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October 21, 2013

Security-Minded NoSQL Vendor Sqrrl Gets a Nut

Isaac Lopez

Acumulo database developer Sqrrl showed that the appetite for funding the seemingly endless array of NoSQL databases has not hit a satiation point yet. The Cambridge, Massachusets team that created the Apache Accumulo database say they’ve taken in a $5.2 million series A round of venture funding.

For those not familiar with Sqrrl, the company spun out of the National Security Agency (NSA) with its take on Google’s Big Table database. Built on top of Apache Hadoop, Accumulo is equipped with security as a priority, through the implementation of what Sqrrl calls “cell-level security.”

The cell level security scheme applies visibility labels (better known as access controls) to every data object ingested into the database. The labels are integrated with the data into the system using a relatively lightweight framework that uses caching and compression that enables it to operate securely without burdensome performance degradation.

Outside of the labeling engine, the platform also leverages a policy engine, as well as data encryption, giving it a broad range of security features like one would expect from a database coming out of the NSA. An immutable log of all action taken place in the database, and an authentication interface that enables the use of Active Directory, LDAP, and Kerberos round out the security layout of the Accumulo NoSQL framework.

The platform itself is very flexible, doing triple duty as a column store, document store, and graph store database. However, as you might guess from a company aimed at providing NoSQL capabilities with security as a top priority, its customers aren’t rushing to the spotlight to share how the technology is being used.

The platform is getting traction enough, however, to attract fresh venture funding. Following a 2012 seed round at the beat of $2 million, the company has landed fresh support from its existing investors, Atlas Venture, and Matrix Partners. The new round, at $5.2 million, brings the company’s war chest to $7.2 million which the company says they will be using to further commercialize the NSA’s NoSQL database in markets including energy, finance, government, healthcare, and telecommunications.

“With the level of interest we are seeing in our rapidly growing base of large enterprise customers, we are excited about the enormous market opportunity in front of us,” said Mark Terenzoni, CEO of Sqrrl in a statement. “The funding enables us to accelerate the growth of our sales and support organizations to meet the growing demand for our platform. At the same time we will continue to build our engineer team and develop innovative product features.”

Along with the new round of funding, the company announced the most recent version of its Sqrrl Enterprise product, Version 1.2. In addition to updates to its labeling engine, it also includes new integration with the Blueprints API for graph storage and query, as well as improvements to the Sqrrl Query Language (SqrrlQL), which the company says will provide for faster querying capabilities.

The recent funding announcement comes on the heels of a recent announcement by Hadoop distro vendor Cloudera, which says it will be providing formal support and integration with Apache Accumulo. “[Accumulo] offers a strong complement to HBase, which has been part of our CDH offering since 2010, and remains the dominant high-performance delivery engine for NoSQL workloads running on Hadoop,” said Mike Olson, Chief Strategy officer at Cloudera. 

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