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June 8, 2020

Couchbase Nabs $105M as it Readies Cloud Offering


Armed with $105 million in fresh venture funding, NoSQL vendor Couchbase is ramping up to make a big splash in the cloud, which has become the new battleground for databases. While gunning for cloud NoSQL supremacy, the company is also hoping to differentiate itself with edge, IoT, and analytics capabilities.

Expected to debut on AWS in early summer, the Couchbase Cloud will be unlike other NoSQL offerings running on the public cloud, says Jeff Morris, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Couchbase.

“It’s going to be the full power of Couchbase Server, delivered as fully managed as a service, installed inside the customer’s VPC [virtual private cloud],” Morris says. “It will be massively scalable, automatically upgradeable, and elastically expanding and contracting based on workload.”

Running in a VPC, rather than running on virtual servers that Couchbase leases from the cloud provider, is an emerging best practice that puts Couchbase ahead of the game, Morris says.

“Rather than my buying the hardware or the infrastructure and passing those expenses onto the customer, they’re actually the ones choosing and investing in the infrastructure,” he tells Datanami. “They can use their buying power, their negotiated discounts, with the cloud provider in determining what their clusters are going to be.”

Many Couchbase customers have multiple clusters, running either on-prem, in the cloud, or both. Couchbase will provide a control plane that allows them to manage all of their clusters and replicate data from one location to another, from a single pane of glass.

(Michael Vi/Shutterstock)

“We feel like our real competitive edge is going to be not only in this VPC-style deployment, which gives control over security and sovereignty of their data,” he says. “But also in your ability to control cost, because you control how you negotiate with your vendor for the infrastructure. You can specifically tune your application to the performance of your environment.”

Couchbase has already done much of the hard work in preparing for Couchbase Cloud, which was unveiled in beta form earlier this year after nearly two years of development. That includes developing a Kubernetes operator that lets the NoSQL database run in a containerized environment. The Kubernetes operator works on the public cloud and private clouds running on customers’ own hardware.

The company also unveiled support for ACID transactions across distributed clusters with the launch of Couchbase Servers version 6.5 at the beginning of 2020. That gives the NoSQL database a leg up on its competitors, Morris says.

“Where most of the other NoSQL or document-style databases continue to be eventually consistent in their write updating exercises, we’ve set ourselves up so we can be ACID across distributed transactions,” he says. “That’s a lot of work both inside the database, as well as our SDK [software development kit] for folks building applications on top of Couchbase, for folks doing mobile activity as well.”

Two years ago, Couchbase was focused intently on being the database underlying systems of engagement that interact with consumers on Web and mobile applications. There are 1,000 more customer engagements to process compared to transactions to process, the company says, which gives you an idea on the scope of the investment needed to fully meet customer expectations in the modern age.

While it hasn’t given up on being the system of engagement, Couchbase’s embrace of ACID transactions shows that it’s now competing more aggressively to host the more valuable transactional workloads on its NoSQL database, which is a hybrid of a JSON-based document store and a “memory first” key-value store, Morris says.

“We are getting more and more transactional,” he says. “With the ACID capabilities coming out in version 6.5 that really ascends us into the space, to be not only operational and transactionally quick, but also becoming the system of record in the engagement types of system.”

Matt Cain completed his first round of venture funding at Couchbase since taking over as CEO and president in 2017

The company is also chasing mobile and IoT database opportunities with Couchbase Mobile and Couchbase Lite, its embedded databases. And on the analytics front, Couchbase is finding traction with the Analytics Services, which emulates an MPP-style column-oriented database. Other add-ons, like full-text search and its stored procedures-like capabilities, help to round out the data platform.

Couchbase is one of a handful of tech companies that has bucked the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic shutdown, and continued to raise substantial amounts of money to grow its business during uncertain times. Its oversubscribed Series G round, announced on May 21, was led by GPI Capital also included participation from existing investors. The company did not disclose its valuation; it has previously been valued in the $100 million to $300 million range.

“We are excited to partner with Couchbase and view Couchbase Server’s highly performant, distributed architecture as purpose-built to support mission critical use cases at scale,” GPI Capital partner Alex Migon and a new member of Couchbase’s board, stated in a press release. “Couchbase has developed a truly enterprise grade product, with leading support for cutting-edge application development and deployment needs.  We are thrilled to contribute to the next stage of the company’s growth.”

With around 500 customers, including 30% of the Fortune 100, Couchbase certainly has some market traction. It has $100 million in committed annual recurring revenue and enjoyed 35% growth in average subscription size during the last fiscal year. Those are all positive figures, but the company has so far failed to dent the growth of the big dog in the NoSQL space, MongoDB, which claims to have 17,000 paying customers and boasts a $12-billion market capitalization.

But with its Couchbase Cloud offering, Kubernetes operator, multi-document ACID support, analytics, and mobile/edge capabilities, Couchbase feels that it’s ready to go head-to-head with anybody in the market.

“Mongo’s big advantage is they’ve had Atlas in the market a lot longer than we have, but we feel that as Couchbase Cloud comes up, we’re going to give them a really good run for the money,” Morris says. “We feel, number one, on a price performance basis, when workloads get really large or when the demands of the application against the database are extremely tight, we have great stories there for customer.”

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