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Intelligence Venture Firm Backs Cloud Database Startup

In-Q-Tel invests in Cloudant, which offers database-as-a-service for mobile and Web applications.

In-Q-Tel, the venture investment firm for U.S. intelligence agencies, is investing in Cloudant, a cloud services startup that manages a distributed data layer on top of the Apache CouchDB database. The company's service can be used to support new mobile and Web applications, including those based on big data.

Cloudant provides what it calls "data layer as a service" from a distributed network of servers, hosted by Amazon, Joyent, Microsoft Windows Azure, and Softlayer. Its service is available from shared, multitenant servers or from dedicated systems with enterprise-level support.

The company was founded in 2008 by three Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicists who were working with petabytes of data generated by the Large Hadron Collider. Needing a better way to manage and analyze the data, they created a data layer on Apache CouchDB.

CEO Derek Schoettle says the Cloudant Data Layer can be used to build apps that scale easily using distributed data. New partner In-Q-Tel invests in technologies for use by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Those agencies have "particular problems they need to solve," Schoettle said.

[ Government holds a lot of data that industry wants. See Unlocking Big Government Data: Whose Job Is It? ]

It's the latest in a growing portfolio of cloud investments by In-Q-Tel. In August, the company disclosed a partnership with Adaptive Computing to develop a cloud operating system. And in September, it announced an agreement with Huddle, developer of a cloud-based content management system.

The deal with Cloudant is In-Q-Tel's second investment in database technology in as many months. In September, it struck a deal with 10gen, developer of the MongoDB open source database.

In-Q-Tel has announced more than a dozen tech investments this year. Last week, the company unveiled a partnership with cybersecurity vendor Tenable Network Security, whose Unified Security Monitoring platform combines vulnerability sensors with a database of vulnerabilities, threats, and compliance data for real-time threat assessments. Tenable's customers include the Defense Department and a dozen federal departments, as well as Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

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