New Couchbase Release Bridges SQL-NoSQL Database Worlds

NoSQL database vendor Couchbase has developed a SQL query language that will help developers with SQL expertise -- and there are millions of them -- build enterprise web, mobile and Internet-of-Things applications that run on the Couchbase Server.

Couchbase is previewing the new N1QL (pronounced "nickel") language at its Couchbase Connect user conference in Santa Clara, Calif., this week. The company also is previewing a beta of the 4.0 release of Couchbase Server at the event.

Couchbase, based in Mountain View, Calif., is one of a number of companies that market NoSQL databases as alternatives to relational database software, such as the Oracle Database and Microsoft's SQL Server. NoSQL databases, backers say, are more scalable and better able to handle semistructured data and documents.

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"We think NoSQL is a better fit for web, mobile and IoT applications," said Bob Wiederhold, Couchbase CEO, in an interview. The 4.0 release and the N1QL language "will dramatically expand these case and application types for which we are appropriate."

SQL is more than 40 years old and is used by millions of programmers around the world to build applications that access data stored in relational databases. N1QL leverages SQL constructs, making it familiar to those developers, while also extending the SQL syntax to support the Couchbase Server's JSON data modeling architecture.

The result is that programmers with SQL experience can now more easily develop applications with more complex queries for Couchbase and, the company hopes, accelerate its adoption by businesses.

"N1QL is making it much easier for businesses to develop and run applications for these web, mobile and IoT applications," Wiederhold said. N1QL has been in development for two years, the CEO added.

The new language also is expected to help grow Couchbase's already rapidly expanding ecosystem of systems integrators, implementation consultants, technology partners and data storage technology partners.

One such partner, Avalon Consulting, has been working with the N1QL technology for about six months as part of the Plano, Texas-based company's expansion beyond its Hadoop-related services into NoSQL technologies.

Consultant and principal evangelist Kurt Cagle, while describing his company's work with Couchbase as "still very exploratory," said the NoSQL database makes a good midtier system to hold cached applications that run with back-end Hadoop systems. "We've been very impressed with what we've seen," he said.

"It's a good language for people who are already familiar with SQL," concurred Casey Green, Avalon's executive vice president of corporate strategy. And it opens the Couchbase NoSQL database up to more business analytics tools. "I think that's huge myself."

Green said NoSQL databases are maturing, moving beyond data storage to performing more data integration and processing tasks. The company also partners with NoSQL database vendor MarkLogic.

In addition to N1QL, Couchbase Server 4.0 includes multidimensional scaling capabilities that separate and scale individual query, index and data services to improve application performance and increase resource utilization. The new release also includes the ForestDB storage engine that supports multicore processors and solid-state drives.

N1QL, now in beta, will be part of the Couchbase Server 4.0 release later this summer. It also will be added to the Couchbase Mobile database software.