With the general availability of Google Cloud Platform’s latest database offerings — the second generation of Cloud SQL, Cloud Bigtable, and Cloud Datastore — Google is setting up a cloud database strategy founded on a basic truth of software: Don’t get in the customer’s way.
For an example, look no further than the new iteration of Cloud SQL, a hosted version of MySQL for Google Cloud Platform. MySQL is broadly used by cloud applications, and Google is trying to keep it fuss-free — no small feat for any piece of software, let alone a database notorious in its needs for tweaks to work well.
Most of the automation around MySQL in Cloud SQL involves items that should be automated anyway, such as updates, automatic scaling to meet demand, autofailover between zones, and backup/roll-back functionality. This automation all comes via a recent version of MySQL, 5.7, not via an earlier version that’s been heavily customized by Google to support these features.
The other new offerings, Cloud Datastore and Cloud Bigtable, are fully managed incarnations of NoSQL and HBase/Hadoop systems. These systems have fewer users than MySQL, but are likely used to store gobs more data than with MySQL. One of MySQL 5.7’s new features, support for JSON data, provides NoSQL-like functionality for existing MySQL users. But users who are truly serious about NoSQL are likely to do that work on a platform designed to support it from the ground up.
The most obvious competition for Cloud SQL is Amazon’s Aurora service. When reviewed by InfoWorld’s Martin Heller in October 2015, it supported a recent version of MySQL (5.6) and had many of the same self-healing and self-maintaining features as Cloud SQL. Where Google has a potential edge is in the overall simplicity of its platform — a source of pride in other areas, such as a far less sprawling and complex selection of virtual machine types.
Another competitor is Snowflake, the cloud data warehousing solution designed to require little user configuration or maintenance. Snowflake’s main drawback is that it’s a custom-build database, even if it is designed to be highly compatible with SQL conventions. Cloud SQL, by contrast, is simply MySQL, a familiar product with well-understood behaviors.