When Damien Katz created CouchDB in 2005, he was trying to build a database that could support the next generation of Lotus Notes. But along the way, he and CouchDB became a part of the swelling tide of NoSQL databases, like surfers catching a wave. But after six years of work on the project, Katz announced that he would be stepping away from CouchDB to work on the fork currently used in Couchbase.

“I’ve been working on it for so long. I really like working and solving problems and building useful software. It’s what I’ve always done and will continue to do,” said Katz.

As 2011 ended, Katz’s CouchDB startup Couchio folded into Memcached-based NoSQL startup Membase, forming the newly named Couchbase company and project. The resulting database includes the upfront caching layer of Memcached combined with the cold storage-style replicated back end of CouchDB.

Going forward, Katz said that his own focus will now be on Couchbase, and the rewriting of some portions of that database in C and C++. He originally created CouchDB in Erlang. His coworkers at Couchbase, however, will continue to contribute their changes back to Apache, he said.

And that’s a good thing, because much of CouchDB is still written by Couchbase employees. But they are not the only ones with skin in the Apache CouchDB game. Cloudant has bet heavily on Apache CouchDB, and is preparing to contribute its scalability and global replication suite—dubbed BigCouch—to the Apache Foundation.

Adam Kocoloski is the founder and CTO of Cloudant. He’s also one of Apache CouchDB’s biggest committers and proponents. And while Couchbase is focused on services and consulting for its titular NoSQL database, Kocoloski’s company offers a hosted CouchDB cloud database service.

Kocoloski said that Katz’s views on Couchbase are mostly in line with Apache CouchDB’s, but that Katz had already been moving away from the Apache side of the project for some time. “Damien did talk about the need to move things to C. If you look at the developers of CouchDB over the last year, you see the same things happen: One of the things that happened in the Erlang community—I think in release R14—they made it cleaner and easier to interact with C,” he said.

“In the performance of any big piece of Erlang software, there are going to be areas that are better written in C. We can disagree about how much of the networking stack needs to be in C, and to the best of my knowledge, Membase still uses Erlang extensively for that… I don’t think Apache CouchDB is all that different.”