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VMblog Expert Interview: Jeff Morris of Couchbase Talks Autonomous Operator 2.0 and Couchbase Cloud (DBaaS)

interview couchbase morris 

VMblog recently spoke to Jeff Morris, Vice President Product & Solutions Marketing, at Couchbase, about the company's release of Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0.  He provided us with insights, as well as a brief update on the recent Couchbase Cloud (DBaaS) launch, and the company's overall state of the state. 

Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0 

VMblog:  Couchbase recently launched Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0.  What is Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0 and can you tell us more about what customers can expect? 

Jeff Morris:  At a high-level, Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0 (CAO2) is our new major release on Kubernetes. This release provides enterprise customers with a fully autonomous containerized database management platform. CAO2 enables DevOps teams to run their Couchbase cluster(s) as a fully managed, stateful database application next to their microservices applications. Plus, it provides freedom from being locked into a single cloud vendor and lets customers implement their hybrid or multicloud strategies. 

From the customer's perspective, CAO2 enables them to create a fully managed on-premise database-as-a-service. One that is designed to automate the deployment, self-healing, upgrading, centralized monitoring, scaling and managing of database applications both on-premises, in and across public cloud environments--all seamlessly. 

We believe we are the furthest down the path to achieving two ultimate goals; to provide enterprise customers with a fully autonomous database management platform and be the industry's first and most robust cloud native database. 

With CAO2 we're filling in the gap to being "fully autonomous" by shipping features - Automated Couchbase Security Management, Automated Backup/ Restore Management, Automated Cross Datacenter Replication (XDCR) Management, Fine-grained property setting in the Kubernetes Operator Security Model, Centralized Monitoring and Alerting using Cloud native de facto standard Prometheus, Certificate Management with Mutual TLS Support and last but not least, simplified deployment for Couchbase Sync Gateway in Kubernetes alongside Autonomous Operator. 

Whereas, in Couchbase Autonomous Operator 1.x series we shipped features to make it easier to deploy, self-recover, and manage the Couchbase Data Platform in Kubernetes environments. Features such as Automated Cluster Provisioning, Automated Self-Recovery, On-demand Elastic Scaling, Centralized Configuration Management, Support and Certify Kubernetes Storage Class for Persistent Storage, Automated Container and Couchbase Upgrades, Published Couchbase Chart using cloud native de facto standard Helm, Production Certified Kubernetes Platforms - Open Source Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift, Amazon EKS, Azure AKS, and Google GKE. 

VMblog:  How have customers responded to the Couchbase Autonomous Operator 2.0 beta?

Morris:  Very positively. There are dozens of customers participating in the beta program for CAO2 such as Staples, AT&T Entertainment Group, CenterEdge,, and more. Some of the early feedback was - CAO2 sets a new standard for NoSQL databases on Kubernetes for production deployments. They appreciate that we're providing a fully distributed, highly scalable, enterprise-class database, orchestrated by Kubernetes for enterprises wishing to automate the deployment, self-healing, centralized monitoring, scaling and managing of critical database applications both on-premises and in public cloud environments. 

VMblog:  On the customer side of the equation, what is the business need behind Autonomous Operator 2.0, and what does success look like for customers?


#1. Adopting a Hybrid Cloud or Multicloud Strategy

Many companies are accelerating their "cloud-first" strategies for a variety of reasons. First of all, any company of sufficient size is a multicloud company. There are issues of data sovereignty rules around the world and no cloud covers every global region sufficiently. Prior to March, it was to improve deployment and management efficiencies, now it is to control costs without losing control of their data and applications. Right now, due to the quickened pace that these enterprises move their business-critical data to the cloud, they are embracing hybrid cloud architectures to support and secure their organization's data in both public and private cloud infrastructures, as a safety measure.

With Couchbase Autonomous Operator, enterprises can run a Couchbase cluster on any cloud including Red Hat OpenShift, Google Kubernetes Engine GKE, Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service EKS, and Microsoft's Azure Kubernetes Service AKS. No matter where you deploy the cluster, it runs more or less the same with no glitches or performance issues. 

#2. Faster Time to Market 

Microservices are ubiquitous among enterprise development teams for the sole reason that it speeds time to market. Typically, these enterprises adopt containerized platforms using containers like Docker and Kubernetes. As they build these new systems, a common, but unfortunate design decision often isolates stateless applications running in containers from their stateful storage counterparts, the databases feeding the microservices applications remain on-premises or within VMs. The result is a construction of new, cloud-based silos in their infrastructure. 

To solve this database silo challenge and reduce DevOps workload, Couchbase Autonomous Operator enables Couchbase to be run as an autonomous, stateful database application alongside its microservices applications on the same Kubernetes platform. 

#3. Reduce Operational Cost 

Large enterprises deploy hundreds of database clusters for a variety of reasons including, development, test, pre-production, and production setups, which makes sense. Moreover, clusters may need to be deployed in different regions or availability zones for data availability or geo-locality reasons. Also, clusters may need to be deployed across public and private clouds within a hybrid strategy. As a result, there are very high operational costs associated with deploying and managing these hundreds of clusters across multiple setups, regions, and private and public clouds.

Deploying and running Couchbase containerized clusters as a stateful application on Kubernetes can reduce up to 90-95% of the operational complexity. 

Couchbase Cloud

VMblog:  Couchbase also announced Couchbase Cloud, a fully managed DBaaS, back in February.  From a high level, what were the reasons for creating a fully managed option, a new but long-anticipated capability from Couchbase, and how is it unique? 

Morris:  Couchbase Cloud provides the ideal model in which enterprises can leverage the power of Couchbase's NoSQL technology. Whether they are a current customer, a prospective customer interested in dipping their toe in the NoSQL water, or customers of other DBaaS offerings, Couchbase Cloud opens the door to new business opportunities for Couchbase. 

Couchbase Cloud is different from other DBaaS offerings in a few ways, 1) It harnesses the versatility of Couchbase, 2) It allows the customer to control the deployment and security of their data, 3) They also control the behavior of their clusters from a single control panel, 4) They control the clouds and virtual private clouds within which Couchbase is deployed, and finally 5) They control their operational costs through Couchbase's customer-favorable pricing and licensing model. 

First, the architecture: Couchbase Cloud provides a "single pane of glass" control plane that is separate from the data plane, which resides within the customer's own cloud environment. The control plane is built on the latest in cloud innovation including Couchbase Autonomous Operator (which we just talked about) and open source technologies including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Grafana, which enable the fully automated control plane to conduct activities such as multicloud orchestration (meaning users can view activity across different clouds from one single view), user management, cluster management, monitoring, billing, and so forth. Next, the data plane -- unlike other DBaaS offerings, the data plane resides within the customer's own virtual private cloud (VPC), putting customers in control of their data while also providing a host of other benefits including higher performance, lower latency, and stronger security. 

Second, pricing model:  While other DBaaS offerings today bundle infrastructure as part of its solution, Couchbase Cloud does not "margin stack" and charge for the underlying Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), making it a very economical option for enterprises. Customers are billed directly by the cloud service provider for the underlying IaaS, including compute, storage, and network, which enables customers to negotiate directly with their provider and continue to benefit from preferential pricing in that provider's ecosystem. The model also allows for "rollover credits," meaning there is no forfeiture of unused credits at the end of the month, which provides further value to customers. Finally, Couchbase Cloud will offer a great deal of flexibility with multiple pricing options that include hourly and volume-based pricing with a choice of payment methods of pay-after-use (with credit cards or a purchase agreement) or a pre-pay with Couchbase credits--available later this year. 

Third, and last -- but certainly not least: It's Couchbase. Couchbase Cloud is a fully managed version of Couchbase Server, an enterprise-class NoSQL database that combines the flexibility and scalability of NoSQL with the power and familiarity of SQL. Customers get best-in-class performance, scale, and availability that enterprises require for their most business-critical applications. Regarding availability, Couchbase's masterless architecture avoids the pitfalls of other databases. Unique to flagship Couchbase Server-- and now being offered via Couchbase Cloud -- is cross datacenter replication (XDCR). XDCR provides an easy way to replicate data from one Couchbase cluster to another, which is key for disaster recovery across geographically dispersed datacenters or to bring data closer to users for faster data access. And just as Couchbase runs in modern dynamic environments and on any cloud, Couchbase Cloud supports any cloud and multicloud deployments. 

VMblog:  How have customers responded to the Couchbase Cloud beta?

Morris:  We've been really pleased with the response. On the day of the announcement we had scores of registrations. We were able to partner with some of our existing customers and some new customers through this beta process to really hone and prove our offering in a way not possible with our existing offering. These include companies in insurance, global professional services, tech, healthcare, financial services, logistics, and biotechnology. The response from these customers has been extremely positive. 

VMblog:  What's ahead for Couchbase Cloud? 

Morris:  Couchbase Cloud will be generally available this summer, and then we'll be rolling it out globally by the end of the summer. Couchbase Cloud will provide customers with a convenient way to keep up with Couchbase's regular rate of innovation and expanded capabilities in a fully managed environment. Our expectation is to support our global customer base in their cloud and across the edge and mobile devices with the latest NoSQL capabilities. In short, customers will get the full capabilities of their cloud and Couchbase everywhere they are, no matter where that is. 

Couchbase Overall

VMblog:  It goes without saying, this is a particularly challenging time not only in the tech industry but for our whole country and the world.  What changes did Couchbase instate to adjust to the situation?

Morris:  We are in a fairly unique position in which we're inherently set up to best serve our customers. First, we are a cloud native company whose critical resources are cloud-based and accessible from anywhere, and as such, we've continued to serve our customers and community on a business as usual basis without interruption or degradation of service. Next, because our team is geographically distributed, we're more than accustomed to collaborating virtually and were ready to support a remote environment for our entire workforce pretty quickly. Like many companies, we found that employees found remote work enjoyable and productive. 

And just like all other companies, we canceled or postponed in-person events and converted many of those to virtual events and minimized business travel for all employees early on. 

Finally, one recent change we made to help our customers is that we've extended Couchbase Server version 5.x's maintenance period to provide our customers more time for upgrade planning.

Published Tuesday, May 26, 2020 7:37 AM by David Marshall
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