Cloudant On Rackspace: Data Layer For The Big Apps Era

This is a guest post written and contributed by Mike Miller, Co-founder, Chief Scientist of Cloudant, a Rackspace Cloud Tools partner. Cloudant is a managed NoSQL cloud database service, a fast, always-on, scalable database that Cloudant operates and grows so developers can stay focused on new development and not on IT operations.

Lessons Learned In Big Physics…
In a recent past life, I attacked petabyte-per-second big data problems as a particle physicist at the Large Hadron Collider together with my colleagues and Cloudant co-founders, Alan Hoffman and Adam Kocoloski. We faced a lot of the problems that developers of large-scale web and mobile apps face today. Here are some lessons we learned the hard way:

Scaling a database yourself is brutally hard (both application level sharding and the master-slave model). It is harder with SQL than it is with NoSQL databases, but either way, the “scale it yourself” approach is loaded with unknowns, complications and operational expense.

Horizontal scaling on commodity hardware is a must. We got very good at this and ended up embedding Apache CouchDB behind a horizontal scaling framework to scale arbitrarily and stay running 24×7 with a minimal operational load. The data layer must scale. It should be something that applications grow into, not out of. That last point inspired Alan, Adam and me to co-found Cloudant.

What Is Cloudant?
Cloudant is a scalable data layer (as a service) for Big Data apps. Built on CouchDB, JSON and MapReduce, it lets developers focus on new features instead of the drudgery of growing or migrating databases. The Cloudant Data Layer is already big: it collects, stores, analyzes and distributes application data across a global network of secure, high-performance Rackspace open cloud data centers, delivering low-latency and non-stop data access to users no matter where they’re located. You get to focus on your code; we’ve got data scalability and availability covered for you.

Scaling Your App On Cloudant
Cloudant is designed to support fast app iteration by developers. Data is encapsulated and transferred as JSON documents. You don’t need to design and redesign SQL data models or migrate databases in order to create new app features. You don’t need to write object-relational mapping code either. The database resides behind an HTTP layer and provides a rich permission model, so you can access, secure and share your data via a RESTful API.

Your app is a tenant within a multi-tenant data layer that is already big and scalable. You get a URL end point for your data layer, get data in and out of it via HTTP, and we scale and secure it around the globe. Global data distribution and intelligent routing minimizes latency between your users and the data, which can add hundreds of milliseconds per request (we’ve measured!). Additionally, Cloudant has an advanced system for prioritizing requests so that apps aren’t affected by ”noisy neighbors” in a multi-tenant system. We also offer a single-tenant data layer to companies that want it — your very own white-labeled data cloud. As your data volume and IO requests rise (or fall), Cloudant scales automatically, and because your data is replicated to multiple locations, it’s always available. Start small and grow to epic proportions? Check.

Other Data Management Gymnastics
The Cloudant Data Layer also makes it easy to add advanced functionality to your apps:

  • Replicate data (all of it or sub-sets) to data centers or mobile devices for local processing (great for analytics) or off-line access (great for mobile users). Re-synching is automatic.
  • Perform advanced analytics with built-in MapReduce and Apache Lucene-powered full-text indexing and search.
  • Distribute your code with data — Cloudant can distribute and serve any kind of document, even HTML5 and other browser-based code, which makes it easy to scale your app and move processing from your back-end to the browser.

Why We Run On Rackspace
Given the nature of our service, people always ask us where we have our infrastructure, and we’re quick to tell them we run on the Rackspace open cloud because of the quality of platform performance, security and Fanatical Support that they provide. With their fast provisioning and great support, it took us just three days to get a multi-tenant (freemium) Cloudant cluster and several customer clusters up and running in production on Rackspace.

Get Started With Cloudant On Rackspace For Free
If you’re interested to see what the Cloudant Data Layer could do for your app, sign up at to get your FREE global data presence created in an instant.


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