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Posted May 6, 2015

Google Launches Managed Cloud Database Service

By Jaikumar Vijayan

Google has launched a new cloud database service based on the same technology that powers most of the company's largest applications, including Gmail and Google Analytics.

Google Cloud Bigtable, currently available in beta, is targeted at companies looking to process massive data sets without having to go through the hassle of building and managing their own technology stack to do it.

The company describes it as a fully managed, highly scalable NoSQL database service accessible through the open-source Apache Hbase application programming interface (API). Companies that can benefit from the service, according to Google, include those in the financial services, online advertising, energy, biomedical and telecommunications sectors.

"Google Cloud Bigtable excels at large ingestion, analytics, and data-heavy serving workloads." Cory O'Connor, product manager for the company's cloud platform group, said in a blog post announcing availability of the new service. "It's ideal for enterprises and data-driven organizations that need to handle huge volumes of data."

The database technology behind the Bigtable service is the same thing that Google has been using internally for at least the past 10 years. At its core, Bigtable is basically a distributed storage system for managing petabytes worth of structured data. Bigtable stores data across distributed clusters of commodity hardware and enables random, real-time read/write access to the data.

According to O'Connor, Bigtable delivers more than twice the performance per dollar of other NoSQL alternatives such as Hbase and Cassandra. It also offers much lower latencies compared with both alternatives, he noted. And since Bigtable is available as a fully managed service, its total cost of ownership is less than half that of the others, he said.

"Creating or reconfiguring a Cloud Bigtable cluster is done through a simple user interface and can be completed in less than 10 seconds," O'Connor claimed. And customers do not need to have to worry about estimating their capacity requirements because Bigtable's storage scales automatically as data is input into the system.

Google has teamed with several partners to help organizations in different industries and with different requirements take advantage of Bigtable's capabilities. On the financial services side, for instance, Google has partnered with SunGard. Under the arrangement, SunGard will help financial services companies build and deploy big data applications that can benefit from Bigtable's scalability and performance.

A similar partnership with CCRi is aimed at organizations looking for help storing and analyzing massive volume of spatiotemporal data for use in applications such as map building.

James Conklin, director of operations at CCRi, said the company has already integrated its core GeoMesa application with Bigtable. The integration will allow enterprises to use GeoMesa to store, index, query, transform and visualize spatiotemporal data at scale in Bigtable. The service will benefit companies that have huge volumes of spatial or temporal data, like that gathered from a mobile application. Companies that manage or sell data sets that help track the movement of ships, planes and other objects could also benefit, Conklin said.

Google also has similar partnerships with Telit Wireless Solutions and Pythian, a company that will offer a monitoring and metric collection platform on top of Bigtable.

"The interesting thing here is Google is making available technology that they have been using internally for a very long time," said Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research. "Google is making it available commercially to attract more customers to its cloud platform."

Enterprises have myriad new use cases for technologies such as this, he said, pointing to emerging applications around the Internet of things, social media monitoring and simulation using extremely large data sets.

"Big data is one of the biggest drivers for companies to get into the cloud," Mueller said. That is why highly scalable, high-performance, fully managed services like Bigtable will likely be of appeal for a lot of organizations across industries, he said.



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