Category Archives: Reviews

Going Live, Data & Pricing @ Orchestrate

Over the last few months while working on the prototype around Deconstructed I’ve been using the Orchestrate service offering exclusively. With their service around key value and graph store easily accessible via API it was a no brainer to get started building ASAP. Today, that service goes full beta! You can get the full lowdown at the Orchestrate site.

You might recall that I mentioned Orchestrate a while back when they lept into the PIE Class a few months ago. So here’s a few quick thoughts on the release and what Orchestrate is.

The basic premise is Orchestrate provides full-text search, time ordered events, graph, key value storage and a lot more. All of these capabilities are offered via an API that create a product that’s extremely easy to get started. Think about what you’d need to do to get full-text search against a key value setup. Really think about it. Yeah? That’s a lot of steps. With Orchestrate you just sign up and start using it. Think about setting up a graph store and managing it on production systems. Yeah? Lot’s of work once it gets used. Again, just sign up, it’s all there, the graph to the key value to the event series and more. All the NoSQL juice you need located in a single service so you’re not fighting and maintaining multiple databases, nodes or whatever you’re working with.

Sing up. Use.

I will copy one thing from the press release….

  • Ad hoc search queries with Lucene
  • Event and time-ordered storage for activity feeds, sensor data
  • Create and query graph relationships
  • Easy to understand pricing
  • Data export at will – no lock-in
  • Standards compliant data security protocols
  • Daily data backups
  • Bulk data loading
  • Daily and hourly usage monitoring
  • A single, simple interface – JSON data in/out
  • Designed to complement existing databases and MBaaS services
  • Client libraries for Java, Node.js, and Go. More on the way!

Using Orchestrate

There are quotes in the press release, but I’ve got a few myself. I’m working to build out a prototype service that I and Aaron Gray will be releasing soon. Our startup is called Deconstructed, but more on that later. Without Orchestrate my dev cycle would be longer each day, as I battle with maintaining the data sources that I need. Without it I would have spent another 2-3 weeks setting up and staging nosql database technology. All things I didn’t really need to do. I needed to focus on the service, the value that we’ll soon bring to our customers.

It really boils down to this, and don’t get me wrong, I’m a total data nerd. But when it comes to building a product or service, the last thing I want to do is fight with managing the data anymore than I have to. That notion inspired me to write “Sorry Database Nerds, Nobody Actually Gives a Shit” which still holds true. I can’t think of a single business that wants to sit around and grok how an index works in a key value or what the spline of text-search queries is going to be.

Pricing

Pricing is sweet, for many that want to try it out things are free. Prices go up a bit more from there, but if you fall into the pricing you’re doing some business and ought to be rolling in a few bucks eh!

The interesting thing to me about pricing is that they’ve structured it around MOp, which stands for MegaOps. More specifically that’s one million API calls or one million operations.

Summary

If you write code, even a little or if you manage data you should do yourself the service and check out what Orchestrate has built. It’s a solid investment of time. I’ll have a lot more on Orchestrate and how we’re using the service for Deconstructed and more on using the service with JavaScript in the coming months. Keep your eyes peeled and I might even have some Dart and C# magic thrown in there to boot! Check em’ out, until later, happy hacking.

That Was Fun, Done With The Lenovo Carbon X1, Back to GSD!

Over the last couple of months I’ve been double laptoping it. I’ve had a Lenovo Carbon X1 with Windows 8 and Ubuntu dual boot configuration with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and i7 and I had a Mac Book Air (MBA) 8GB, 512GB SSD and i7 Proc. The MBA was my primary work machine with the Lenovo being a secondary machine that I was using to test and build Windows 8 Applications and for building native Linux services and related code work.

Windows 8 Critique

Simply, Windows 8 is one of the most broken operating systems I’ve used since Windows ME. Forget Vista, I consider it officially dethroned. Let me clarify what is and isn’t horrible about Windows 8 though. It isn’t that it technically is a bad operating system, it’s that the idea and approach that Microsoft has taken is inherently flawed at several key points.

First, having a desktop on a tablet, which is almost impossible except for all but the finest of finger pointing tablet users, is blindingly stupid. Just go into any place where there is a Windows 8 tablet user and watch them whacking away when they get into the desktop.

The Windows 8 desktop on a tablet is patently absurd for the vast majority of potential Windows 8 users.

However, the straight Metro Interface of Windows 8 (which Microsoft now calls the Windows 8 interface because of legal reasons) is magnificent for tablet usage. There are a few major things that need fixed: responsiveness related to connection state, update status and the availability of high quality applications. Once those things are fixed Windows 8 will be as competent as iOS or Android in the usability department. Until then, it’s a nice dream, with a small number of usable apps with a huge potential.

Now the desktop is the tried and true classic desktop of Windows. Thus, when you’re on a desktop machine or a laptop with a dedicated pointing device or touch screen the back and forth is fine. Matter of fact it is great! I find myself using the touch screen regularly to do a number of tasks, and hope to see its use increase more and more on a number of platforms (yo Apple, got game on this yet or not, OS-X can definitely use a touch interface).

Overall though, Windows 8 – unless you solely do Windows 8 Development, is not a reason to buy a Lenovo X1 Carbon.

Ubuntu Critique

Minus the touch screen, which Ubuntu has no clue what to do with except treat it like a pointer, this is how you see the real power and beauty of the Lenovo X1 Carbon. Ubuntu loads 2x faster and shuts down 2x faster than Windows 8. Comparable builds in IntelliJ, C, C++, Erlang and other compilers are regularly 1.2-3x faster than on Windows. The servers that one would build against, such as GlassFish (see this for my latest on setting up GlassFish & Java 7) are also routinely faster, more responsive and less prone to difficulty than in Windows.

One of the problems that is ongoing, is it is hard to move to Ubuntu unless you are doing dev. Using Adobe tools is a non-starter, best to stick to slow Windows or get real fast using OS-X. Again though, if it runs on Windows and Linux, I’d take a safe guess that the Linux versions will be faster, probably more stable, and all around it’ll likely work better over time. There is something to that whole unix way about building things. One other big booster for Ubuntu, is writing JavaScript, which I do regularly these days is a much better experience than on Windows. I use standard tools, that usually are available on Windows, but launching Sublime 2 or WebStorm is just faster, noticeably, on Linux versus Windows 8 (or whatever version really).

So overall, if you’re going to get a Linux machine, the Lenovo X1 Carbon is a prime choice. If not one of the best. If I understand correctly, there may even be some solid Linux software out there that would make the touch screen more usable too. So if you’re adventurous you may be able to solve that one single issue that I had with Linux running on the X1.

Would I Give Up My Mac for the X1?

This is easy, the answer is absurdly simple. However I did give up the Mac Book Air I had in parallel with the Lenovo for several months, as it belonged to Basho (which I’ve departed from).

Hell no!!!

Matter of fact, even though I’ve used the laptop extensively with Ubuntu and Windows 8, I’ve just bought a new Mac Book Pro Retina 15″ to do all of my work with Ubuntu, Windows 8 and OS-X. The solidness of the MBP is untouchable compared to the X1. The screen is better, the keyboard is more consistent and easier to type on, the ghost tracking of the track pad is non-existent on the air, versus the X1 Carbon. In this case, I’d even turned off the trackpad entirely on the X1 Carbon. Simply, the X1 Carbon just doesn’t measure up to the Mac Book Pro.

Other observations I’ve made about the two machines. The Mac Book Pro is far more solid, the construction is just not even comparable. The X1 feels solid but compared to the MBP it feels cheap and flimsy. Considering the hardware works flawlessly with the software on the MBP is also no competition. The Carbon regularly needed driver updates, things would flake out and I’d have to restart. This would be prevalent in windows or linux, it didn’t matter. Fortunately a restart would fix it, but none of these issues exist on the MBP, using either OS-X or running a VM with Windows 8 or Ubuntu.

Also, even though the MBP design is over a year old now, the i7, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD makes the X1 Carbon seem like a morbidly out of date, slow and antiquated device even though it is actually a newer device!

So, would I give up my mac for the X1?

PIE’s Third Class, You Better Keep an Eye on These Companies…

There are a number of new startups that have joined the third PIE Class. However there are a few that have stood out to me.

The first startup has to do with the IoT. IoT stands for Internet of Things. I’m a MASSIVE fan of what is being done with IoT. Personally I think it should be the space to watch in regard to the next big moves and big shifts in technology. From a market perspective, there’s some legitimate reasons to watch the IoT space from that view too.

Smart Mocha

With that, Smart Mocha caught my eye immediately. The description reads “Connects monitoring/measurement devices to the Internet of Things, enabling greater and more efficient access to critical data.” Their first product is Sense Simple, which is an “out of box” sensor network. This is interesting, being that existing systems that do what their Sense Simple offering does, are:

  • Dramatically more expensive, easily 10x or more.
  • Complexity in existing systems introduces vastly more points of failure, maintenance issues and other concerns.
  • Often not as capable for integration into other systems, Sense Simple already has “cloud control” – which is a control and device diagnostic tool to provide remote views of the sensor network.
  • All this, via a cellular gateway preconfigured and ready for logging data , multiple sensors, around temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, vibration, sound and more.

As I mentioned above, integration with existing industry standard sensors and the ability of the company to expand this product in the future already exceeds most of the existing offerings in the space. An example, just based on the cell gateway and cloud based control, provides a prime avenue to expand into the API space to provide even more ways to track, report and log data.

Orchestrate.io

The tag line says it all, “Add Features, Not Databases”. Orchestrate.io have designed a simple API, idiomatic client drivers as their site states. All of which enables you to get started trying tout Orchestrate.io rapidly. The goal of Orchestrate.io is to remove the need to manage a disparate array of databases and to instead focus on the data, what you want to do with the data and to develop solutions against that data. Being that it is offered as a Service akin to PaaS, IaaS and other styles of offerings, it provides the ability for you to pay for only what you use.

In today’s marketplace this is extremely ideal for a number of companies and becoming even more ideal for existing companies, legacy data and more. Got data? Check out Orchestrate.io and see if it works for you.

Summary

IoT:  As I was writing above, IoT is definitely shaping up to be a huge deal in the near future. Many industries are moving back to make progress in the physical realm akin to the migrations from ‘foot travel’ to ‘horse travel’ to ‘rail travel’ to ‘air travel’. We’re going to see some huge leaps here, maybe something along the lines of ‘human vision’ to ‘augmented vision’ to ‘perceptual planes vision’. Do you even know what ‘perceptual planes vision’ is? If not, get ready for the future, things might get bumpy! Smart Mocha looks to be positioned in a good place for impact.

Big Data, Data and more data: I’m under the impression I don’t need to elaborate on the notions of big data, but I will. Data has become a major differentiator, more so than even 5-10 years ago. Data has also become an even greater pain while becoming this major advantage. From genomic research to full tracked telemetry data to high volume high scale high quality printing, our new world of big data is here to stay. Orchestrate.io can help you wrap this realm up.

Disclosure: I don’t work for either of these companies, nor am I paid by the city of Portland, but they’re on my radar as I watch Portland’s startup scene and culture. I also live and breath the culture here, I am a Portlandian. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks as other incubators and startups keep rocking and rolling here in the city of Portland, OR.

Resources:

Indirect Resources:

For good coverage of Portland’s artistic side, video quality and some of our current startups and companies, give this Techtown Portland video a watch.

Tech Town Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch

A week ago I received my repaired Lenovo (previously I had written about the first setup of Windows 8 and initial load of Ubuntu Linux). Super stoked, I immediately opened up the box and booted it right there on the spot. I wasn’t sure if Lenovo support had completely wiped and loaded the machine or if it was an entirely new machine. I had specifically stated, do whatever you gotta do, I’ll deal with the operating systems when I get it back – you guys just make sure it comes back on! Within seconds, not only did it boot, but it was booting via the same drive. Thus, all of my goodies were exactly where I left them. They had however, obviously reinstalled Windows 8 and allowed it to blow away the boot loader with it’s own. My boot loader, from my previous installation of Ubuntu provided to option of which OS to boot. The Ubuntu install was still there, just hanging out without a boot loader option. I immediately remedied that with a quick reload of the boot loader so that I could boot into Ubuntu Linux as well as Windows 8. After a few days (exactly 3 days now) here’s what I’ve observed so far using….

Ubuntu Linux on Lenovo X1 Carbon

  • Ubuntu Linux, ready for login.

    Ubuntu Linux, ready for login.

    Ubuntu Linux, and one can assume any Linux, loads faster than Windows 8. Ubuntu commonly loads in 6-8 seconds after entering the password and about 10-12 second to present the login. Windows 8 boots in 20-22 seconds until the login screen and then 5-6 seconds from login until the Metro screen displays. Overall, almost 2x faster than Windows 8 on booting. This is with a very minimal installation of Ubuntu and Windows 8.

  • The keyboard under either operating system feels solid in key press, spacing is good. Similar, but not exactly like the chiklet keyboard of an Apple product. The plastic carbon feel of the keys is just like the rest of the product. This is something one might love or hate. I personally like it. The complaint that I have about the keyboard, isn’t so much the keyboard but some of the standard placements for the trackpad, page up and down buttons, and other various buttons and sensitivities that make odd things happen while you’re typing. It is absolutely a keyboard that you have to get used to in order to use well.
  • There is indeed the little red pointer in the middle of the keyboard. This little pointer is something people either absolutely despise with a passion or love like nothing else. I’m in the later camp. I like it. It’s accurate, if you have nimble fingers and get used to it the pointer is quicker than the trackpad, more accurate than the trackpad, and only becomes less so when using an external pointing device.
  • The trackpad sucks. Ok, so it’s actually a massive improvement over the last X years of trackpads. It has double tap and some odd form of triple tap. It’s however oddly sensitive in certain ways and like a curmudgeonly clumsy brute in others. Overall, for a non-Apple trackpad, it’s actually rather good. But seriously, between the hardware and OS-X combo, I’ll be truly impressed when I get hold of a trackpad that is as effortlessly smooth, easy and accurate as an Apple trackpad. This trackpad on the X1 Carbon is spectacular against almost every device out there except that one.
  • The screen is flippantly weird. Scott Hanselman talks about this in his review also too. The chief culprit seems to be this protective cover that Lenovo puts on the screen, but it isn’t really something one removes without an unwelcome dose of difficulty. Overall, the screen is pretty crisp, but it could be slightly better if the cover wasn’t on the screen.
  • The touch capability of the screen. So back to the pointer device topic, the touch capability steps into an entirely new realm of accuracy. When using Windows 8, the touch capability of the screen is obvious – and necessary – for a truly great Windows 8 experience (great? meh, that’s the word I’m using). In Ubuntu however, the touch screen is an interesting way to make the mouse cursor show up on whatever side of the screen. It’s somewhat useful, in some odd ways, but it is very obvious that Ubuntu is not setup for a touch screen. However, it ought to be. Many of the icons, screen position movements and other things are already in good places for that type of interaction, it just needs to know the difference between the mouse versus the touch screen being used. Final rating however, for the touch screen with Ubuntu – irrelevant and useless, don’t get it if you’re going to only use a non-Windows 8 operating system.

So that’s it for now. I’m intending to do a full video and write up at some point, but wanted to get some quick reviews of first observations before I did a full wrap up. Until next time, cheers!

Banning the Phablet… with the Samsung ATIV with Keyboard.

Ok, in the end, let’s just call these things tablets. I know there is the attempt to call these phablets, but that’s so freakin’ stupid. They’re called tablets Microsoft. Just go with the flow. Here’s an unboxing, initial application viewing & a bit more via video. I’ve broken this review into three sections; A Video Review & Unboxing, A Few Product Photos and A Few Notes. On to the review…

A Video Review & Unboxing

A Few Product Photos

Samsung ATIV (Click for full size)

Samsung ATIV (Click for full size)

The ATIV with Windows 8 Start Screen displayed. (Click for full size)

The ATIV with Windows 8 Start Screen displayed. (Click for full size)

The side view of the ATIV; power button, the something another button, headphone jack and USB port. (Click for full size)

The side view of the ATIV; power button, the something another button, headphone jack and USB port. (Click for full size)

The button, connectors removed for attachment to keyboard. (Click for full size)

The button, connectors removed for attachment to keyboard. (Click for full size)

Close up of the screen. (Click for full size)

Close up of the screen. (Click for full size)

The Connectors between the bottom and the keyboard. (Click for full size)

The Connectors between the bottom and the keyboard. (Click for full size)

ATIV connected to the keyboard. (Click for full size)

ATIV connected to the keyboard. (Click for full size)

Power chord side. (Click for full size)

Power chord side. (Click for full size)

Base of it, folded with keyboard. (Click for full size)

Base of it, folded with keyboard. (Click for full size)

A Few Notes

On an Atom device, a ton of software is incompatible with Windows 8. NOTE this. It is vitally important to be aware of. Especially if you’re under the impression you’ll do any type of “Microsoft” Application Development. Also much of the 64-bit software won’t run even in compatibility mode. All things to keep in mind when making a purchase.

Strava, Pandora, Spotify and many other apps just do not exist for Windows 8 – still. Microsoft is either going to have to win market share in the app market or they’re going to have to pay companies to build Windows 8 versions of their applications. This isn’t entirely out of the question, as Microsoft has basically paid for most of the applications that are in the Windows 8 store.

If you’re an Evernote power user, or any type of power user for that matter, you will likely need to download the regular Windows version of any application in addition to the Windows 8 Start bar, tablet style metro interface contraption that is available via the store. The Evernote application for instance is cumbersome and requires more fiddling about clicking and moving things on the screen to be truly useful.

Amidst all of these problems there are a few gems in the Windows 8 application space. The one that stands out the most to me at this time is the Amazon Kindle Application. It is truly one of the more polished applications, but in addition it looks good and works well in the Windows 8 touch universe. Another application that holds up is the Weather Application. Yup, the simple built in Windows 8 Weather Application.

The Evernote application, fact is it doesn’t synchronize effectively nor does it actually show you how or were it is within that process. In the end, even though the application appears, at first to work well with touch, it doesn’t work well overall. Maybe it’s Evernote or Microsoft that is at fault. I don’t know. As the consumer I don’t need to know because it’s their responsibility to make these things work. Hopefully, that’ll happen eventually.

I’ll be using the tablet in an ongoing basis to build and test Windows 8 applications and for some everyday tasks; email, twitter and other applications as they become available. I’ll definitely have more to say about this device. Another review in a few months when I get really used to the Windows 8 interface and the hardware itself.

NOTE: I don’t get paid to do any of these reviews. I merely do these because I enjoy good, candid reviews and want to contribute back to the tech community. I am not paid to advocate Windows 8, Samsung, Apple, Tablets or Phablets or anything in this video. This is merely a product that I have purchased that I intend to use for software development and testing in the near future.

Cheers,

Systems Thinking, Measuring Things and Really, Cultural Change is Free and Why Your Measurement are Likely Screwing Up Your Business

I was going to write this up. I stumbled upon this video of John Seddon presenting. But seriously, WATCH the video, especially if you work in an enterprise. If you’re in management or in executive leadership you desperately need to watch this and know it, understand it and listen to it. To benefit of yourself and those around you and those that interact with you business. Whatever I write is tertiary in relation to what John says here.

Watched the video? Well, either way here’s a quick overview of things. John breaks out why targets make organisations worse and controlling, or managing costs, actually makes them higher. He explains, in a rather entertaining way, why the public sector along with the private sector is doing horribly compared to what they should be doing. As stated in the video description, the best way to put it is “Target Obsession Disorder” laid bare!

It’s like a breath of fresh air.

How does this tie back to programming and code? Simple. To truly draw together what needs to be built, to see the big picture, the focus of the consumer and where we’re heading one must try, as hard as it is, to understand the whole of a system. Thus, systems thinking is the cerebral approach to actually write software well, for what it is really needed for. As I’ve been saying a lot as lately, “Never make a decision on a single metric, it’ll very likely be the wrong decision.

As John states, I’ll leave this article with, destroy your “failure demand“.

The Database Deluge… Who’s Who

These are the top NoSQL Solutions in the market today that are open source, readily available, with a strong and active community, and actively making forward progress in development and innovations in the technology. I’ve provided them here, in no order, with basic descriptions, links to their main website presence, and with short lists of some of their top users of each database. Toward the end I’ve provided a short summary of the database and the respective history of the movement around No SQL and the direction it’s heading today.

Cassandra

http://cassandra.apache.org/

Cassandra is a distributed databases that offers high availability and scalability. Cassandra supports a host of features around replicating data across multiple datacenters, high availability, horizontal scaling for massive linear scaling, fault tolerance and a focus, like many NoSQL solutions around commodity hardware.

Cassandra is a hybrid key-value & row based database, setup on top of a configuration focused architecture. Cassandra is fairly easy to setup on a single machine or a cluster, but is intended for use on a cluster of machines. To insure the availability of features around fault tolerance, scaling, et al you will need to setup a minimal cluster, I’d suggest at least 5 nodes (5 nodes being my personal minimum clustered database setup, this always seems to be a solid and safe minimum).

Cassandra also has a query language called CQL or Cassandra Query Langauge. Cassandra also support Apache Projects Hive, Pig with Hadoop integration for map reduce.

Who uses Cassandra?

  • IBM
  • HP
  • Netflix
  • …many others…

HBase

http://hbase.apache.org/

In the book, Seven Databases in Seven Weeks, the Apache HBase Project is described as a nail gun. You would not use HBase to catalog your sales list just like you wouldn’t use a nail gun to build a dollhouse. This is an apt description of HBase.

HBase is a column-oriented database. It’s very good at scaling out. The origins of HBase are rooted in BigTable by Google. The proprietary database is described in in the 2006 white paper, “Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data.”

HBase stores data in buckets called tables, the tables contain cells that are at the intersection of rows and columns. Because of this HBase has a lot of similar characteristics to a relational database. However the similarities are only in name.

HBase also has several features that aren’t available in other databases, such as; versioning, compression, garbage collection and in memory tables. One other feature that is usually only available in relational databases is strong consistency guarantees.

The place where HBase really shines however is in queries against enormous datasets.

HBase is designed architecturally to be fault tolerate. It does this through write-ahead logging and distributed configuration. At the core of the architecture HBase is built on Hadoop. Hadoop is a sturdy, scalable computing platform that provides a distribute file system and mapreduce capabilities.

Who is using it?

  • Facebook uses HBase for its messaging infrastructure.
  • Stumpleupon uses it for real-time data storage and analytics.
  • Twitter uses HBase for data generation around people search & storing logging & monitoring data.
  • Meetup uses it for site data.
  • There are many others including Yahoo!, eBay, etc.

Mongo

http://www.mongodb.org/

MongoDB is built and maintained by a company called 10gen. MongoDB was released in 2009 and has been rising in popularity quickly and steadily since then. The name, contrary to the word mongo, comes from the word humongous. The key goals behind MongoDB are performance and easy data access.

The architecture of MongoDB is around document database principles. The data can be queried in an ad-hoc way, with the data persisted in a nested way. This database also, like most NoSQL databases enforces no schema, however can have specific document fields that can be queried off of.

Who is using it?

  • Foursquare
  • bit.ly
  • CERN for collecting data from the large Hadron Collider
  • …others…

Redis

http://redis.io/

Redis stands for Remote Dictionary Service. The most common capability Redis is known for, is blindingly fast speed. This speed comes from trading durability. At a base level Redis is a key-value store, however sometimes classifying it isn’t straight forward.

Redis is a key-value store, and often referred to as a data structure server with keys that can be string, hashes, lists, sets and sorted sets. Redis is also, stepping away from only being a key-value store, into the realm of being a publish-subscribe and queue stack. This makes Redis one very flexible tool in the tool chest.

Who is using it?

  • Blizzard (You know, that World of Warcraft game maker)  😉
  • Craigslist
  • flickr
  • …others…

Couch

http://couchdb.apache.org/

Another Apache Project, CouchDB is the idealized JSON and REST document database. It works as a document database full of key-value pairs with the values a set number of types including nested with other key-value objects.

The primary mode of querying CouchDB is to use incremental mapreduce to produce indexed views.

One other interesting characteristic about CouchDB is that it’s built with the idea of a multitude of deployment scenarios. CouchDB might be deployed to some big servers or may be a mere service running on your Android Phone or Mac OS-X Desktop.

Like many NoSQL options CouchDB is RESTful in operation and uses JSON to send data to and from clients.

The Node.js Community also has an affinity for Couch since NPM and a lot of the capabilities of Couch seem like they’re just native to JavaScript. From the server aspect of the database to the JSON format usage to other capabilities.

Who uses it?

  • NPM – Node Package Manager site and NPM uses CouchDB for storing and providing the packages for Node.js.

Couchbase (UPDATED January 18th)

Ok, I realized I’d neglected to add Couchbase (thus the Jan 18th update), which is an open source and interesting solution built off of Membase and Couch. Membase isn’t particularly a distributed database, or database, but between it and couch joining to form Couchbase they’ve turned it into a distributed database like couch except with some specific feature set differences.

A lot of the core architecture features of Couch are available, but the combination now adds auto-sharding clusters, live/hot swappable upgrades and changes, memchaced APIs, and built in data caching.

Who uses it?

  • Linkedin
  • Orbitz
  • Concur
  • …and others…

Neo4j

http://www.neo4j.org/

Neo4j steps away from many of the existing NoSQL databases with its use of a graph database model. It stored data as a graph, mathematically speaking, that relates to the other data in the database. This database, of all the databases among the NoSQL and SQL world, is very whiteboard friendly.

Neo4j also has a varied deployment model, being able to deploy to a small or large device or system. It has the ability to store dozens of billions of edges and nodes.

Who is using it?

  • Accenture
  • Adobe
  • Lufthansa
  • Mozilla
  • …others…

Riak

Riak is a key-value, distributed, fault tolerant, resilient database written in Erlang.  It uses the Riak Core project as a codebase for the distributed core of the system. I further explained Riak, since yes, I work for Basho who are the makers of Riak, in a separate blog entry “Riak is… A Big List of Things“. So for a description of the features around Riak check that out.

Who is using Riak?

In Summary

One of the things you’ll notice with a lot of these databases and the NoSQL movement in general is that it originated from companies needing to go “web scale” and RDBMSs just couldn’t handle or didn’t meet the specific requirements these companies had for the data. NoSQL is in no way a replacement to relational or SQL databases except in these specific cases where need is outside of the capability or scope of SQL & Relational Databases and RDBMSs.

Almost every NoSQL database has origins that go pretty far back, but the real impetus and push forward with the technology came about with key efforts at Google and Amazon Web Services. At Google it was with BigTable Paper and at Amazon Web Services it was with the Dynamo Paper. As time moved forward with the open source community taking over as the main innovator and development model around big data and the NoSQL database movement. Today the Apache Project has many of the projects under its guidance along with other companies like Basho and 10gen.

In the last few years, many of the larger mainstays of the existing database industry have leapt onto the bandwagon. Companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP and Oracle have made many strategic and tactical moves to stay relevant with this move toward big data and nosql databases solutions. However, the leadership is still outside of these stalwarts and in the hands of the open source community. The related companies and organizations that are focused on that community such as 10gen, Basho and the Apache Organization still hold much of the future of this technology in the strategic and tactical actions that they take since they’re born from and significant parts of the community itself.

For an even larger list of almost every known NoSQL Database in existence check out NoSQL Database .org.