More CIA Money For NoSQL: In-Q-Tel Backs Cloudant

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Today cloud-hosted database provider Cloudant announced it has received both a custom development agreement and an undisclosed investment from In-Q-Tel, an independent non-profit venture capital firm funded by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. The announcement follows In-Q-Tel’s investment in MongoDB makers 10gen last month. In-Q-Tel investments are rumored to typically range from $1 million and $3 million.

As part of the agreement In-Q-Tel will promote the use of Cloudant’s hosted service within the U.S. government. In-Q-Tel invests primarily in technologies it deems valuable for the U.S. intelligence community. For more information check out my coverage of its 10gen funding.

Cloudant was part of the Y Combinator summer 2008 class (there was another Y Combinator company called Cloudant in 2007 but the companies are unrelated). It received another $1 million in seed funding from Avalon Ventures in 2010, and $2 million from undisclosed sources in December 2011.

Cloudant develops BigCouch, a NoSQL database based on Apache CouchDB. The company is primarily in the business of hosting and managing BigCouch instances in the cloud, but it also signed a deal with Monsanto to support an on-premise BigCouch installation.

Cloudant didn’t create CouchDB, but has become the primary provider of enterprise support for the project. The company was founded in 2008 by MIT physicists Alan Hoffman, Adam Kocoloski and Michael Miller. The three were working with massive data sets from the Large Hadron Collider and became frustrated by how difficult data management was. So they decided to create a scalable, cloud-hosted product for dealing with big data. Cloudant’s service was launched in 2010.

In 2009 CouchDB creator Damien Katz co-founded Couch.io, which was later renamed to CouchOne, to commercialize CouchDB. In January 2011 CouchOne and Membase merged to create Couchbase. Last November Couchbase announced that it would no longer support CouchDB or contribute to the main Apache project. The company now focuses exclusively on its own product, which essentially uses Membase as a starting point but adds features from CouchDB.

Since CouchDB is an Apache project with an active community of volunteer developers (some of whom will work at Coucbase), it wasn’t in danger of disappearing entirely. But it was still reassuring that Cloudant announced that it is still committed to CouchDB and is working on folding BigCouch’s features back into the main CouchDB project.