What open source DB is shipped along with Ubuntu and so is on millions of computers today? If you guessed MySQL you lose. If you guessed CouchDB you are today's lucky winner. Yes, thats right, CouchDB is shipped with every version of Ubuntu and in terms of computers with it loaded on may be the biggest of the open source databases. I recently had a chance to speak with Damien Katz the founder and original developer for the CouchDB project and CouchOne (formerly Couchio) the commercial entity he started.
CouchDB started in 2005 as a storage system for a large scale object database”. Couch being an acronym for Cluster Of Unreliable Commodity Hardware. It was designed from the ground up to serve web applications and was written using the Erlang OTP platform because of its world-class reliability and concurrency. From such stuff are legends born ;-)
Katz's background was with IBM Domino, the old Lotus Notes platform. He wanted to create something that would give you that kind of functionality without the all of the added weight and complexity. So was born CouchDB. CouchDB caught on. In 2008, it became a top-level Apache project maintained at the Apache Software Foundation. This gave it real creditably and the numbers really picked up. In 2009 Damien and a few others formed a commercial entity around CouchDB which was originally called Couchio. They changed the name to CouchOne and have taken in a few million dollars of funding by Redpoint Ventures. Based in Oakland CouchOne is focused on the mobile market.
Unlike many commercial entities that are built around an open source project, CouchOne is not just about service and support of CouchDB. What CouchOne is offering is hosted, cloud based CouchDB instances. With support for most mobile platforms, this allows you to sync data and databases across the multiple platforms in the cloud. With over 3500 developers already using the service CloudOne appears to have found its target.
Katz describes CouchDB as somewhere in between Membase and MySQL. It is used a ton in Wikis and personal productivity apps, but the real emphasis on CouchOne is mobile. With such a large installed based and the growth in the mobile market, CouchOne could become a major player in the open source DB market. To think from a cluster of unreliable commodity hardware comes a new open source powerhouse.