Cloudant snares $12M from Rackspace and others to build awareness for its cloudy database

Cloudant which has been spreading its database layer across multiple clouds, just closed $12 million in Series B funding from investors including Fidelity-backed Devonshire Investors, Rackspace Hosting, and Toba Capital.

Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle

Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle

The money will mostly flow to add staff and infrastructure partners.  “First, we need to invest in operational expertise around the world — we’re building an office in San Francisco, we’re based in Boston, and now we have presence in the U.K. and will open one in Hong Kong probably in the next 120 days — we need to staff that,” Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle said in an interview.

Current staffing is at about 60 people, with plans to hit maybe 100 within the next year.

Cloudant’s NoSQL database service runs on Rackspace, Softlayer, Joyent, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon cloud infrastructure so Rackspace’s stake could raise eyebrows although  Schoettle was quick to say that won’t make Rackspace the first among equals. “They see an advantage to partnering with us more closely than just reselling hardware to us. they’ll more tightly integrate our service with their infrastructure offerings,” he said.

This is a case of the coopetition fever that’s gripping cloud companies. I. Another example is Dell and Intel took a stake in Mirantis, self-proclaimed vendor agnostic OpenStack integrator.

While Rackspace now owns a piece of Cloudant, it also fields several database services. In February, for example, it bought a seat at the MongoDB table with its acquisition of ObjectRocket.

Last month, Xeround, another database service provider, pulled the plug in a move that causes some to question whether there’s enough business for umpteen different players. Schoettle said Xeround’s woes were company specific. “Xeround had two issues. First, MySQL is not ideal for next-gen mobile web apps and that’s where the lion’s share of opportunity is. Second, it’s tough to start in 2005 with $30 million and then change course a number of times.”

Cloudant has raised a total of about $16 million to date. Earlier investors including Avalon Ventures, In-Q-tel, and Samsung Venture Investment also participated in this round. How companies are adopting cloud services — including databases — will be on the agenda at next month’s Structure event in San Francisco.