YugabyteDB is a free and open-source, distributed, relational, NewSQL database management system. It is designed to handle large amounts of data spanning across multiple availability zones and geographic regions. YugabyteDB provides single-digit latency, high availability, and no single point of failure. We’ve talked with David Walker, Field CTO, EMEA of Yugabyte about the history of the company, its products and the industry.
Could you please tell us a brief history of Yugabyte? What services does YugaByte provide?
Yugabyte is the company behind YugabyteDB, the open-source, high-performance distributed SQL database for building global, internet-scale applications. YugabyteDB serves business-critical applications with SQL query flexibility, high performance and cloud native agility, allowing enterprises to focus on business growth instead of complex data infrastructure management.
Yugabyte was founded in 2016 by former Facebook and Oracle engineers, and was named a 2020 Cool Vendor by Gartner. Backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dell Technologies Capital, 8VC, Wipro Ventures and Greenspring Associates, it is used by companies in cybersecurity, financial markets, IoT, retail, e-commerce, and other verticals.
Could you please give us a general update on Yugabyte? What have you been focusing on in the past year?
The biggest driver for Yugabyte is to be: the go-to database for the cloud-native world. That means scale-out, elastic and distributed with support for strong consistency and concurrency. But we regard these as table stakes, so this year we’ve been making it easier to develop those cloud-native apps by updating and expanding support for key cloud technologies including Spark, Kafka, GraphQL (with our partners Hasura), Kubernetes (including support for VMware Tanzu).
And we’ve been further beefing up our security support, which is a must for our growing financial services and ecommerce client base as well as many others. We have encryption for data at rest and in motion, support for LDAP, tokenization, data residency and more.
How does COVID-19 affect cloud computing? How has Yugabyte responded to the COVID-19 crisis?
During COVID-19, we have seen an even greater market shift to using digital technology in order to achieve digital transformation, and having cloud computing as the enabler. Whilst previous generations of cloud engineers were focused on virtualisation (putting everything you could into non-local servers in a datacentre) and containerisation (the idea that rather than having to install every piece of software onto an operating system on a virtual server) you could put it into a container, many were broadly convinced that this would address the IT complexity.
Our focus has always been, now accelerated by COVID, the database challenge. Going to the cloud and making your service available to everyone in any time/any place/any device means that the database must always be available.
Ten years ago, the big database solutions were all transactional SQL databases that ran on a single server (or close-coupled cluster of proprietary servers). Their reliance on proprietary hardware and a monolithic architecture, made them a poor fit for cloud computing. NoSQL databases looked like they were the way forward embracing as they did: horizontal scaling to break the monolith; raised resilience; and geo-distribution. Those qualities made them a good fit for cloud-native, microservices.
But NoSQL databases mostly discarded SQL – which was the data language of choice for developers and tools – and even more importantly they failed to support effective transactional capability. There are multiple use cases that demonstrate how difficult it is to deliver based only on virtualised, microservices and NoSQL approach. At the same time, we can’t go back to the big old Oracle and IBM servers with all the data-centre investment that implies.
Our focus on cloud-native technology is helping organisations, cross-sector, to achieve their digital transformation goals. Our COVID-19 response continues to be the provision of a low code, cloud, distributed, transactional data approach that can supply the one piece of the puzzle left that NoSQL hasn’t been able to deliver: simple, reliable, instant and scale-out transactional support.
What are your thoughts on the DBaaS providers’ market?
Our enterprise customers tend to want to manage their own data. Not all but most of them. Their requirements are complex, but they have the skills to do that. For smaller organisations, the cost of acquiring, developing and retaining those skills is a different proposition, and we can see SMEs being very attracted to DBaaS. We see that happening with the major cloud vendors, although often that comes with a lock-in to their cloud supplier’s own proprietary offerings. So, there is a hidden cost to be borne there.
What is YugabyteDB? Tell us about the features that make it unique.
Well, I hinted at that before. If you look at cloud-native databases, we’ve got NoSQL databases offering distribution – but having sacrificed strong consistency; we’ve got the on-prem monolithic databases migrating to cloud – but unable to meet the critical requirements for scale-out and only bringing their clunky master-backup approach to resilience. Yugabyte gives you all those capabilities a cloud-native, distributed, SQL database.
How is the feedback so far about the YugabyteDB Connector for Apache Kafka?
It’s going well. It’s still new and it’s not essential for all our customers’ workloads, but it’s proving very helpful where there is a need. I’d characterise it as another example of us making it easy for developers to use the tools they’re familiar with and trust.
What about Yugabyte Platform? How does it help the organizations?
If you’re a supported YugabyteDB customer, you get Yugabyte Platform as part of the licence, because it’s in our interests that our customers are as self-reliant as possible. That’s what Yugabyte Platform does for them. It gives them a powerful set of tools with a high level of automation to deploy, monitor and manage the Yugabyte databases. We’re helping customers streamline their Day-1 and Day-2 operations processes. Platform is a big focus for us; and we think of it as going beyond tooling for enablement, towards empowerment.
We know that Yugabyte Cloud is currently in Beta. But we are still curious, so tell us more about it please.
Not too much more to tell, at the moment. Before launching a whole new product line, we naturally felt we needed an extensive public beta program and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’re not testing the actual database – under the covers this is plain old YugabyteDB.
What we’re exercising here are, firstly, our processes for delivering a new service and, secondly, the match of that service onto the needs of potential customers. I’d say we’re pretty pleased with progress on the first and the positive response we’ve seen speaks well to the second. Stay tuned for more updates here very soon.
What plans do you have for the future?
It was about ten years ago that the term ‘NewSQL’ was coined to describe the movement break up the monolith that SQL databases mandated, and deliver scalable, resilient and distributed SQL. It’s been a bumpy road for some, and the term has now largely been discarded, but the prize – operational systems of record that are in the cloud and of the cloud – has been seen as worth it.
Indeed, without it, it’s impossible to fully exploit the potential of cloud computing. But when you hear about most of the offerings in this space, they end up tying you to a specific cloud vendor, no multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud, just a different kind of vendor lock in. Our goal is to disrupt that: open-source, industry standard APIs like PostgreSQL with no lock-in. Plus all those scalable, transactional, distributed SQL goodies that we found we couldn’t do without.
Do you have any additional suggestions, comments for the industry?
The first generation of cloud migration was largely about turning capex into opex. But cloud provided a perfect incubator for applications modernisation. Existing trends in the industry like service-oriented architecture – evolving into microservices; virtualisation – evolving into orchestrated containerisation; and agile software development practices – evolving into devops came together in this new world. And they gave us rapid and agile delivery of cloud-native applications.
But while applications modernisation surged ahead, the data layer was still struggling with lift-and-shift monolithic databases on the back end. I think that’s the next revolution, modernisation of the data layer. And we plan to be at the centre of that significant market change.