Cloud databases are off to a fast start in 2021, with a slew of significant new products, 9-figure investments, aggressive go-to-market moves and more in the past few weeks.
The level of activity is unlikely to let up. As businesses aggressively move growing portions of their IT environments to the cloud, database vendors of all shapes and sizes are racing to keep up.
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Over the past few weeks, Oracle introduced a new version of its flagship database, and Pinecone Systems, a startup, exited stealth mode with a new vector database for machine learning. In January, AWS issued more than a dozen announcements of new database features and capabilities.
Big love for Cockroach, Databricks
There also has been investment. Cockroach Labs disclosed $160 million in new funding, while Databricks, which develops a data platform for AI, analytics, and data science, on February 1 revealed an additional $1 billion in funding, including new investors AWS and Salesforce.
And Snowflake revealed plans to push into vertical industries with a series of events in March. Both developments signal “watch this space” for more to happen in the months ahead.
Here is a recap of 10 major developments in the cloud database market that took place in January. Together, they provide evidence of a fast-moving, fast-growing market driven by business transformation and customer demand.
Jumpstarting 2021: 10 Big Cloud Database Developments
- Oracle launched Oracle Database 21c, the latest version if its flagship database with more than 200 new features and improvements. Oracle’s “converged” database supports multiple data types (relational, JSON, XML, graph, spatial, OLAP, time series, blockchain) and multiple workloads (transaction processing, analytics, machine learning, streaming, IoT, in-memory).
- Neo4j announced general availability of Neo4j Aura Enterprise, a fully managed cloud database service. Neo4j’s graph database is used for managing data and “connected data sets.” Customers include Dun & Bradstreet, Boston Scientific, and PwC.
- Pinecone Systems launched what it describes as the “first serverless vector database for machine learning.” A vector is a long list of numbers. The database supports real-time apps such as semantic text search, recommendations, and anomaly detection. Pinecone says a major retailer is using its technology to provide real-time shopping recommendations.
- Elastic, developer of Elasticsearch search engine, has switched from the Apache 2 open source license to the Server Side Public License. Elastic made the move to prevent AWS from benefiting from its development efforts, not unlike what MongoDB did in 2018. In response, AWS plans to develop its own Elasticsearch alternative, resulting in a fork of the code base. ZDNet asks, “Are open source databases dead?”
- Cockroach Labs raised $160 million in series E funding, to drive development of its SQL relational database. Cockroach Labs’ latest innovation, a “forever free” version of CockroachCloud for development and education, is expected to be released in beta shortly.
- Snowflake revealed it is making a push into vertical industries with a series of events happening in March. Events are slated for Healthcare and Life Sciences; Financial Services and Insurance; Public Sector; Retail and CPG; Media, Entertainment, and Advertising; and Manufacturing.
- During a briefing with analysts, Microsoft discussed the most in-demand customer requirements for its Azure Synapse Analytics platform, which was released into general availability in December. They are: price/performance, security, automated machine learning, and Synapse Studio, a SQL editor with built-in visualizations.
- Google Cloud continues to expand its cloud database offerings amid a tug-of-war with other cloud database providers for customers. In a blog post, Google Cloud announced expanded capabilities—including a tenth availability zone and PCI DSS/HIPPA compliance—for its Bare Metal Solution, which is designed to run Oracle database workloads in the Google Cloud.
- As another indicator of momentum, the annual run rate for SAP’s S/4HANA ERP system in the cloud is $967 million, according to Reuters. SAP HANA is the underlying cloud database for S/4HANA in the cloud. CFO Luka Mucic said S4/HANA deployments are “picking up very quickly,” with nearly 3,300 customers.
- As a reminder of ever-present threats, hackers gained access to a backup database of millions of customer records belonging to Bonobos, the clothing retailer owned by Wal-Mart, according to BleepingComputer. No mention of the type of database involved or cause of the vulnerability.
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