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Couchbase promises P2P sync in mobile and edge DB

NoSQL slinger sees future in edge and IoT – and 'eventual consistency'

NoSQL database vendor Couchbase is about to launch the third upgrade to its mobile database, with new features promising REST-based remote administration support for large multi-tenant edge applications.

The future release will allow developers to embed lightweight data storage directly into applications on mobile and other "edge" devices such as those in IoT setups.

The new system offers the advantage of giving developers a single, coherent database whether applications were hosted in the cloud or end-user or edge devices, one industry analyst said.

Couchbase is a document-oriented database that uses JSON. Wayne Carter, Couchbase's vice president of engineering, said the approach was particularly suited to mobile and edge applications compared with relational databases.

"There is a fundamental difference at a consistency level," he said. "Our database – and many other NoSQL systems – go for eventual consistency instead of immediate consistency. What this allows you to do is distributed.

"Any time you go distributed, that means you have a network connection between two parts of the system. And when there's a network connection – if it's down or slow – then your system will either be unavailable or slow.

"By relaxing consistency, you're able to allow the systems to operate at their full speed and full availability at each independent distributed node in the system. In mobile and IoT, you're dealing with fundamentally unreliable networks."

Couchbase Mobile 3, in C, is set to be available for Ubuntu, Rasberry Pi, Debian, Windows 10, Android, iOS and macOS. Other operating systems will be supported in C#, Java, Swift and ObjC.

"Developers will be able to build applications on the same database, are using the same programming paradigms. They're using the same simple, SQL interface that we have across all our entire database platform," Carter said.

IDC estimates that the global market for so-called edge computing will reach $176bn in 2022, which is up nearly 15 per cent on 2021.

Dave McCarthy, IDC research vice president for cloud and edge infrastructure, told The Register that developers were driving demand for NoSQL databases.

"It's somewhat in response to the pace of innovation that they are being asked to deliver on, plus the diversity of data types," he said.

"More companies are adopting a NoSQL approach when they're building modern applications, mainly because it frees the developer to have more flexibility in how they store data and how they use it."

He said that the Couchbase mobile announcement offered both flexibility in deployment architectures and compatibility with existing environments.

"I think it's developers that have already decided that this is a good approach for them and the way they want to develop applications, but they want more, they want to be able to extend that capability outside of these cloud environments into these more distributed deployment locations."

Couchbase Mobile 3 deploys a Sync Gateway on the edge or mobile device, as well as the database itself, to allow developers to control how devices share data between devices and with a cloud-based system.

"The fact that it's modular in such a way that both of those components can run directly on a mobile device itself enables a really unique scenario around peer-to-peer syncing between devices," McCarthy said.

For example, an airline could digitise their pre-flight check process by embedding Couchbase onto tablets for recording inspections and synchronise across tablets in real-time, even disconnected from a central database, the company said.

"That's novel and I think there's a lot of scenarios like that, where it would be useful," McCarthy said.

Couchbase said "significant parts" of the source code for Mobile 3 is open source, licensed under BSL. More details are available here. ®

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