Cloudscape Inc looks set to make a mint from doing the obvious that no-one else appears to have thought of; selling a Java database. Staffed largely by Illustra, Sybase and Oracle refugees, the company has written a relational database in Java that can store extended data types, effectively a Java version of the Illustra technology which forms the basis of Informix Software Inc’s Universal Server database. The Oakland, California company’s already attracted $5.6m venture funding and is lining up a further injection of cash for early next year, around the time its SQL JBMS object-relational database becomes generally available (CI No 3,271). JBMS is expected to end up on all kinds of laptops, personal digital assistants, network computers and other disconnected devices as well as embedded in distributed applications. It runs in under 2Mb RAM – 600Kb when compressed for downloading. Beta customers include Marimba, Scopus, Novera and Neuron Data. Vision Software Inc’s embedding JBMS in its Java application development environment and Tilden Park Software is writing a JDBC-to-ODBC interface. FedEx is looking at the technology and Cloudscape claims it’s had calls out of the blue from computer-based training companies clamoring for JBMS so they can write and maintain single versions of their highly portable applications. Cloudscape thinks JBMS will be quickly embedded into e-mail and calendaring software enabling users to perform the kinds of searches which are typically a nightmare using today’s applications. JBMS requires no management and will run wherever a Java virtual machine is present which is why the company’s waiting on Microsoft to put a JVM into Windows CE as soon as possible so it can begin selling JBMS for CE-based PDAs. JBMS can be programmed with stored procedures and triggers written in Java and uses conventional rows and tables that can be extended with Java class libraries to support extended data types and logic. Support for HTML, Corba, COM+, RMI and other distributed mechanisms is coming. A mid-1998 enhancement to JBMS will include a replication hub for creating and managing subscriptions to server-based services plus the ability to upload data from relational databases and send messages back to the server while keeping data synchronized. It’s currently hardwiring these connections, claiming the relational database vendors’ replication models are almost impossible to work with, although it will incorporate native replication APIs as soon as it can. Sybase’s replication APIs are available publicly, Oracle’s are not. Using these techniques it will try to position JBMS as a tear-off database where server-side data is exported to a JBMS application for use remotely, over intranets or extranets which may also be embedded with a Java operating system.
Cloudscape says the relational database vendors can’t do Java databases because of all the proprietary baggage they must carry around and support. Just look at the time it’s taken to get relatively unsophisticated products like Personal Oracle Lite or Sybase SQL Anywhere – both originally third party technologies – to market, it observes. It doesn’t believe the mainstream ISV community is going to do much with object-oriented databases either, as evidenced by the attempts many object database companies have made to dress themselves up as middleware, universal databases, application development environments or to get bought. It expects to work alongside the successes that there are, such as Object Design Inc’s ObjectStore PSE for Java. Cloudscape’s reached this point in little over a year, attracting top database developer brains disaffected with their previous company’s attempts to get with the Java program. Indeed it was refugees from Sybase’s aborted next-generation object database project code-named Brahms, including co-founder, VP engineering and acting CEO Howard Torf and CTO Nat Wyatt who went along to Sun Microsystems Inc’s inaugural JavaOne development conference in 1996 and realised that to do Brahms properly it would have to be done in Java and that simply wasn’t an option at Sybase. So they went off to form Cloudscape and write JBMS. It’s no wonder, it says, that Sybase’s switching its focus to middleware; its Emeryville development shop is devoid of enterprise developer skills (CI No 3,279). 16 of Cloudscape’s 21 staff are engineers. It’s projecting a maximum development team size of 25, saying it’s learnt its lessons from the affect of watering down expertise with large development teams at its executive’s previous companies. With additional venture funding and first revenue ships expected early next year Cloudscape’s business plan calls for it to break even in 1999 and turn in a profit in 2000, or even earlier.