CockroachDB adds command line tool as database hits version 22.1

The Register speaks to Jim Walker about maturity and super regions


Cockroach Labs has finally added a new command line tool with the release of version 22.1 of its eponymous database, out today.

Although it was possible to deploy CockroachDB using something like Terraform (for example, deployment on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure) the process is often not particularly elegant.

"Until this release we didn't have an API to control the database," Jim Walker, recovering developer and product evangelist at Cockroach Labs told The Register during 2022's EU Kubecon in Valencia, Spain.

"It's really around control of environment: it's removing nodes, it's adding nodes, it's starting the cluster, it's stopping the cluster, the basic stuff.

"And so it's really as simple as kind of building it out so that we can actually integrate with the workflows that people have, or the way that they're delivering software in their organization. Like how we work in the context of the CI/CD flow where you're provisioning hardware or TerraForm, you're setting up security over here, the database has got to get up and running.

"That step with the database [for CockroachDB at least] was kind of a manual thing for a while there. And so we have an API."

The update also includes Quality of Service prioritization and data domiciling features, which will be handy for a potentially massively distributed database with nodes that are not necessarily where lawmakers would like them

The arrival of the API marks a step toward maturity for the database. Having been designed with distribution in mind from the outset, to run across clouds and be pretty much unkillable has proven attractive for investors (the company recently took $278 million in Series F funding, giving it a $5 billion valuation.) However, as with much of the cloud native landscape, the next challenge is integrating seamlessly into automated workflows.

"It's been a matter of 'we had to build this awesome database' and now it's like 'how does it work with all the other things?'" said Walker.

As well as the command line tooling, Cockroach Labs has applied the API to its CockroachDB Serverless product, aimed at luring developers to its world via a horizontally scalable (Postgres-compatible SQL) relational database. Pricing is based on how much is stored and the work done by queries, although small loads and data sizes of less than 5GB won't attract a charge.

"I am fascinated by the serverless thing," said Walker, "I think it should be called Infrastructureless, eventually, I think that's really what this thing becomes… what we're doing it is we're preparing it so that it can actually work for huge massive applications."

Other updates in this release include support for time-to-live (TTL) data: "Customers had requested this," said Walker, "to both optimize the db but also for use cases where they do not want data to live forever because of risk and other concerns." The automated expiration has been a feature of other database, such as Oracle's, so its arrival in CockroachDB is a further sign of the product maturing.

The update also includes Quality of Service prioritization and data domiciling features, which will be handy for a potentially massively distributed database with nodes that are not necessarily where lawmakers would like them. Super Regions groups multiple cloud regions into a larger geographical area.

It has been possible to simply add something like a country code into a table and instruct CockroachDB to filter accordingly to dictate where data should physically reside. "In this release, as people have become more mature," said Walker, "and they're getting more comfortable with that type of capability they wanted another level. So we introduced the concept of a Super Region."

"So okay, there's Germany here. There's Ireland. There's the UK, there's Portugal… Maybe I just want data to just live on any European server. But certain tables I want in Germany. So we have this concept of a Super Region, which basically collapses up a bunch of different regions into one thing."

Good for data, but not so much for non-data workloads (which are currently not Cockroach Labs' problem. Not yet, anyway.)

Overall, the latest update is, as Walker suggests, more aimed at maturity than the whizzbang features of old. Tools were added to optimize query performance and integration with Datadog makes for "single pane of glass" monitoring. ®

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