Business challenge

To execute its core mission of bringing healthcare services to developing countries and underserved communities, Dimagi needed a data layer that would scale more easily to support its business growth.


Dimagi selected IBM® Cloudant® Dedicated Cluster as its new data layer, gaining a robust, high-performance, database-as-a-service solution, operating on an elastic and scalable global cloud.



scalability to support more users and more data


performance and flexibility, boosting quality of service


database maintenance, enabling developers to focus on core business development

Business challenge story

Scaling applications to meet demand

Dimagi develops mobile applications that help community health workers in developing countries provide better quality care for patients in their communities.

As an example, using Dimagi’s open‑source mobile platform, CommCare, community healthcare staff collect and store patient information locally on mobile devices. Once they have access to a cellular network, all data is automatically synchronized to Dimagi’s cloud platform. Program staff can then run sophisticated real-time analytics for both operational and performance-management reporting. Today, more than 500 organizations in 50+ countries utilize CommCare as a job aid in frontline health programs

Initially, Dimagi selected open standard, Apache Couch DB as a NoSQL data layer to serve as a repository for collecting, storing, and managing this information. Although CouchDB met many technical requirements, it could not scale easily to support new business growth within Dimagi’s existing architecture. Complex analytical queries caused bottlenecks on the server, degrading response times and blocking uploads of new user data. As a result, more time and effort was spent expanding server resources and tuning database performance.

Jonathan Jackson, CEO and Co-Founder of Dimagi, says, “The flexible, self-defining schema of CouchDB was ideal for us because 95 percent of our data structures are freely defined by end users. However, we found that we were overloading our CouchDB server on a daily basis because of our relatively large number of multi-tenant users and the complexity of our user-defined analytics workloads.”

Having Cloudant Dedicated Cluster to manage the data layer gives us confidence and speed in creating new solutions that help our clients.

—Jonathan Jackson,CEO and Co-Founder, Dimagi

Transformation story

Zero-maintenance database

To eliminate performance and scalability problems, and to free developers from database administration tasks, Dimagi selected IBM Cloudant Dedicated Cluster to provide a database-as-a-service solution. This new data layer uses the standard CouchDB HTTP API, so it fits seamlessly into any existing software stack that accommodates REST APIs. The commitment to open standards sealed the deal for Dimagi.

“We don’t want to be experts at optimizing databases—we want to be free to focus on developing software that really adds value to disadvantaged communities,” comments Jackson. “Choosing Cloudant Dedicated Cluster was a genuine win-win, because it gives us a massive performance improvement and enables complete focus on our core work. This database-as-a service solution is designed to manage growing databases and it optimizes database performance much better than we can.”

The Cloudant Dedicated Cluster platform runs Dimagi’s database on multi-threaded clustered nodes, backed by the elasticity and scalability of a large global cloud service, and with robust SLAs for performance and availability. This NoSQL data layer stores data as self-describing, JSON documents, and its RESTful JSON API makes every document accessible by means of HTTPS, with all data automatically encrypted in flight.

Results story

Higher performance, accelerated business

With Cloudant Dedicated Cluster providing a robust, flexible, high-performance database layer in the cloud, Dimagi can focus on developing and enhancing its mobile applications, ultimately improving people’s lives.

“When we switched to Cloudant Dedicated Cluster, we had just hit the point where database management was turning into a nightmare,” says Jackson. “Now, performance-wise, many development tasks have gone from days to hours. As well as saving us valuable time, adopting the database-as-a-service approach has released all the mental energy that previously went into coping with existing problems.”

Dimagi draws on IBM Cloudant expertise to continue optimizing database performance, as Jackson explains: “The engineers come up with clever troubleshooting ideas, and help us flag poorly written reports that were causing delays. As a product company, it’s great to know that we and our clients are backed by that expertise.”

Managing the data layer with full database-as-a-service capabilities helps Dimagi developers accelerate the release of new functionality and applications. “We are building more powerful mobile analytics tools and workflows,” concludes Jackson. “Having Cloudant Dedicated Cluster to manage the data layer gives us confidence and speed in creating new solutions that help our clients.”

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About Dimagi

Dimagi is a privately held, for-profit, social enterprise that develops software to improve service delivery in underserved communities. Dimagi works with hundreds of diverse partners, including governmental ministries and international healthcare organizations, to build mobile applications that help bring healthcare services to developing countries and low-resource areas.

Solution components

  • Cloudant Svcs

Take the next step

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