Community is at the heart of any Apache Open Source project; its members voluntarily create and collaborate on building software products for the public good. If there isn’t an active, vibrant, productive community working on a project, chances are good that there is no Open Source software available to lead a particular field. 

And that can be a big problem.

It’s one the CouchDB community has now solved, thanks to a big contribution by Cloudant. The company announced today the merger of BigCouch, its highly available, fault-tolerant, clustered & API-compliant version of Apache CouchDB, into the Apache project.

It’s news worth repeating; Cloudant is taking its intellectual property -- a significant bit of code -- that it has spent time (five years) and money developing for its own commercial purposes, and giving it to the project -- no fees or conditions attached.

It’s a big deal, no matter how you look at it.

A Little About CouchDB

For those who don’t have the time to keep up with the growing, ever-evolving wave of new databases built for the internet, mobile, social, Internet of Things Age, Couch DB is an open source database that focuses on ease of use and on being "a database that completely embraces the web.”

Couch, in case you’re wondering, is an acronym for Cluster Of Unreliable Commodity Hardware. 

CouchDB is one of the most popular, free open source databases. It was founded by Damien Katz, an IBM Lotus Notes Engineer who now works for Couchbase. Couchbase has no -- zero -- relationship with CouchDB. (The owners of Couchbase, which acquired the now defunct CouchOne, the commercial vendor that offered Enterprise grade services and support behind CouchDB, have stated that they do not intend to continue contributing code to CouchDB.)

A Bit About Cloudant - Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Alan Hoffman, Adam Kocoloski and Michael Miller, three MIT physics researchers, founded Cloudant after using CouchDB to help them work on the Big Data problems they faced while working with multi-petabyte data sets on experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Kocoloski, Cloudant’s CTO, says the trio was frustrated by the tools available to manage and analyze Big Data in their research, so they built BigCouch, an open source, highly available, fault-tolerant, clustered & API-compliant version of Apache CouchDB.

One CouchDB for the Apache Community

Up until today there have been two concurrent CouchDB projects: CouchDB and BigCouch. BigCouch was (is) supported by Cloudant and CouchDB. After CloudOne and Couchbase withdrew commercial support of CouchDB, CouchDB was left without a commercial sponsor, until Cloudant stepped in.

The announcement of Cloudant merging BigCouch into CouchDB results in one open source Apache CouchDB project.

One CouchDB, But Many Winners

According to many, CouchDB was at risk without a commercial sponsor. Kocoloski says that having two different CouchDB distributions and projects was confusing to the market. In order to solve that problem and to enrich CouchDB with much needed features like horizontal clustering and scaling, improvements in compaction, replication and high-concurrency access performance; and better index update speeds, updated aggregate reduce functions, smooth hot-code updates, improved logging and streamlined libraries -- Cloudant has given BigCouch to the project.

This is a big win not only for the CouchDB community and its users but also for Cloudant and its customers who now have only one CouchDB to concern themselves with.