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CIA ups stake in database-as-a-service firm

Cloudant trousers $12m, opens San Francisco office

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The CIA has maintained its influence over Cloudant by upping its investment in the database-as-a-service firm.

The $12m funding round sees Cloudant's existing investors In-Q-Tel*, Avalon Ventures, and Samsung Venture Investment Corporation up their shares in the company, and new investors Fidelity Investments, Rackspace Hosting, and Toba Capital have piled in as well, the company announced on Tuesday.

Cloudant will use the money to expand globally via a new office in San Francisco and staff around the world, increase the range of data centers its CouchDB-based DBaaS (database-as-a-service) is offered out of, and expand software capabilities of its product.

The company employs 60 people at the moment, and will use the money to hire another "30 to 40 roles" in engineering, operations, sales, and sales engineering, the company's chief Derek Schoettle told The Register. It plans a major expansion in Asia, and has recently hired a country manager in South Korea.

"Those jobs will be across Asia, the US, and the UK, but I expect roughly half of them to be in our Boston headquarters," Schoettle said.

Cloudant does not operate its own data centers. Instead it serves its DBaaS out of partner clouds operated by Rackspace, AWS, SoftLayer, Windows Azure, and (recently) Joyent. "We'd like to see increased presence in Europe, as well as data center locations in China and South America," Schoettle said.

As for software, the company is now pursuing features relating to "sophisticated geospatial indexing, Lucene-based search, embedded databases on mobile devices, database compaction, faster network performance, user experience design, and improved core database software," he said.

To date Cloudant has taken in $16m. Its most recent news announcement was a tie-up with specialist cloud service Joyent. ®

* Bootnote:

In-Q-Tel is the investment arm of the CIA and other spook organizations. It was founded in 1999 "to bridge the gap between the technology needs of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and new advances in commercial technology," according to its website.

This makes In-Q-Tel investments marginally more interesting than those made by other companies and investors, as it implies that the company being invested in has some tech the alphabet agencies would like to use, clone, or keep an eye on.

Other In-Q-Tel investments include Hadoop experts Cloudera, MongoDB-steward 10Gen, and HP-acquired Arcsight.

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