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Latest database innovations for transforming the customer experience

September 15, 2022
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Sailesh Krishnamurthy

VP Engineering, Databases

Google Cloud Next '22

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We’re all accustomed to Google magic in our daily lives. When we need information like the time a store closes, the best route to a destination, help cooking a favorite recipe — we just ask Google. Google is known for providing useful information everywhere, wherever you are. 

But for business, it isn’t so easy to get answers to important questions.  In a recent study by HBR, only 30% of respondents report having a well-articulated data strategy and, at most, 24% of respondents said they thought their organization was data-driven. If you asked, most of these executives would probably tell you they’re drowning in data, so how come they’re struggling to be data-driven?

Data’s journey begins in operational databases, where the data is born as users and systems interact with applications. Operational databases are the backbone of applications and are essential ingredients for building innovative customer experiences. At Google Cloud, we have been focused on building a unified and open platform that provides you the easiest and fastest way to innovate with data. Google’s data cloud enables data teams to manage each stage of the data lifecycle from operational transactions in databases to analytical applications across data warehouses, lakes, data marts, and to rich data-driven experiences. 

For example, Merpay, a mobile payment service in Japan, wanted to build its experience on a database that delivered on requirements around availability, scalability and performance. By using Cloud Spanner, Merpay was able to reduce overhead costs and ultimately devote engineering resources to developing new tools and solutions for their customers. 

If you’re looking to bring the same kinds of transformation to your organization, let’s dive into the latest database announcements and how they can help you do that:

Tap into transformative database capabilities

Google’s data cloud allows organizations to build transformative applications quickly with our one-of-a-kind databases such as Cloud Spanner, Google Cloud’s fully managed relational database with global scale, strong consistency, and industry leading 99.999% availability. Leading businesses across industries such as Sabre, Vimeo, Uber, ShareChat,  Niantic, and Macy's use Spanner to power their mission-critical applications and delight customers. Recent innovations in Spanner such as granular instance sizing and PostgreSQL interface lower the barrier to entry for Spanner, thus making it accessible for any developer and for any application, big or small. 

In that effort, we are excited to announce Spanner free trial instances to give developers an easy way to explore Spanner at no cost. The new free trial for Spanner provides a zero-cost, hands–on experience to try out Spanner and comes with guided tutorials and a sample database. The Spanner free trial provides a Spanner instance with 10GB storage for 90 days. Customers can upgrade to a paid instance anytime during the 90-day period to continue exploring Spanner and unlock the full capabilities of Spanner, such as unlimited scaling and multi-region deployments. To learn more about the new free trial, you can read this blog and watch this short video. Start your free trial today in the Google Cloud console

We’re also excited to announce the preview of fine-grained access control for Spanner that lets you authorize access to Spanner data at the table and column level. Spanner already provides access control with Identity and Access Management (IAM) which enables a simple and consistent access control interface for all Google Cloud services. With fine-grained access control, it’s now easier than ever to protect your transactional data in Spanner and ensure appropriate security controls are in place when granting access to data. Learn more about fine-grained access control in this blog.

Generate exponential value from data with a unified data cloud 

Google's common infrastructure for data management has many advantages. Thanks to our highly durable distributed file systems, disaggregated compute and storage at every layer, and high-performance Google-owned global networking, we’re able to provide best-in-class, tightly integrated operational and analytical data services with superior availability and scale at the best price- performance and operational efficiency.

In that effort, today we’re excited to announce Datastream for BigQuery, now in preview. Developed in close partnership with the BigQuery team, Datastream for BigQuery delivers a unique, truly seamless and easy-to-use experience that enables real-time insights in BigQuery with just a few steps.

Datastream efficiently replicates updates directly from source systems into BigQuery tables in real-time by using BigQuery’s newly developed Change Data Capture (CDC) and Storage Write API’s UPSERT functionality. You no longer have to waste valuable resources building and managing complex data pipelines, self-managing staging tables, tricky DML merge logic, or manual conversion from database-specific data types into BigQuery data types. Just configure your source database, connection type, and destination in BigQuery and you’re all set.

Klook, a Hong Kong-based travel company, is one industry-leading enterprise using Datastream for BigQuery to help drive better business decisions. “Prior to adopting Datastream, we had a team of data engineers dedicated to the task of ingesting data into BigQuery, and we spent a lot of time and effort making sure that the data was accurate,” said Stacy Zhu, senior manager for data at Klook. “With Datastream, our data analysts can have accurate data readily available to them in BigQuery with a simple click. We enjoy Datastream's ease of use and its performance helps us achieve large scale ELT data processing.”

Achievers, an award-winning employee engagement software and platform, recently adopted Datastream, as well. “Achievers had been heavily using Google Cloud VMs (GCE), and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)” says Daljeet Saini, lead data architect at Achievers. “With the help of Datastream, Achievers will be streaming data into BigQuery and enabling our analysts and data scientists to start using BigQuery for smart analytics, helping us take the data warehouse to the next level.”

To make it easier to stream database changes to BigQuery and other destinations, Datastream is also adding support for PostgreSQL databases as a source, also in preview. Datastream sources now include MySQL, PostgreSQL, AlloyDB for PostgreSQL, and Oracle databases, which can be hosted on premises, on Google Cloud services such as Cloud SQL or Bare Metal Solution for Oracle, or anywhere else on any cloud. 

Key use cases for Datastream include real-time analytics, database replication via continuous change data capture, and enablement of event-driven application architectures. In real-world terms, real-time insights can help a call center provide better service by measuring call wait times continuously, rather than retrospectively at the end of the week or month. And retailers or logistics companies that do inventory management based on real-time data can become far less wasteful than if it were based on periodic reports.

Accelerate your modernization journey to the cloud 

In recent years, application developers and IT decision makers have increasingly adopted open-source databases to ensure application portability and extensibility and prevent lock-in. They’re no longer willing to tolerate the opaque costs or the overpriced and restrictive licensing of legacy database vendors.

In particular, PostgreSQL has become the emerging standard for cloud-based enterprise applications. Many organizations are choosing to standardize on PostgreSQL to reduce the learning curve for their teams and avoid the lock-in from the previous generation of databases. Google’s data cloud offers several PostgreSQL database options including AlloyDB for PostgreSQL, a PostgreSQL-compatible database that provides a powerful option for migrating, modernizing, or building commercial-grade workloads

To help developers and data engineers modernize and migrate their applications and databases to the cloud, we’re pleased to announce, in preview, that our Database Migration Service (DMS) now supports PostgreSQL migrations to AlloyDB. DMS makes the journey from PostgreSQL to AlloyDB easier and faster, with a serverless migration you can set up in just a few clicks. Together with Oracle to PostgreSQL data and schema migration support, also in preview, DMS gives you a way to modernize legacy databases and adopt a modern, open technology platform. Learn more about PostgreSQL to AlloyDB migration with DMS in this blog.

Among organizations adopting PostgreSQL is SenseData. A platform created to improve the relationship between companies and customers, SenseData is a market leader in Latin America in the field of Customer Success. 

"At Sensedata, we’ve built our customer success platform on PostgreSQL, and are looking to increase our platform performance and scale for the next phase of our growth," said Paulo Souza, co-founder and CTO of SenseData. "We have a mixed database workload, requiring both fast transactional performance and powerful analytical processing capabilities, and our initial testing of AlloyDB for PostgreSQL has given impressive results, with more than a 350% performance improvement in our initial workload, without any application changes. We're looking forward to using Database Migration Service for an easy migration of multiple terabytes of data to AlloyDB."

CURA Grupo is one of Brazil’s largest medical diagnostics conglomerates with over 1,600 employees, 500 qualified physicians, and 6 million examinations conducted every year. With more than 30,000 examinations performed every day, storing the database on premises was becoming increasingly unfeasible. CURA Grupo used Database Migration Service to migrate to Google Cloud, along with synchronization between their on-prem server’s database and the cloud. The result was an easy transition with just around 20 minutes of downtime.

To learn more about these exciting innovations and more, join us at Next 22 happening on October 11-13. You will also hear from customers such as PLAID, Major League Baseball, DaVita, CERC, Credit Karma, Box, and Forbes who are all innovating faster with Google Cloud databases.

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