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Google Cloud is on the winning edge, battling AWS – Azure in the red-hot PostgreSQL Space

Google Cloud’s AlloyDB for PostgreSQL has moved into public preview, and as a Postgres-compatible, fully managed DBaaS (database-as-a-service), will take head-on the offerings from AWS and Microsoft in the hot PostgreSQL market.

With #AlloyDB, Google is tapping into decades of #experience designing and managing some of the world’s most #scalable and available database services, bringing the best of Google to the #PostgreSQL #ecosystem. 

At AlloyDB’s core is an #intelligent, database-optimized #storage service built specifically for PostgreSQL. AlloyDB disaggregates compute and storage at every layer of the #stack, using the same infrastructure building blocks that power large-scale #Google services such as #YouTube, #Search, #Maps, and #Gmail. This unique technology allows it to scale seamlessly while offering predictable #performance.

Additional #investments in #analytical acceleration, embedded AI/ML, and #automatic tiering of data means that AlloyDB is ready to handle any #workload you throw at it, with minimal management overhead.

Finally, Google do all this while maintaining full compatibility with PostgreSQL 14, the latest version of the advanced open source database, so you can reuse your existing development skills and tools, and migrate your existing PostgreSQL applications with no code changes, benefitting from the entire PostgreSQL ecosystem. Furthermore, by using PostgreSQL as the foundation of AlloyDB, Google will continue their commitment to openness while delivering differentiated value to Google customers.

According to Gartner Research, by 2022, 75% of the world’s databases are expected to be run in the cloud this year. AlloyDB is expected to bear much of the data load being created by the exploding e-commerce and social network sectors — plus all of the new applications and data that will be filling digital coffers in preparation for the coming Web3 environment.

What AlloyDB brings to the market

Two of the most important differentiators AlloyDB brings to the table are speed and more predictable pricing, Google Vice President of Databases Andi Gutmans said – “We can actually run analytical queries up to 100 times faster than open-source Postgres,” Gutmans said. “On the transactional side, based on our benchmarks, we run up to about four times faster than open-source Postgres, and about two times faster than Amazon’s equivalent offering (Aurora). 

“We put a lot of focus on really making sure that both the performance on the transactional side and then [its extension] to analytical is the best,” Gutmans added. “This means that customers who want to do real-time fraud detection, real-time recommendations, real-time inventory management — they can actually do a lot of this right in their operational store.”

As for pricing, storing data in the cloud has always been an inexact science. Most cloud providers, such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Dell, Oracle, and others, charge users for data egress, computing, IOPS, and other services. 

So Google decided to take the risk on itself and simplify the pricing model, Gutmans said. No access or IOPS fees will be charged for AlloyDB.

“All along, customers have paid for computing, and for the storage that they’re using, they pay for IOPS usage,” Gutmans said. “That was actually one of the key pain points we heard from some customers — that this was about 60% of their bill. When it comes to IOPS, they didn’t feel they could actually control it. It’s really hard to manage because customers can’t actually foretell the cost; it depends on how much data is in memory, how much is in storage, and so on. So we dropped those charges.”

“Our goal was really to make this a set-and-forget IT experience — like autopilot,” Gutmans said.

Here’s how AlloyDB differentiates itself against competitors, according to Gutmans:

       Unlike Oracle, AlloyDB supports PostgreSQL. Additionally, AlloyDB supports both the Postgres implementation and automation features such as autoscaling. It offers four times faster performance than standard PostgreSQL for transactional workloads, and it achieves high availability SLA up to 99.99%, Gutmans said. 

       AlloyDB offers more than two times faster processing than Amazon Aurora. Additionally, Gutmans said, AlloyDB has a more customer-friendly pricing model, as noted above. Unlike Amazon Aurora, AlloyDB will not charge for I/O, which can be a major source of unpredictable costs — up to 60% of the total bill for transactional workloads.

       AlloyDB is a new option for enterprises seeking to transition off proprietary databases, as well as for PostgreSQL users with demanding, high-end applications. It enables users to cost-effectively modernize their proprietary databases and scale their business-critical workloads, Gutmans said. 

Postgres-compatible v. PostgreSQL
Google Cloud’s new AlloyDB for PostgreSQL is a Postgres-compatible service, which is different than a PostgreSQL database service like GCP’s CloudSQL. It is built to be different (faster, more manageable, reliable and scalable) than the standard PostgreSQL RDMS while taking the basic fundamentals and semantics from it, analysts said.

“There are many PostgreSQL-compatible database that are not PostgreSQL, but they use all the SQL semantics of that database to take advantage of the popularity and familiarity of how you program/query PostgreSQL,” Henschen said.

It also means that developers can build or shift applications built on PostgreSQL onto this database.

The new service, which the company claims is “100% Postgres compatible,” supports more than 50 extensions from the Postgres ecosystem, said Google’s Gutmans.

Pricing and competition in the PostgreSQL market
Google claims that the new managed DBaaS offers better price performance than rivals because it has tweaked its pricing strategy to exclude onerous input/output charges that most enterprises have to bear for managed database services.

Enterprises will be charged on compute, storage and other services they consume, Gutmans said, adding that this will make it easier for enterprises to budget their expenditure.

But AlloyDB for PostgreSQL service will have heavy competition from the likes of Amazon Aurora, Oracle Autonomous Databases and Oracle mySQL HeatWave, both from a speed/cost point of view, as well as for OLAP (online analytical processing) and OLTP (online transaction processing.

Google’s move to launch the new managed DBaaS could be seen as a strategy to cover as much market as possible, RedMonk’s Grady said.

“Much as AWS offers both vanilla, standard Postgres and a proprietary, Postgres-compatible alternative in Aurora, Google appears to be catering to both markets that value the standard of an open source database and those willing to sacrifice the all open source base in return for a Postgres-compatible higher performing database,” Grady said.

Concluding Facts

On the technical side, the AlloyDB team built on top of Google’s existing infrastructure, which disaggregates compute and storage. That’s the same infrastructure layer that runs Spanner, BigQuery and essentially all of Google’s services. This, Gutmans argued, already gives the service a leg up over its competition, in addition to the fact that AlloyDB specifically focuses on PostgreSQL and nothing else. “You don’t always get to optimize as much when you have to support more than one (database engine and query language). We decided that what enterprises are asking us for [is] Postgres for these legacy database migrations, so let’s just do the best in Postgres.

The changes the team made to the Postgres kernel, for example, now allow it to scale the system linearly to over 64 virtual cores while on the analytical side, the team built a custom machine learning-based caching service to learn a customer’s access patterns and then convert Postgres’ row format into an in-memory columnar format that can be analyzed significantly faster.

Author avatar
Ankit Shah

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