SQL database start-up flings out code peanuts to tempt biz

Sniffing around for somewhere to stash your Big Data?

Flock of birds

NuoDB, a start-up which claims to be offering the industry’s only "emergent" elastically scalable database, has made the firm's beta trial available to the public via a freemium business model. It plans to launch the product by the end of the year.

NuoDB was founded by relational database guru Jim Starkey and CEO Barry Morris. He based the architecture of the product, which is also called NuoDB, on the principle of emergence, and Morris told a press party about this earlier in the year.

Morris quoted Wikipedia:

An emergent behaviour can appear when a number of simple entities operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviours as a collective.

The metaphor used by NuoDB likened the software's architecture to the behaviour of a flock of birds, where individual birds appear to subsume their identity in the flock, which flies and changes direction as one single entity. By extension, a scale-out group of database nodes could act as a single database entity, sharing the data storage and access request processing. It's essentially an asynchronous, peer-to-peer, decentralised database architecture.

A patent application has been filed and it states:

A multi-user, elastic, on-demand, distributed relational database management system. The database is fragmented into distributed objects called atoms. Any change to a copy of an atom at one location is replicated to all other locations containing a copy of that atom. Transactional managers operate to satisfy the properties of atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability. [ACID]*

NuoDB created a briefing presentation and it is available here (PDF). The main points start from a NuoDB system having three entities:

  • a broker - which receives JDBC, ODBC and SQL requests from applications and is a client load-balancer
  • a transaction engine - a diskless node carrying out ACID transactions, and
  • a storage manager which uses key-value storage (KV-storage).


You can grow the numbers of each of these three components independently.

NuoDB's makers claim it has 100 per cent uptime and say it can be managed from a single console. It is a single logical database, with no sharding or partitioning, and can run anywhere - data centre, public or private cloud or both. It is also geo-distributed, machines are shared dynamically, and the system is multi-tenant.

The key value store can be stored anywhere, as files, using Amazon's S3, or in HDFS. Morris says it is the industry's first and only elastically scaleable database targeted to run on an elastic cloud of computers. It's built for petabyte-scale databases - Morris says traditional databases can't scale that high - and supports hundreds of thousands of users, 20,000 typical transactions per second, and on-demand elasticity.

NuoDB v1.0 should be available in December. Have a play with the downloadable RC1 code here. RDBMS have been around so very long that development has slowed down to a crawl, so these recent developments can only be good news. ®

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