Data Analytics

Introducing BigQuery Flex Slots for unparalleled flexibility and control

Organizations of all sizes look to BigQuery to meet their growing analytics needs. We hear that customers value BigQuery’s radically innovative architecture, serverless delivery model, and integrated advanced capabilities in machine learning, real-time analytics, and business intelligence. To help you balance explosive demand for analytics with the need for predictable spend, central control, and powerful workload management, we recently launched BigQuery Reservations.

Today we are introducing Flex Slots, a new way to purchase BigQuery slots for short durations, as little as 60 seconds at a time. A slot is the unit of BigQuery analytics capacity. Flex Slots let you quickly respond to rapid demand for analytics and prepare for business events such as retail holidays and app launches. Flex Slots are rolling out to all BigQuery Reservations customers in the coming days!

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Flex Slots give BigQuery Reservations users immense flexibility without sacrificing cost predictability or control.

  • Flex Slots are priced at $0.04 per slot per hour, and are available in increments of 500 slots.
  • It only takes seconds to deploy Flex Slots in BigQuery Reservations. 
  • You can cancel after just 60 seconds, and you will only be billed for the seconds Flex Slots are deployed.

Benefits of Flex Slots

You can seamlessly combine Flex Slots with existing annual and monthly commitments to supplement steady-state workloads with bursty analytics capability. You may find Flex Slots especially helpful for short-term uses, including:

  • Planning for major calendar events, such as the tax season, Black Friday, popular media events, and video game launches. 
  • Meeting cyclical periods of high demand for analytics, like Monday mornings.
  • Completing your data warehouse evaluations and dialing in the optimal number of slots to use.

Major calendar events. For many businesses, specific days or weeks of the year are crucial. Retailers care about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, gaming studios focus on the first few days of launching new titles, and financial services companies worry about quarterly reporting and tax season. Flex Slots enable such organizations to scale up their analytics capacity for the few days necessary to sustain the business event, and scale down thereafter, only paying for what they consumed.

Payment technology provider Global Payments plans to add even more flexibility to their usage with this feature. “BigQuery has been a steady engine driving our Merchant Portal Platform and analytics use cases. As a complex multinational organization, we were anxious to leverage BigQuery Reservations to manage BigQuery cost and resources. We had been able to manage our resources effectively in most areas but were missing a few,” says Mark Kubik, VP BI, data and analytics, application delivery at Global Payments. “With Flex Slots, we can now better plan for automated test suites, load testing, and seasonal events and respond to rapid growth in our business. We are eager to implement this new feature in our workloads to drive efficiency, customer experience, and improved testing.”

Cyclical demand. If the majority of your users log into company systems at nine every Monday morning to check their business dashboards, you may spin up Flex Slots to rapidly respond to increased demand on your data warehouse. This is something that the team at Forbes has found helpful. 

"Moving to BigQuery Reservations enabled us to self-manage our BigQuery costs,” says David Johnson, vice president, business intelligence, Forbes. “Flex Slots will give us an additional layer of flexibility—we can now bring up slots whenever we have a large processing job to complete, and only pay for the few minutes they were needed."

Evaluations. Whether you’re deciding on BigQuery as your cloud data warehouse or trying to understand the right number of BigQuery slots to purchase, Flex Slots provide the flexibility to quickly experiment with your environment.

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The BigQuery advantage

Flex Slots are especially powerful considering BigQuery’s unique architecture and true separation of storage and compute. Because BigQuery is serverless, provisioning Flex Slots doesn’t require instantiating virtual machines. It’s a simple back-end configuration change, so acquiring Flex Slots happens very quickly. And because BigQuery doesn’t rely on local disk for performance, there is no warm-up period with poor and unpredictable performance. Flex Slots perform optimally from the moment they’re provisioned. 

Flex Slots is an essential part of our BigQuery Reservations platform. BigQuery Reservations give intelligence-hungry enterprises the control necessary to enable their organizations with a powerful tool like BigQuery while minimizing fiscal and security risks:

  • With Reservations, administrators can centrally decide who in their organization can make purchasing decisions, neutralizing the fear of shadow IT.  

  • Users can manage and predict their organizations’ BigQuery spend and conformism to fixed budgets.

  • Administrators can optionally manage how their departments, teams, and workloads get access to BigQuery in order to meet their specific analytics needs. 

  • Flex Slots offer BigQuery users an unparalleled level of flexibility—purchase slots for short bursts to complement your steady-state workloads. 

Getting started with Flex Slots

Flex Slots are rolling out as we speak, and will be available in the coming days in the BigQuery Reservations UI.

You can purchase Flex Slots alongside monthly and annual commitment types, with the added benefit of being able to cancel them at any time after the first 60 seconds. To get started right away, try the BigQuery sandbox. If you are thinking about migrating to BigQuery from other data warehouses, check out our data warehouse migration offer