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CouchDB daddy unplugs from Apache hive

'It's not personal, it's business'

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Updated CouchDB’s founder is “moving on” from the Apache project he founded to build a "better" and commercially successful version of his NoSQL database without Apache's democratic foot-dragging.

Damien Katz has blogged that he and the team from his company, Couchbase, would be shifting their attention from the Apache CouchDB project to Couchbase’s Couchbase Server.

Katz said Couchbase Server is “a product and project with similar capabilities and goals, but more faster, more scalable, more customer and developer focused. And definitely not part of Apache".

Katz started work on CouchDB in 2005 and it became an Apache Software Foundation (ASF) project in 2008.

Katz said the ASF had provided a "consensus based" developer community that has helped govern and move the project forward. It has now out-grown this slow-moving community based approach, according to Katz.

"In my opinion it's reached a point where the consensus based approach has limited the competitiveness of the project. It's not personal, it's business," Katz said.

Katz said he’s now coding on the next version of Couchbase.

He blogged: "I'm dead serious about making it the easiest, fastest and most reliable NoSQL database. Easy for developers to use, easy to deploy, reliable on single machines or large clusters, and fast as hell. We are building something you can put your mission critical, customer facing business data on, and not feel like you're running a dirty hack."

Couchbase Server is the new name for Couchbase's existing Membase Server product – a key-value database management system. Membase Server was brought into Katz's company – then called CouchOne – through a merger with a Membase start-up called, ahem, Membase, in 2011. The resulting company was re-branded Couchbase.

It now sounds like Couchbase Server code will become divorced from the official CouchDB project.

The Couchbase blog here says that Couchbase Server will feature additional index and query functionality and include "substantial technology from the CouchDB project in version 2.0. But "it will not be upward compatible with CouchDB and it shouldn't be viewed as a 'version' of CouchDB".

Couchbase this month also plans on stopping development of its own CouchDB distribution, called Couchbase Single Server. Katz's company will contribute the packaging and documentation from its distro back to Apache.

The switch comes after one high-profile CouchDB user said it was abandoning the NoSQL store for its cloud. Ubuntu-shop Canonical had adopted CouchDB to underpin its Ubuntu One music service but in November 2011 said it was giving up on CouchDB after three years trying to make the store work properly at scale.

Canonical's John Rowland Lenton wrote at the time: "We were thus unable to make CouchDB scale up to the millions of users and databases we have in our data centers, and furthermore we were unable to make it scale down to be a reasonable load on small client machines."

Canonical was one of four big names trotted out by Katz in September 2010 as CouchDB users. The others were Apple, the BBC and Mozilla. He added that there were a grand total of 1.5 million CouchDB users.

Apache CouchDB member Noah Slater has tried to re-assure users about the project's future. In a blog post here he downplayed Katz's recent, day-to-day involvement saying he'd "had very little involvement in the CouchDB project for a year or more now." He continued that Apache members will be voting for a new committer and appoint a new PMC member, along with sprucing up the website, and making a major new release.">®

Bootnote

CouchDB software specialist Cloudant has announced that it plans to contribute its BigCouch version of CouchDB, which features a built-in horizontal clustering framework to Apache to help tackle scaling.

Cloudant founder and chief technology officer and Apache member Adam Kocoloski blogged here that his company intends to continue devoting resources to Apache CouchDB and offer help in any way the community desires.

Announcing the BigCouch news, he said:

"Working with the ASF and the CouchDB community, we hope to integrate the core capabilities of BigCouch into Apache CouchDB. Hopefully this will put to rest the tired (and false) 'CouchDB doesn't scale' meme. BigCouch forms the bedrock of a globally distributed, sophisticated technology stack that we've had in production operation for over two years at scale."

This article has been updated to include comment from Noah Slater.

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