Skip to content

On Mobile Data Management. Interview with Bob Wiederhold

by Roberto V. Zicari on November 18, 2014

“We see mobile rapidly emerging as a core requirement for data management. Any vendor who is serious about being a leader in the next generation database market, has to have a mobile strategy.”
–Bob Wiederhold.

I have interviewed Bob Wiederhold, President and Chief Executive Officer of Couchbase.


Q1. On June 26, you have announced a $60 Million series E round of financing. What are Couchbase’s chances of becoming a major player in the database market (and not only in the NoSQL market)? And what is your strategy for achieving this?

Bob Wiederhold: Enterprises are moving from early NoSQL validation projects to mission critical implementations.
As NoSQL deployments evolve to support the core business, requirements for performance at scale and completeness increase. Couchbase Server is the most complete offering on the market today, delivering the performance, scalability and reliability that enterprises require.
Additionally, we see mobile rapidly emerging as a core requirement for data management. Any vendor who is serious about being a leader in the next generation database market, has to have a mobile strategy.
At this point, we are the only NoSQL vendor offering an embedded mobile database and the sync needed to manage data between the cloud, the device and other devices. We believe that having the most complete, best performing operational NoSQL database along with a comprehensive mobile offering, uniquely positions us for leadership in the NoSQL market.

Q2. Why Couchbase Lite is so strategically important for you?

Bob Wiederhold: First, because the world is going mobile. That is indisputable. Mobile initiatives top the list of every IT department. As I said above, if you don’t have a mobile data management offering, you are not looking at the complete needs of the developer or the enterprise.
Second, let’s level set on Couchbase Lite. Couchbase Lite is our offering for an embedded mobile JSON database.
Our complete mobile offering, Couchbase Mobile, includes Couchbase Server – for data management in the cloud, and Sync Gateway for synchronization of data stored on the device with other devices, or the database in the cloud.
Today, because connectivity is unknown, data synchronization challenges force developers to either choose a total online (data stored in the cloud), or total offline (data stored on the device) data management strategy.
This approach limits functionality, as when the network is unavailable, online apps may freeze and not work at all. People want access to their applications, travel, expense report, or multi-user collaboration etc., whether they’re online or not.
Couchbase Mobile is the only NoSQL offering available that allows developers to build JSON applications that work whether an application is online or off, and manages the synchronization of the data between those applications and the cloud, or other devices. This is revolutionary for the mobile world and we are seeing tremendous interest from the mobile developer community.

Q3 What can enterprise do with a NoSQL mobile database, that they would not be able to do with a non-mobile database?

Bob Wiederhold: Offline access and syncing has been too time and resource intensive for mobile app developers. With Couchbase Mobile, developers don’t have to spend months, or years, building a solution that can store unstructured data on the device and sync that data with external sources – whether that is the cloud or another device. With Couchbase Mobile, developers can easily create mobile applications that are not tied to connectivity or limited by sync considerations. This empowers developers to build an entirely new class of enterprise applications that go far beyond what is available today.

Q4 What kind of businesses and applications will benefit when people use a NoSQL databases on their mobile devices? Can you give us some examples?

Bob Wiederhold: Nearly every business can benefit from the use of a complete mobile solution to build always available apps that work offline or online. One business example is our customer Infinite Campus.
Focused on educational transformation through the use of information technology, Infinite Campus is looking at Couchbase Lite as a solution that will enable students to complete their homework modules even when they don’t have access to a network outside of school. Instructional videos and homework assignments can be selectively pushed to students’ mobile devices when they are online at school.
Using Couchbase Lite, students can work online at school and then complete their homework assignments anywhere – on or offline. And the data seamlessly syncs across devices and between users, so teachers and students can participate in real-time Q&A chat sessions during lectures.

Q5. Do you have some customers who have gone into production with that?

Bob Wiederhold: The product is new, but we already have several customers that are live.
In addition to Microsoft, we have several companies around the world. You can check out one iOS app by Spraed, who is using Couchbase Server – running on AWS, Sync Gateway and Couchbase Lite.

Q6. Couchbase Server is a JSON document-based database. Why this design choice?

Bob Wiederhold: The world is changing. Businesses need to be agile and responsive.
Relational databases, with rigid schema design, don’t allow for fast change. JSON is the next generation architecture that businesses are increasingly using for mission critical applications because the technology allows them to manage and react to all aspects of big data: volume, variety and velocity of data, as well as big users and do that in a cloud based landscape.

Q7. Do you have any plan to work with Cloud providers?

Bob Wiederhold: We already work with many cloud providers. We have a great relationship with Amazon Web Services and many of our customers, including WebMD and Viber, run on AWS.
We also have partnerships and customers running on Windows Azure, GoGrid, and others. More and more organizations are moving infrastructure to the cloud and we will continue expanding our eco system to give our customers the flexibility to choose the best deployment options for their businesses.

Q8. Do you see happening any convergence between operational data management and analytical data processing? And if yes, how?

Bob Wiederhold: Yes, Analytics can happen at real time, near real time in operational stores and in batch modes. We have several customers who are deploying and have deployed complete solutions to integrated operational big data with real time analytical processing. LivePerson has done some incredibly innovative work here. They have been very open about the work they are doing and you can hear them tell their story here.

Q9 Do you have any plan to integrate your system with platforms for use in big data analytics?

Bob Wiederhold: Absolutely and we are integrated today into many platforms, including Hadoop via our Couchbase Hadoop connector and have many customers using Couchbase Server with both realtime and batch mode analytics platforms. See Avira and LivePerson presentations for examples. We continue to work with big data ISVs to ensure our customers can easily integrate their systems with the analytics system of their choosing.

Bob Wiederhold, President and Chief Executive Officer, Couchbase

Bob has more than 25 years of high technology experience. Until an acquisition by IBM in 2008, Bob served as chairman, CEO, and president of Transitive Corporation, the worldwide leader in cross-platform virtualization with over 20 million users. Previously, he was president and CEO of Tality Corporation, the worldwide leader in electronic design services, whose revenues and size grew to almost $200 million and had 1,500 worldwide employees.
Bob held several executive general management positions at Cadence Design Systems, Inc., an electronic design automation company, which he joined in 1985 as an early stage start-up and helped to grow to more than $1.5 billion during his 13 years at the company. Bob also headed High Level Design Systems, a successful electronic design automation start-up that was acquired by Cadence in 1996. Bob has extensive board experience having served on both public (Certicom, HLDS) and private company boards (Snaketech, Tality, Transitive, FanfareGroup).


Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems. 16 October 2014. Analyst(s): Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian, Nick Heudecker, Gartner.

Related Posts

Using NoSQL at BMW. Interview with Jutta Bremm and Peter Palm. ODBMS Industry Watch, September 29, 2014

NoSQL for the Internet of Things. Interview with Mike Williams. ODBMS Industry Watch, June 5, 2014

Follow on Twitter: @odbmsorg


From → Uncategorized

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS