A highly-touted Anglo-US startup has emerged from stealth mode this month with a new type of database design it believes can transform the way this class of software is used by many large companies.
If UK-inspired tech startups are rare, companies from the UK that think they have discovered a vital missing element in an apparently mature class of software such as databases are unheard of, but such is the ambition of what JustOne Database thinks it has to offer the world.
The company's product, called JustOneDB, is a PostgreSQL-based database engine around which has been built a totally new relational database management system (RDBMS) capable of supporting both transactional updates (which is what databases traditionally do) and analytical queries (which is what data warehouses do) in a single piece of software.
Normally these two functions would be separate because, it has been assumed, they have to be. Databases are about servicing transactions, the bread and butter of why databases exist. Warehouses are there for analytics. If the two are to be connected in real time as they would be in inventory and logistics, huge complexity and expense can ensue.
How the company has pulled off the feat of fusing the two is still an issue of its IP non-disclosure but the company claims it scales well on commodity hardware, is fast, adaptable, and will integrate with existing tools. The one downside is that it does double the data requirements compared to rivals solutions to the analytics problem, but given that the costs of storage have plummeted, its founders see this as affordable compromise.
"People have been chipping away at the database problem but it is hard, very hard," says JustOne Database co-founder Paul McCafferty.
McCafferty first hit the problem JustOne Database claims to have solved when trying to provision a data warehouse for a client and struggling with the timescales and inevitable changes as development proceeded. "I couldn't find anything on the market," he said.
"JustOneDB is an agile relational database with a unique storage architecture which delivers blazingly fast performance with immediate and lifetime access to anything and everything it stores," he said later when asked to sum up the product in a sentence.
In development since February 2010 from its Bristol development base (the company is incorporated in the US for commercial reasons) using angel seed money, the company has now got its idea into shape and to a stage where it needs the attention of beta test partners.
Explaining what the company's software does is not easy to do, an issue McCafferty and co-founders software designer Duncan Pauly, and US-based venture link Kate Mitchell, are attempting to bypass by carefully targeting the sectors that will see value in it, mainly a clutch of unnamed "OEMs."
Longer term, the cloud potential of what the three have come up with is obvious. Why sell people a chunk of software when the whole thing can exist as a service available to anyone as and when they please? The key here will the platform chosen to offer the service on, about which the founders are tight-lipped.
As it grapples with the possibility of growth, JustOne Database can take encouragement from a previous UK database security startup, Secerno, founded in 2006. Last year, the company was sold to Oracle for an undisclosed sum, a lucrative exit by all accounts.
JustOne Database looks like a similar play, that would also work when integrated into a larger suite of products and services. For the moment, the company needs venture backers and some working installations to points to. These appear to be well on the way but time will tell.