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Database upstart NuoDB 'Blackbirds' spread wings, fly into version 2

New release stresses geo-distribution, SQL capabilities

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Startup NuoDB has released version 2 of its "emergent" database bringing with it greater SQL compatibility and more advanced geo-distribution.

The "Blackbirds" release was announced by the company on Wednesday and brings with it automated administration, stored Java procedures, along with SQL and geographical technologies.

NuoDB was founded by database pioneer Jim Starkey along with chief executive Barry Morris. What sets the system apart from other databases is its "emergent" property that lets multiple database nodes function as one through its clever transaction engines, or so says the company.

For instance, NuoDB is able to distribute a single logical database across multiple databases in multiple regions through its multi-version concurrency control technology, which lets it do away from the latency involved in rigorous locking by instead versioning everything and updating on that basis.

"Everything is versioned so there's no specific locking protocol," says NuoDB chief technology officer Seth Proctor. "What we have is a mechanism for saying when you're trying to do an update – trying to change a version of any object in the system – there is a node mediator."

This mediator takes the cached version of information and compares it with other caches if need be then pushes the change through. More often than not, NuoDB says data will tend to have a degree of locality, saving the system from the need to check globally.

"You always have data consistency and availability, but you're not paying a synchronous round trip cost going across those data centers," Proctor said.

Other systems that have implemented geographic distribution in their DB engines include TransLattice via the TransLattice Elastic Database, and Google via its Spanner engine.

'Automated administration'

Along with the geographical features, the company has also added in a capability called "automated administration" which provides a management console that lets admins define data policies, rules and SLAs, and then will help them create the database cluster.

"I often tell customers a minimal database when you're deploying NuoDB is to run the software off four physically separate machines," Proctor says. "Across two you run a transaction engine, on the other two hosts you run what we call storage managers. By doing that deployment you get a fully ACID database where any of those four hosts can fail and you're still guaranteed a complete copy of database and guaranteed complete access from SQL client's point of view. That's a single thing you can make or click in our UI and say 'I want one of those databases running'".

The company has also added in a feature called "stored procedure functionality" which lets admins write triggered or stored procedures in Java, letting them embed control in the transactional tier. Potential applications of this could include embedding security rules into the database. This is related to efforts made by NoSQL behemoth MongoDB to add in-database analytics and trigger functions to its eponymous DB.

"We're not trying to build a piece of software that is targeting someone running MySQL or Oracle on a single machine and wants a slightly better DB," Proctor says. "We think we have a DB that is easily competitive in terms of performance and features - our focus really is on the next generation systems where people either scale out for increased throughput or high availability."

Pricing for NuoDB is split across Pro and Enterprise. Pro lets you scale out "one or more databases across tens and hundreds of machines within a geographic region" and costs $20,000 per year, with additional hosts costing $4,000 a year. The Enterprise addition has the same features, plus the geographic distribution, and starts at $30,000 a year. ®

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