NoSQL Startup Citrusleaf Launches, Promising the Moon

The NoSQL database space is a little more crowded this morning, as Citrusleaf officially launched with its eponymous product, which promises users the best of both the relational and NoSQL worlds. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also announced an initial round of funding from Alsop Louie Partners, Kalpathi Investments and Draper Associates, which VentureWire has reported at $2 million. Citrusleaf is making big promises around ACID compliance and real-time transaction processing, but its claims likely will be put to the test — and hard — in an increasingly cutthroat space.

According to its press release:

[Citrusleaf] elegantly solves a problem that challenges today’s most data intensive, mission-critical businesses: how to optimally store and access schema free data with absolute accuracy, linear scalability, high throughput, and extreme reliably [sic]. The most common deployments for Citrusleaf 2.0 are terabytes of data, billions of objects, and 200K plus transactions per second per node, with sub-millisecond latency.

The company also claims its database “processes terabytes of data in real-time, with ACID compliance,” which is a big deal, because ACID compliance is the Achilles Heel of NoSQL databases in the eyes of some. ACID is an acronym for “Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability” — a relatively complicated way of saying transactions are performed reliably and accurately, which can be very important in situations like e-commerce, where every transaction relies on the accuracy of the data set. With this stated set of capabilities, it’s not surprising Citrusleaf is targeting the advertising, financial, government and health care sectors, and that it’s already in production in real-time bidding and advertising environments.

Citrusleaf is also somewhat distinct among the NoSQL set because it’s not based an open-source project, but, rather, is a proprietary technology developed by CEO Brian Bulkowski and CTO Srini Srinivasan. In theory, that means it’s a product built for business use from the beginning and, at least as compared to NoSQL projects without commercial support entities, more hand-holding to help users get running without too much effort.

However, as I’ve suggested previously, the NoSQL community is maturing fast both in terms of technology and business savvy, so there are plenty of potential alternatives for any product that can’t live up to its claims. Some might argue, in fact, that a robust open-source project tuned and supported by a commercial entity is the best option from a price-performance point of view. And for a company like Citrusleaf that puts a lot of focus on high-throughput transactional systems, it also must contend with products like VoltDB, a relational database built for speed and scale for both structured and unstructured data.

Competition is good, though, and should make everyone in the space stronger. Written off early by skeptics, it looks like NoSQL databases are here to stay, thanks in large part to the acceptance of big data as a real trend, and one driven largely by unstructured data. Citrusleaf sounds like a good addition, but, like everyone else selling NoSQL, it will have to prove itself in the light of many more businesses trying to figure out which NoSQL database is right for their unique big data needs, or if they even need to go NoSQL at all.