Database Week: CockroachDB spring release targets developers

The spring release of CockroachDB has a clear developer focus, with features aimed to lowering barriers to entry, and it checks off a few more boxes, such performance management, that are essential for enterprises.

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Database week continues. Just a few weeks after scoring $86.6 million in new Series D funding, Cockroach Labs has made its first major product release for calendar 2020. The Spring release, 20.1, strive to make the platform, which has been more known for distributed scale-out capabilities, more accessible for developers. It also addresses a few additional checkboxes expected of enterprise databases.

It starts with simplifying the ability to restructure the database without taking the system down. CockroachDB, the platform, already supported the ability to make schema changes and then roll them out to different instances or nodes. But when it comes to primary keys – the unique identifiers assigned to different tables – that was a more complex process. Primary keys are important to all relational databases like CockroachDB, but as a distributed database, the primary key is also where the geolocation of the table is stored. Given the dynamics of distributed databases, data may have to be physically moved to different instances when table sizes or usage shifts, requiring rebalancing of the schema layout. In 20.1, this process is greatly simplified, so that primary key changes can also be propagated in a rolling basis.

Another developer-productivity feature is expanded support of object-relational mapping (ORM) frameworks, such including Django and SQLAlchemy for Python developers; Hibernate and jOOQ for Java developers; and GORM for Go developers that use more object-based approaches to development. The goal is making CockroachDB accessible, not just to SQL developers, but to those for programming languages like Java, Python, or Go that take more object-based approaches to coding.

Other enhancements are aimed at making the platform more enterprise-ready. Developers can monitor and either pull the plug or throttle queries from hell that would otherwise bottleneck the database, aided by a new visualization capability. They have added options for so-called "follower queries" where speed, over the assurance of getting to the latest update of the data is essential. In this case, they have added options that support queries of data from updates as recent as 5 seconds ago.

Finally, Cockroach Labs is lowering barriers to access, both for authentication and access control, that have been moved from the enterprise version into the open source core (making it available to the community), and for the managed cloud service, there is now a free 30-day trial. We would like to see Cockroach broaden the free access to a limit, not by time, but by volume – something that even Oracle is now doing on its public cloud.