June 25, 2014

The Database Cage Match: Redux

Within every market, a leader emerges.

In the 90s, the database market was represented by fierce competition between Sybase, Informix and Oracle. Oracle emerged as the leader. It was a well engineered database, a high performance database, and a general purpose database. It became the enterprise database. It was a relational world.

That was twenty years ago. That was before the rise of social, mobile and big data.

By 2010, the relational database could no longer keep pace with the exponential growth of users and unstructured data. Google, Amazon and Facebook created the first generation of non-relational databases to meet higher performance requirements with scalability. As IBM dominated the mainframe in an era of microcomputers, Oracle is dominating the relational database in an era of non-relational databases. Today, the database market is represented by fierce competition between Couchbase Server, MongoDB, Oracle and MySQL.

What database will emerge as the leader?

The database engineered for the modern enterprise, the most use cases, and the highest performance. This is how Oracle emerged as the database leader in the 90s.

While MongoDB focused on features, Couchbase focused on architecture. There is nothing more important to the evolution of software than its architecture. With a focus on layer consolidation, Couchbase integrated a cache, a key / value store and a document database within a single database. It's the first general purpose database to emerge for the modern enterprise.

With the 2014 NoSQL Benchmark, Couchbase Server has been proven to meet the high performance requirements of a new generation of enterprise applications. This is the result of a singular focus on architecture at Couchbase. MongoDB is showing its age. It's weighed down by technical debt as evidenced by the MongoDB 2.6 release failing to address a well known performance issue: per database locking. Apache Cassandra is failing to meet the performance requirements of enterprises with consistent data requirements. It was a first generation distributed database that was engineered for availability. However, Couchbase Server was engineered for consistency. It proved that performance and consistency are not mutually exclusive. Twenty years later, Oracle remains a relational database in a non-relational world.

Couchbase has set the stage to emerge as the database market leader. The emergence of mobile users, connected machines and big data is leading the enterprise to re-platform and architect for the future. The enterprise has learned that relational databases are not well suited to a world of connected devices and unstructured data. When put to the test, customers like PayPal (link) and Viber (link) have decided to build on Couchbase Server. It's the same conclusion that Beats and other online music services as well as big box retailers building online platforms have come to.

Round 1: Performance

See the results here.

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