Monday, October 25, 2010

Service to watch: Cloudant

Suppose I want to leverage a massively scalable database for a client of mine. I've got two obvious choices:

  1. Use SimpleDB and any hosting provider
  2. Use a hosting provider that gives me root and setup and manage the database myself

(1) works OK if I'm modeling simple data, but doesn't seem like it would work well for a more complex app.

(2) provides me with plenty of flexibility, but the costs are significant. First off, clients can no longer opt to start off with a cheap shared hosting account to develop and test their app with (that could mean the difference between $5/mo and $100+/mo - real money to a bootstrapping entrepreneur). More significantly, by using a custom hosting environment, the responsibility for managing the server falls on myself. I now need to keep the server and database software up to date and when it's not running well, I'm the first person to get the call.

Yesterday, while thinking about this problem I came across Cloudant. Cloudant offers CouchDB hosting, much like Amazon hosts SimpleDB. Looks to me like leveraging them I'd get the best of all worlds: I could use any hosting provider, from a dirt cheap GoDaddy account to a collection of EC2 instances; I wouldn't have to worry about database maintenance or server maintenance; and I'd have access to a massively scalable database with more flexibility than SimpleDB.

They even offer a free data hosting tier, which again, would fit the small businesses I work with.

My only hesitation, of course, is that I'd like to make sure Cloudant is going to be around for the long hall. I'd hate to trust them to store an app's data, only to have them not be available one day.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on them.

Anyone else have a suggestion for dealing with this issue of developing a scalable architecture, while doing it on the cheap and simple? I'd love to hear your comments.

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