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CockroachDB introduces Serverless as a cloud database option

The database vendor added a serverless option for cloud database-as-a-service deployments. Aimed at developers, the serverless model follows a cloud-native development trend.

Cockroach Labs has joined the growing trend of providing a serverless database as a service.

The vendor develops the CockroachDB distributed SQL database and has had a Cockroach Cloud database service on the market since 2018.

The existing Cockroach Cloud provides a service in which users pay for a certain amount of compute and storage. On Oct. 19, Cockroach Labs introduced a beta of a new Serverless option, which doesn't require users to predetermine how much server capacity they need. Instead, the serverless model is a pay-as-you-go elastic approach.

The vendor is not abandoning its existing Cockroach Cloud service.

Rather, it is now referring to the older service as Cockroach Dedicated, with the serverless version as an option for users. With a serverless option for its cloud database, Cockroach Labs follows other database vendors and their new serverless DBaaS platforms such as Couchbase Capella and DataStax Astra.

The move toward serverless DBaaS is a positive development, said Sanjeev Mohan, founder of SanjMo Advisory.

"The continuing evolution of distributed SQL databases continues unabated, and this is another major leap," Mohan said.

Mohan said customers need to focus on their database to power analytics, business intelligence and other applications and they want to do it as efficiently as possible without having to worry about the underpinnings of the technology. The beta launch of Cockroach Labs Serverless system takes Cockroach customers a step closer to that goal of ease of use.

Screenshot of Cockroach Labs deployment options dashboard.
Cockroach Labs is now offering its cloud database users two different deployment options for running the distributed SQL database.

"CockroachDB has continued to innovate with their customer and solution focus, and the end goal is an amazing customer experience of using data," Mohan said.

The difference between CockroachDB Dedicated and Serverless

Nate Stewart, chief product officer at Cockroach Labs, said the original CockroachCloud eliminated complexity and make it easier to manage a relational database.

The continuing evolution of distributed SQL databases continues unabated, and this is another major leap.
Sanjeev MohanFounder, SanjMo Advisory

However, Stewart noted that some things were still complex for developers, including figuring out how to appropriately size a deployment. 

With Cockroach Cloud Dedicated, users get a dedicated array inside of a virtual private cloud (VPC) that runs a CockroachDB cluster. In the new CockroachDB Serverless, developers get access to a CockroachDB cluster that is deployed and operated by Cockroach Labs, with compute and memory resources already provisioned and running.

"We handle everything that has to do with the number of machines and how big the machines are," Stewart said.

The other difference is the time it takes to have an operational cluster. Stewart said that with the Cockroach Cloud Dedicated approach, resources need to be started, which can take up to several minutes. With the serverless model, the resources are already running and users can get access to a cluster in under five seconds, he said.

CockroachDB Serverless is an option

While the serverless model provides some advantages, the vendor does not intend it  replace the Cockroach Cloud Dedicated.

Stewart explained that the dedicated model provides more configuration control for organizations to tune a CockroachDB cluster. There are also security considerations, as the dedicated cloud option runs inside of a VPC, where an organization can configure specific security controls to limit access. For example, with VPC peering, an organization can lock down access to cloud resources to specific networks.

Stewart said that while the dedicated service has strong security controls, CockroachDB Serverless is also secure.

"We've built CockroachDB Serverless from the ground up to make sure that one person can't see another person's data," Stewart said. "But security configuration is going to be one of the reasons that people, particularly on the larger enterprise side, would opt for dedicated versus serverless."

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