Google has released an open-ended, managed version of their internal database tool, Cloud Spanner, for use by all Google Cloud Platform customers. Google uses Spanner for many mission-critical services like the Play Store, and the Cloud Spanner implementation being made available to Google Cloud Platform customers runs in much the same way. The whole thing uses uses the widely popular SQL database backend, and things like distribution, tracking, sync, and backups are all managed automatically for the user. The pricing model is based on bandwidth, storage used, the number of nodes online, ingress and egress, and how long nodes are used. The going rate starts at $0.90 per node per hour, with full scalability and server-side management from a single node to millions. There are no fixed fees, so customers only pay for what they use.
Spanner was created and tweaked over the years to achieve the optimum balance of consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. Spanner favors consistency and partition tolerance in order to avoid data loss, but is considered highly reliable. The tool is currently in open beta, which means that any Google Cloud Platform customer can hop on board and start switching on nodes and throwing data on them. The databases are managed automatically across data centers, and can be scaled for a single office, regionally, country-wide, or even globally, all with the user letting Google take care of integration and maintenance. Since the whole deal runs on SQL, just about any database developer will be able to tweak things, while software made to allow end users access should be fairly easy to make. As a bonus, any bit of data written or read from the database generates a detailed log, which enables easy backtracking and accountability. Java, Go, Python and Node.js compatibility make it a snap to onboard even novice developers
While the pricing model is a bit steep on paper, the pricing eliminates the barrier of entry for the use of managed databases, which means that even the smallest businesses can reap the benefits of a fully managed database infrastructure. A small office with only a hundred or so employees, for instance, could have a 2-node regional database with 10 gigabytes of storage for just a bit over $650 per month. Compared to paying for two databases and full-time maintenance staff for them, the benefits of this cost model become immediately apparent, even as businesses scale out to more nodes and more storage.