Jan28

The world of cloud databases may never be the same again

The traditional world of databases which house arcane customer records, inventory, your Facebook profiles and Google listings are being shook up by the increasing popularity of a new kind of data model called NoSQL.

This disruptive technology scorns a world of structured data relationships and forces a change in the way computer programmers and database administrators view information.

It may well be the perfect foil for cloud computing which is transforming on-premise IT departments.

New application start ups like CouchDB are using something called replication via a peer-to-peer model (Think Napster) to replicate information instantly between different websites, applications and devices.

For instance, the entire customer Rolodex in a cloud CRM system like Salesforce.com could be instantaneously replicated to a local mobile device or laptop.

For decades web developers and programmers have data mined traditional databases such as mySQL and SQL server using a language called SQL to add, modify and delete records.

CouchDB does something radically different. It cuts the lines of code needed to perform these operations by up to 90% and uses a replication model to mine haphazard data such as documents or files to make sense of the information universe.

This document-oriented database is written in an old language called Erlang, which has been used for years to manipulate telephone switches.

Instead of mySQL the cloud programmer of the future must familiarize himself with something called ‘views’ to make sense of the data.

If a network of sites share information using the CouchDB model they would continue to operate even if one of the sites went down.

One implication of the scenario above is that if you are no longer satisfied with your web host, for example, Amazon web services, you can automatically replicate data to your local device or to another hosting company instantly.

No downtime. No hassle.

In essence, this mirrors the self-healing nature of private and public virtual dedicated servers offered by Virtual Internet.

And, since the rise of cloud computing goes hand in hand with the surge in mobile devices, CouchDB is perfect for mobile app development because it occupies a tiny data footprint.

What it lacks in precision it makes up for by being light, nimble and hyper-fast.

If Wikileaks had been built using this replication model there would be virtually no chance the site would ever go down unless government agencies acted unilaterally to shut down all sites at once consuming the CouchDB technology. This would be challenging!

It remains to be seen just how far this new application will challenge the traditional database world but it implies true data independence for IT departments investigating public and private clouds.

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