Another day, another new database management system. This time around, it's a company called NuoDB offering a DBMS called... NuoDB.
The former describes the latter as an SQL-compliant database manager that guarantees ACID transactions, and relying on a shared-nothing, peer-to-peer design, is able to scale horizontally to handle extremely high volumes of transactions. Indeed, the company, based in Cambridge, Mass., claims that running on a measly $50,000 worth of commodity hardware, with 24 processing nodes, its code has been shown to process more than 1 million transactions per second.
All this puts NuoDB squarely in the NewSQL category, a sector of the DBMS market that is seeing strong growth, at least in terms of product and company launches if not annual revenues. Evidently, the even larger and more mature set of NoSQL database managers lack certain vital functions and characteristics, such as ACID compliance, that traditional relational DBMS (think Oracle, MySQL, Sybase) are renowned for.
The trick, it seems, is to maintain ACID compliance while distributing database functions across a gang of processors, and do that in a way that enables scaling and maintains resiliency against hardware and network faults. (Processing nodes may or may not be under the same roof, for instance.)
Database guru Curt Monash includes in the NewSQL club suppliers such as (in no particular order) Akiban, GenieDB, Tokutek, CodeFutures, Clustrix, Schooner, VoltDB, ScaleBase, and ScaleDB.
And now, there's NuoDB, a venture-backed startup (one of its backers is Gary Morgenthaler, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures who has previously co-founded and honchoed DBMS companies Illustra and Ingres) that boldly claims to have performed a "complete re-think of relational databases." The result of this exercise is something the firm describes as an "emergent" architecture in which everything is conceived of as an "atom" and which as a whole enables the system to scale without missing a beat, even as it's processing streams of transactions.
NuoDB even claims to have superceded the rules of relational DBMS that Ted Codd chiseled into stone many moons ago, a baker's dozen of characteristics that the IBM researcher set forth as defining the mathematical essence of the relational model. Codd was determined, of course, to discourage the software industry from taking his newly-coined term "relational" and slapping it onto any old DBMS product -- which at least one company, called Cullinane, did anyway. But here's NuoDB publishing its own list of rules designed, it says, to codify a "New Age" of cloud-based relational DBMS.
Monash, who has NuoDB as a client, has been given a look under the hood, and has analyzed NuoDB's architecture and claims, concludes that "no new DBMS could possibly justify NuoDB's hype. But NuoDB is an interesting new product for the cloud era."
NuoDB claims Autozone, a retail chain, as one of its early customers. And the application that company is building with the new DBMS is not, as one might assume, an e-commerce app handling zillions of transactions per second. It's a next-generation digital signage system that will extend across some 5,000 stores in North America, Mexico, and Brazil. The DBMS's ability to manage many local databases scattered across this network of stores and create the illusion of a single, centrally-administered database, is the product's main draw, according to a press release quoting Autozone CIO Ron Griffin.
In any case, NewSQL is one corner of the DBMS market to keep an eye on, a hotbed of activity and new thinking -- and lots of jockeying for attention.