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Joyent tools up for Amazon battle

Hopes CouchDB will lure devs away from Bezos's Dynamo

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After almost a year of continuous technical development, Cloudant is taking the wraps off of a database-as-a-service product served out of data centers operated by Joyent – a product that looks to be technically superior to its nearest as-a-service rival, Amazon's DyanamoDB.

The deal was announced on Thursday and will see Cloudant make its CouchDB-based distributed database-as-a-service (DBaaS) available on top of Joyent's cloud.

Cloudant's version of distributed NoSQL database CloudDB wraps in a text-search feature, custom-built indexes, and integrated backup and restore – features that are either difficult to implement in Amazon Web Services' DynamoDB, or in the case of indexes not present.

"You could recreate some of Cloudant's functionality if you took DynamoDB and hooked it in with a search provider or elastic search and added geographic features, and Glacier, and something for archival. You're basically linking together different systems," Cloudant co-founder Alan Hoffman told The Register. "It's more much overhead."

The company, which has taken money from the CIA's investment wing In-Q-Tel and Samsung Ventures, is deepening its collaboration with Joyent to gain customers and also to use the cloud's integrated dynamic tracing ('dtrace') technology to improve the performance of its cloud database. Previously, Cloudant's tech had only been available from within its own data centers, which lack the smart software instrumentation of Joyent's.

Dtrace, along with other analytic components of Joyent's SmartOS cloud system, "allows us as operators of the system to find bugs faster, diagnose user issues faster, and run optimally", Hoffman said. Cloudant would like to expose some of this information to customers via an analytics dashboard eventually, he said, without giving a specific timeline.

Cloudant has already been providing CouchDB as a service from within its own data centers, but believes the combination of its tech with Joyent's clever infrastructure could get developers interested, Hoffman said.

At the time of writing pricing information was not available. Basic Joyent public cloud infrastructure tends to be cost-competitive in AWS in small quantities, but Amazon's bulk-rent discounts can make it cheaper in the long run.

With the Cloudant collaboration, Joyent has taken a lead on Amazon in terms of technical capability, but is still very much the minnow compared to Bezos's whale. ®

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