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Google Cloud Spanner Throws Down Relational Database Challenge

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Watch out MySQL, as Google offers a scalable relational database for high transaction workloads

Google has announced a public beta release of Cloud Spanner, which it touts as the ‘first and only relational database service that is both strongly consistent and horizontally scalable.’

The idea with Cloud Spanner is that it provides users with all the benefits of a traditional relational database (i.e. SQL queries, high performance, high availability etc), but it can also scale horizontally, to hundreds or thousands of servers for the highest of transactional workloads.

The globally distributed database will be offered alongside other cloud-based database offerings from Google including Bigtable, Cloud SQL and the Cloud Datastore.

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According to Google, database users currently expect that distributed databases can’t be global consistent and scalable. Indeed, it states that while NoSQL solutions are great for scale and fast, efficient data-processing, they don’t meet the need for strong consistency.

But Google says that Cloud Spanner has been built from the “ground up” and is “battle tested” at the firm. This claim is made as Google says that for many years now Spanner has been used “internally for services that billions of people access everyday.”

Google apparently developed Spanner as alternative to MySQL, which previously ran many of the search engine’s products.

And there is no limit to how big a Spanner database can grow, as it can scale up to millions of machines across hundreds of data centres and trillions of database rows, meaning this is the idea solution for people dealing with very high transaction workloads.

And besides automatic scaling, synchronous data replication, and node redundancy, Cloud Spanner also offers up to 99.999 percent availability for mission critical applications.

“Today, we’re excited to announce the public beta for Cloud Spanner, a globally distributed relational database service that lets customers have their cake and eat it too: ACID transactions and SQL semantics, without giving up horizontal scaling and high availability,” blogged Deepti Srivastava, product manager for Cloud Spanner.

“When building cloud applications, database administrators and developers have been forced to choose between traditional databases that guarantee transactional consistency, or NoSQL databases that offer simple, horizontal scaling and data distribution,” wrote Srivastava. “Cloud Spanner breaks that dichotomy, offering both of these critical capabilities in a single, fully managed service.”

Highly Scalable

“With Cloud Spanner, your database scales up and down as needed, and you’ll only pay for what you use,” he wrote.

Pricing information can be found here, and charges are applied for compute node-hours, actual storage consumption and external network access.

“Over the years, we’ve battle-tested Spanner internally with hundreds of different applications and petabytes of data across data centers around the world,” wrote Srivastava.

“If you have a MySQL or PostgreSQL system that’s bursting at the seams, or are struggling with hand-rolled transactions on top of an eventually-consistent database, Cloud Spanner could be the solution you’re looking for,” he said.

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