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Google introduces AlloyDB PostgreSQL-based cloud database

The tech giant is growing its cloud database portfolio with a new service that add analytics query acceleration to and boosts performance of the PostgreSQL database.

Google is adding a new cloud database to its portfolio with the launch of AlloyDB in preview at the Google I/O virtual conference on Wednesday.

The tech giant has not yet provided timing on general availability.

AlloyDB is a managed database-as-a-service offering that is based on the open source PostgreSQL relational database. Google already has multiple cloud databases that support PostgreSQL, including its Cloud Spanner database and the Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL service.

AlloyDB extends the open source PostgreSQL technology with a columnar data format accelerator enabling both analytical and transactional workloads. Google is also integrating its Vertex AI service with AlloyDB to enable users to work with machine learning directly with the database.

"AlloyDB fills a key gap in the Google database offerings," said IDC analyst Carl Olofson. "It is a fully relational DBMS with the ability to perform both analytics and transactions, as well as blended operations that we call analytic transaction processing  at IDC."

Google AlloyDB enables both transactional applications and analytics

The combination of transaction and analytical capabilities in a database is a trend that vendors are adopting more broadly in recent years. While IDC refers to the capability as ATP, Forrester Research calls the same functionality a translytical database, while vendors like PingCAP refer to it as hybrid transactional and analytical processing.

Olofson said he sees the capabilities in AlloyDB as being differentiated from Google's other database offerings, including Cloud Spanner and BigQuery. He noted that BigQuery is for large table queries, Spanner is for multi-region distributed database processing, and AlloyDB can be used for transactional applications as well as analytics.

In addition to analytical and transaction processing, AlloyDB optimizes data storage because the new database is native to the Google file system, Colossus.

AlloyDB fills a key gap in the Google database offerings. It is a fully relational DBMS with the ability to perform both analytics and transactions, as well as blended operations that we call analytic transaction processing.
Carl OlofsonAnalyst, IDC

Why Google is building a new database service with AlloyDB 

As for why Google decided it needed to build another database that supports PostgreSQL, Andi Gutmans, general manager and vice president of engineering and databases at Google Cloud, said in an interview it was due to customer demand.

Gutmans said his team had heard from customers of Google's Cloud SQL for Postgres that they were happy with the service but needed more security, performance, scale and availability.

"This is really where AlloyDB fits in, that is, how do we build a PostgreSQL service on steroids that really can address the requirements of high-end enterprise applications?" Gutmans said.

Gutmans emphasized that AlloyDB is fully compatible with open source PostgreSQL, which is a critical aspect for user adoption as it will enable existing workloads to more easily migrate.

The other capabilities Google is adding in AlloyDB focus on service delivery -- making the database faster and more scalable, according to Gutmans.

For analytics, Gutmans said Google has added an accelerator for column-based queries.

The accelerator uses machine learning in the Google cloud that detects access patterns and which columns are most used in analytical queries. The AlloyDB database will then create representations of those common queries in a columnar format in memory.

Looking forward, Gutmans said that Google's AlloyDB development team has many ideas about how to continue to improve query processing as well as query optimization.

"I think we're coming out of the gate strong, but there's lots of additional ideas on things we could do to just make the customer experience even easier," he said.

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