Couchbase & Verizon: why the IoT needs ‘schema-freedom’
The IoT is enabling energy providers to match rising demand with an increasing number of supply sources, while also integrating renewable sources to make power generation cleaner with reduced downtime through near-real-time insight into asset conditions. Image Source: Verizon

Couchbase & Verizon: why the IoT needs ‘schema-freedom’

Couchbase is a company that makes a database. More specifically Couchbase is a company that makes a database that is supplied in a form that is ‘enriched’ for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, so what does that mean in the real world?

Devilish device management detail

The devil, as always, is in the detail… and the detail here comes down to device management nuances. The Couchbase database supports device management capabilities for connected  devices on communication company Verizon Labs’ IoT platform.

Verizon claims to be ‘radically simplifying’ the process of developing new IoT solutions and also providing a wider comprehensive network for firms to get usable information from.

NOTE: Verizon operates one of America’s biggest wireless networks with 113.2 million retail connections nationwide.

The firms point to how many enterprises are now connecting a wide array of devices such as sensors, smart meters, connected cars, security alarm panels etc.

IoT developer battlefield

Gartner analyst Bhavish Sood aserts that customer experience is the new competitive battlefield for IoT developers and providers.

“The convergence of IoT and a data-driven approach toward customer experience allows enterprises to use sensor data in real time to offer greater personalization for products and services. It is the data generated by devices; collected at endpoints, gateways and in the cloud; and consumed in analytic applications that will enable enterprises to derive value from participating in IoT,” said Sood.

Couchbase technology was selected to support Verizon’s IoT platform because of its scale of deployment and flexible schema i.e. the ‘schema’ being the term we use to describe the basic structure of a database and the relationship it’s fields have with itself.

“Unlike relational databases, Couchbase’ s NoSQL document-oriented database enables enterprises to scale quickly to support billions of connected devices and to achieve sub-milliseconds latency lookup. Enterprises rely on Verizon’s IoT platform to support mission-critical applications and capabilities, requiring a continuously available platform. Couchbase’s cross data center replication ensures the platform is available 24×7,” said the firms, in a joint press statement.

The IoT needs schema-freedom

Because every connected device and sensor has unique and varying charecteristics, the importance of flexibility and a schema-free architecture actually starts to make a lot of sense i.e. you don’t want to try and apply what we might call a ‘rigid data model’ to the world of the IoT where so much change happens all the time, especially now in it’s comparatively early days.

Utilizing Couchbase’s JSON flexibility and schema-free architecture, the proposition for IoT centric data developers is the ability to represent complex and varying data. Additionally, any new devices or changes to device characteristics can be more easily made without application downtime or redesigning the data model.

Today, there are six billion IoT connected devices, with projections of 20 billion connected devices by 2020,” said Mohanraj Umapathy, director of IoT platform, Verizon Labs. “This magnitude of devices and data requires cutting-edge technology that meets these unprecedented needs of scale and responsiveness. Couchbase technology helps us provide the enterprise-grade stability, predictable performance, scalability and flexibility necessary to gain real-time actionable insights and information into the millions of connected devices we support on our IoT platform.”

So indeed, the IoT is all about the ‘front end’ and the devices are the stars, but without the right ‘back end’ and the right kind of database flexibility, there’s not that much point in powering up all our new sensors and smart meters in the first place, is there?