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New Updates to Google's Cloud Spanner and Cloud Bigtable Databases

MMS Founder

Article originally posted on InfoQ. Visit InfoQ

The Google Cloud Platform offers various cloud-native database services, and recently Google updated two of them. The updates affect the Cloud Spanner database service, a managed relational database offering and Cloud Bigtable, a managed NoSQL key value and wide-column database. 

The Google Cloud Spanner database service, used by several leading enterprises, SaaS, and gaming applications, received updates to its data manipulating (DML) SQL language. Users are now able to do read and write data operations more efficient in Cloud Spanner databases by using the new INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE SQL statement next to the already existing SELECT statement. In the blog post announcing the updates for Cloud Spanner and Cloud Bigtable, Lewis Tuff, engineering lead at Blockchain, said:

One thing that has been missing for us is DML in SQL to support easier ad-hoc querying, and now that we have it, we’re excited to ship code even faster.


More information on the Cloud Spanner DML enhancements is available on the Google website. Besides the DML updates, users now can also use a new version of the JDBC driver and easily integrate Cloud Spanner with their existing code and toolchains. 

The Cloud Bigtable service, suitable for time-series, graph and “internet of things” workloads, now offers a Key Visualizer feature allowing users to see key access patterns in a heat map format, which enables them to optimize their Cloud Bigtable schemas to enhance performance. The Key Visualizer also helps in debugging performance issues, and users can visualize them via the heat map and thus get to the root of any performance problems more quickly.


Some Google Cloud Platform customers have used the Key Visualizer in beta. OTA Insight, which provides revenue management tools for the hotel industry, is one of them and their CTO, Joeri De Turck, said in the same announcement blog post:

Key Visualizer for Google Cloud Bigtable is an amazing tool to quickly and visually identify hotspots in Bigtable. It helped us greatly to compare the performance of multiple possible key schemas and evaluate which one is the most efficient for our workload.

More information on the new Key Visualizer feature is also available through a recent Google Cloud Next 2018 presentation.

The three big cloud providers Microsoft, Amazon, and Google offer various cloud database services ranging from relational to NoSQL. Furthermore, each provider invests heavily in these services by either making them generally available or adding new features. Recently, Microsoft added more features to its Cosmos DB database service and made the database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL general available. Amazon’s recent database service updates on AWS-platform include the now generally available Amazon Neptune, a new Cloud Graph Database service, and Aurora Serverless MySQL.

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