A blog post published today introduces Google’s latest project, the public beta for Cloud Spanner. This service will be a ‘globally distributed relational database,’ a cloud-powered service that revolutionizes the field of data collection.
The Spanner project is almost ten years old, even though Google seems to suggest otherwise. The first idea was to create the world’s first global database, but Cloud Spanner arguably exceeds these expectations.
To learn more, interested parties should visit the Cloud Spanner website. There they will learn if their computers can work with the software, and access a free trial if they choose to build applications with Spanner.
The world’s first horizontally-scalable global database
Google wants Spanner to connect with information from all over the world and also make it readily available for any user looking to work with the Spanner system. Which is why they made the project horizontally-scalable.
Databases usually work in a ‘vertical’ scaling way, meaning that more information enters the system by improving the hardware. Horizontal scaling means connecting more computers to the database, so they all work as one, so they all improve the other’s performance.
Google has created a database that grows stronger (and bigger) every time a new computer connects to it, which arguably means that everyone using receives the same amount of benefit.
As the Spanner project has had a very long gestation period, it currently includes hundreds of thousands of servers. As a result, Cloud Spanner can handle unprecedented amounts of work and deliver with 99.999% reliability.
Google is preparing the cloud for the challenges of the future
Spanner does not only handle trillions of rows of data without crashing on hundreds of servers and millions of nodes around the world. The most compelling feature about this project might be the fact that it does so consistently.
Consistency is important in any database. When a user makes a change, it’s hard to prevent other simultaneous changes (by other users) from canceling the first one and potentially corrupting the data.
Spanner is so fast that as a system, it addresses this problem with ‘single-digit millisecond latency,’ according to Google. Such a speed is (in a literal sense) quicker than the blink of an eye.
As cloud computing becomes the worldwide standard and physical servers disappear, the need for readily available information only gets bigger.
Following on the footsteps of other services, such as Microsoft’s Azure project, Spanner will ultimately change the way people manage their data.