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NewSQL Startup Keeps Java Devs from 'Throwing the Baby out with the Bathwater'

NewSQL database startup NuoDB this week released an update of its nascent distributed relational database. Code-named "Starlings," version 1.2 of the database includes support for new drivers, frameworks and SQL functions.

NewSQL is the scalable, high-performance SQL databases that is going head-to-head with NoSQL. It offers full support for SQL queries and ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) transactions, built on a key-value storage manager that persists data to the file system.

"What the NewSQL guys like us are saying is that the NoSQL guys threw the baby out with the bathwater," said Barry Morris, NuoDB co-founder (with Jim Starkey) and CEO. "Just because traditional SQL databases don't scale, that doesn't mean that SQL doesn't scale. It means that the old designs don't scale."

"Imagine you have all the capabilities of a NoSQL database without having to get rid of SQL," he added. "That's what NewSQL is."

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the company was founded two years ago. NuoDB 1.0 went GA in January 2013, and version 1.1 was released in May. The NewSQL database runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac, and developers can use Java, C++, Hibernate, JRuby, nodeJS, and PHP, with more support coming, Morris said. And it'll run on Amazon, Google or a local machine.

The emphasis here, and increasingly everywhere, is on scaling out, Morris said, not scaling up. "It's all about commodity data centers," he said. "It's much cheaper to buy a hundred thousand-dollar machines than it is to buy one gigantic, steam-belching machine. A single database running on a hundred commodity servers -- and we can scale out to that kind of number -- it can run on the order ten million transactions per second, so it's an extremely fast database system running on cheap machine, and dynamically."

Starling release includes a preview of a take on the server-side programming model, referred to in DB circles as stored procedures, which means you can run code inside the database itself. That model jacks up the performance by 3-4X on standard benchmarks, Morris said. You can run stored procedures across multiple hosts in parallel, and use SQL-based syntax for procedure specification, with a pluggable language model that can support Java, .NET and JavaScript.

This release comes with some SQL Explorer improvements, including a Schema Definition facility for defining new schemas, tables, columns, and keys with easy-to-use UI gestures; and support for multi-line statements in the query window. (SQL Explorer is Eclipse technology, a thin SQL client that allows you to query and browse any JDBC compliant database." There's also a preview of the Tungsten Replicator, a high-performance, open-source, data replication engine for MySQL. It supports live replication of a MySQL database to NuoDB, and running NuoDB side-by-side with MySQL. There's also an enhanced Python driver that "marries Python productivity and ease of programming with the simple elastic scale-out of NuoDB;" and exposes NuoDB management APIs to Python scripting environments.

Another preview in this release, an open-source DJango driver, aims to streamline application development in conjunction with NuoDB's scale-out architecture, and offer the benefits of Django's easy-to-use web application framework.

NuoDB v1.2 also comes with enhanced SQL math functions to make it easy to manipulate and understanding data. And it adds a tool for "straightforward" migration of MySQL applications. Look, too, for enhanced command line tools, including one that allows developers to import MySQL backups directly from mysqldump files when in mysql dialect mode, and improved formatting of screen output.

"From a developer perspective, what this all adds up to is the kind of ease-of-use that people like a lot," Morris said. "You can download this thing in about three minutes, and it's a three-click install. And you can develop things on your laptop and deployment somewhere else with no changes. No need to ask permission from the guys in the data center. No white coats or triplicate forms involved. Just use it."

NuoDB comes in three editions: a Pro edition, for commercial use on a pay-as-you-scale basis; a free-for-development edition; and a Cloud edition for Amazon's AWS. More information is available here.

Posted by John K. Waters on August 7, 2013