Citrusleaf: The fastest NoSQL dB you've never heard of

Speed, reliability are hallmarks of ACID-compliant database

You could be forgiven for not knowing about Citrusleaf, the NoSQL database vendor out of Mountain View, CA.

I certainly didn't, but I attributed that to still being new to the NoSQL/big data scene. But while I was doing the usual background research on the company, there wasn't that much to find.

This may not be so much an attribute of the company's size and performance, however, as much as the rather specialized nature of its products and the sector to which Citrusleaf is marketing itself.

In the NoSQL spectrum, Citrusleaf most definitely falls into the key-value database class. According to co-founder and CTO Srini V. Srinivasan, the emphasis of the database is on short-request, real-time database problems that Srinivasan claims hits near "100 percent uptime."

This combination of high performance and high availability is intriguing, and also gives a big clue about Citrusleaf's target market: the real-time advertising sector, which definitely needs this kind of speed and uptime.

There's a trade-off for this kind of approach, Srinivasan explained. The scales of data at which Citrusleaf operates are not going to be huge--more like in the one to three terabyte range. But, Srinivasan added, that works perfectly well for their client base, which is more interested in the reliability and speed than the scalability.

That focus on reliability is a big reason for the company's latest product for its Citrusleaf 2.0 database, Cross Datacenter Replication (XDR). The new XDR technology enables replication of data stores across datacenter, private cloud, or public cloud providers with low latency, explained Brian Bulkowski, Citrusleaf's CEO and co-founder. Specifically, XDR supports multiple destinations from the same source cluster, allowing replication to local backup clusters, batch analysis warehouses, or geographic backups.

"XDR allows customers to choose between three different cloud providers to keep their data safe," Bulkowski added.

All of this, the executives emphasized, without sacrificing Citrusleaf's very high transactional speeds, up to 200,000 transactions per second per cluster node.

Another feature of note for Citrusleaf is the database's touted full ACID compliance. ACID, which stands for Atomic, Consistent, Isolated, and Durable, are the core aspects that must apply to all data within any relational database. Data is broken down to atomic values (name, address_1, city...) while remaining consistent across the database, isolated from other transactions until the current transaction is finished, and durable in the sense that the data should never be lost.

The infrastructure of a relational database is well-suited to meet this criteria for data: data is held in tables connected by relational algebra. NoSQL databases have, in order to achieve the speeds or scalability they are famous for, often sacrificed an aspect of ACID compliance along the way. Citrusleaf reportedly hasn't.

Citrusleaf is also a company and product that has a lot of growth in front of it. There is no direct query language support yet--users interact with the database though an API instead of a query language, though such support is on Citrusleaf's roadmap.

It will be interesting to see if another sector can find a use for this kind of database. Bulkowski still sees room for a lot of growth in the advertising sector, so it's not like he feels this is a limiting factor for his company.

This may, however, keep Citrusleaf well-ensconced as a niche player in the NoSQL ecosystem--a position they seem happy to occupy for now.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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