting in unwieldy database sprawl.

For the technical specs, the Couchbase Data Platform is comprised of three technologies: Couchbase Server, a scale-out, document-oriented database with support for key-value operations, SQL-like querying, and built-in full-text search; Couchbase Gateway provides application-layer APIs for RESTful and streaming access to data, as well as internet-facing security; Couchbase Lite, an embedded database for mobile devices and “edge” systems, which also provides key-value operations, SQL-like querying, and full-text search locally on the device. Couchbase Lite supports bi-directional synchronization both to Couchbase Server or peer-to-peer. These three pieces can work in concert with each other, or independently.

In terms of how Couchbase compares to other NoSQL providers, the Couchbase Data Platform delivers unparalleled performance at scale, while also providing the unmatched agility and manageability that today’s businesses require to continually improve their customer experiences. But that’s not just us saying that; we hear from customers who have used other NoSQL services in the past that they selected Couchbase due to challenges they had when trying to support more users and bigger workloads on clusters with multiple nodes.

JAXenter: Couchbase Server 5.0 was released in October — what are its most dramatic changes?

Perry Krug: We believe that Couchbase’s latest release is currently the best NoSQL database platform. Couchbase Server 5.0, along with Couchbase Mobile 1.5, introduces new features that make building rich customer apps easier, including enhancements to N1QL and its visual query tools, multi-datacenter support in the SDK, and adaptive indexing. Integrated full-text search, now GA in 5.0, allows users to build more intelligent apps that deliver richer, more engaging customer experiences.

We’ve also introduced seamless data mobility to extend existing Couchbase deployments to the edge. Performance and reliability have been increased across the board along with faster failover, automatic index replication and the introduction of a completely in-memory database mode – all empowering more reliable and predictable operations and customer experiences. Last but not least, Couchbase Server 5.0 brings a wealth of security enhancements including role-based access control.

It’s early days still, but customers are already running these versions in production and have cited improvements in customer experience, faster innovation, quicker time-to-market, and operational and infrastructure cost reduction.

SEE ALSO: Top databases in 2017: Trends for SQL, NoSQL, Big Data, Fast Data

JAXenter: What are the challenges with Couchbase? 

Perry Krug: Couchbase is designed for interactive, always-on applications; it is not an offline analytics, data-warehouse, or archival storage system. We wouldn’t ever tell customers to use Couchbase for use cases it wasn’t designed for. We know they exist and that there will always be a place for relational and analytical databases. I’m not sure if it’s a challenge as such, but our database was created to solve a different set of problems.

We are not trying to be perfect at everything, but we do believe that modern applications need a platform which can provide a variety of capabilities in order to engage with its users. The Couchbase platform is the only database technology built from the ground-up for web, mobile and IoT applications, with native support for running in the cloud and containerized technologies. We are the only database technology to combine concepts such as a built-in managed caching layer with deep JSON support, SQL-like querying and indexing, full-text search, and mobile synchronization.

JAXenter: What’s next for Couchbase?

Perry Krug: We are building a world-class software company that enables companies to provide a revolutionary customer experience and fundamentally surpass the types of digital experiences we are seeing today. As such, the Couchbase platform has a robust roadmap focusing on innovation up and down the application stack. We are bringing enhanced analytics capabilities – as well as indexing, storage, and eventing improvements, over the coming years.

Thank you!

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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