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Couchbase Cloud takes a new approach to database delivery

Open source NoSQL database vendor Couchbase enters the cloud database market with a database as a service that lets users choose which public cloud vendor they want to use.

Couchbase brought its eponymous NoSQL database to the cloud with the vendor's new Couchbase Cloud service.

With Couchbase Cloud, released Feb. 4 as a private beta, the open-source database vendor, based in Santa Clara, Calif., joined a vibrant trend that has seen other vendors embrace the DBaaS (database as a service) model in recent months.

By heading to the cloud, database vendors are looking to make it easier for users to get started, while providing a managed service that handles scalability concerns.

Besides Couchbase, vendors with new DBaaS products include MemSQL, TigerGraph and Yellowbrick Data.

The Couchbase Cloud approach is somewhat different than other database vendors, in several ways. Instead of offering a single service that runs on a specific public cloud provider, users can choose to run Couchbase Cloud in the cloud of their choice.

The flexible deployment options are a key point of differentiation for Couchbase, said Gartner analyst Sanjeev Mohan.

"Couchbase has a well-thought out DBaaS story," Mohan said.

Mohan noted that Couchbase is offering flexible deployment options, with the Couchbase Server and data residing in the clients own Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) while the control plane resides in the Couchbase VPC.

"The centralized control plane allows the users to manage and operate their Couchbase database deployments irrespective of the public cloud vendor," Mohan said."

Dashboard view of Couchbase Cloud
Dashboard view of Couchbase Cloud

Getting started with Couchbase Cloud

With many database as a service offerings, users simply sign up for a service and do not choose which cloud the service is running on.

The primary web portal for Couchbase Cloud is essentially a control plane that shows administrators all the Couchbase instances they may have running across different cloud providers, said Rahul Pradhan, senior director of product and engineering at Couchbase. The control plane is also where users can choose which cloud provider they want to deploy Couchbase on, whether it's Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

"What the control plane gives you is a single view across multiple cloud providers, so you don't have to go with the AWS, Azure or GCP marketplaces," Pradhan said.

Though Couchbase Cloud users don't have to go through public cloud vendor marketplaces to get set up, they have to use their own credentials at the given provider in order to get started.

Couchbase is not reselling the compute or storage capacity for the users' cloud of choice, Pradhan noted. Rather, he said Couchbase is allowing users to choose their cloud provider and then pay the cloud provider for the capacity they use, with Couchbase billing for use of the database control plane over a period of time.

Many Couchbase customers have existing agreements with cloud providers, including reserved instances and pricing, Pradhan added.

"A lot of customers identified as a pain point the fact that when they go to some of the other databases service offerings, they are they are essentially paying a markup for the compute services that they are consuming," Pradhan said.

Couchbase Cloud built with autonomous Kubernetes operator

From an infrastructure perspective, the way that Couchbase is enabling its multi-cloud service is with the Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Pradhan explained that Couchbase is using an autonomous Kubernetes operator, a mechanism to deploy, manage and update Couchbase database instances.

The multi-cloud approach will also help to enable high availability and failover for Couchbase Cloud. That feature is not in the general availability release expected in summer 2020, but rather will be added at some point later this year.

Multi-cloud Couchbase database high availability would work by having users set up two clusters, each within a different cloud provider. Both clusters would then have data replication and synchronization to enable the high availability.

Couchbase Cloud beta based on Couchbase Server 6.5

The beta preview of Couchbase Cloud is based on the Couchbase Server 6.5 release that became generally available on Jan. 21. Couchbase Server 6.5 adds multiple features to the NoSQL database platform including distributed ACID transactions as well as query enhancements.

What will happen over time is the cloud version of Couchbase could get certain features before they become generally available in a Couchbase Server release, Pradhan said. For example, Pradhan noted that control plane features that enhance multi-cloud capabilities will come faster to the Couchbase Cloud than the server releases.

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