CockroachDB is an open-source, resilient database that automatically supports on-site and in-cloud geographical scaling and SQL. It has also shown strong growth over the last few years. Its next challenge, like ZDNet’s own Tony Baer noted on the occasion of the funding round last year, made the case that its platform is not just for the usual elite suspects.
Baer went on to add that this is where the cloud can play a key role. Fast forward to today, and that plan seems to be speeding up. Cockroach Labs, the company behind CockroachDB, today announced $ 86.6 million in Series D financing co-led by Altimeter Capital and BOND with participation from Benchmark, GV, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Capital.
ZDNet connected with Cockroach Labs CEO Spencer Kimball, to discuss the details of the deal and Cockroach Labs’ plans.
A longer course
Today’s round brings Cockroach Labs’ total funding to $ 195 million. That’s quite a lot for a company that was founded in 2015 and has focused heavily on engineering like us documented in February 2019. There are a few other things that also stand out with today’s funding round.
First, it’s less than a year since Cockroach Labs scored $ 55 million in Series C funding. Second, today’s Series D is not only hefty, but also backed by a number of Venture Capitals. Kimball noted that they have been in contact with even more VCs, most of whom proactively reached out to Cockroach Labs.
This looks like a big vote of confidence in Cockroach Labs’ outlook. It looks like Cockroach Labs is playing a bigger piece of a growing circle. As Kimball noted, the database market is already worth north of $ 60 billion and is expected to grow nearly $ 7 billion in the next few years.
A good part of it, Kimball added, was taken up by established companies that are potentially losing market share. For Cockroach Labs, this is about more than securing a long enough runway – 4 to 5 years, as a rough estimate. This is about aiming for a significant portion of this market.
Cockroach Labs notes that worldwide stay-at-home orders have dramatically increased the demand for many businesses, placing increasing stress on the modern tech stack. Economic uncertainty encourages greater efficiency, setting the stage for further migration away from old, closed-source platforms to modern, distributed, cloud-native tools.
It makes sense to put things into perspective on today’s background. However, Kimball stressed that the funding round was well underway before all this. Kevin Wang, partner at Altimeter Capital, one of the VCs leading the funding round, notes:
“Older players have long dominated the enterprise software market. With recent investments in companies such as Confluent, Snowflake and now Cockroach Labs, we are seeing huge market disruptions as companies move to the cloud and build on a modern tech stack, replacing legacy companies that struggling to adapt. Cockroach Labs is leading this next development with a world-class team, ambitious vision and a transformative product. It’s a great time to be in the cloud business. “
Cockroach Labs culture
The last time we talked to Kimball, we perceived Cockroach Labs as a first-rate engineering firm. The previous round of funding was invested in hiring new talent, doubling the number of employees over the last twelve months. However, the culture doesn’t seem to have changed much, and Cockroach Labs is still highlighting research and development.
One of the topics we discussed earlier was to place CockroachDB as an HTAP solution, ie. one that can serve both transactional and analytical workloads. Subsequently, there seems to be some degrees on that front. Looks like it’s all about priorities, and it looks like Cockroach Laboratories have set their sights right.
Kimball said there will be some analytical capabilities for CockroachDB in the future while highlighting work on things like query scheduling optimization or vectorization. While these may sound cryptic, they are actually a big deal for a database that wants to displace the established ones.
Vectorization is a technique used to improve the performance of a database for analytical queries. Essentially, as Kimball said, they have used vectorization to allow CockroachDB to process data in a bar format. This is known to work well for analytical workloads and Kimball claimed that they have seen increased performance of up to 300% in benchmarks used for such workloads, e.g. TPC-H.
Query schedulers are typical components of databases such as Oracle or SQL Server. They are important for performance as their job is to ensure that queries are executed in the most efficient way. Query planners are quite complicated and, as Kimball noted, they are even more complex for a globally distributed database. So there is considerable effort that has gone into that as well.
Kimball acknowledged that cockroachDB, in turn, will not be a direct competitor to analytical databases. And that philosophy seems to emphasize CockroachDB’s development in general: do one thing, and do it well. Kimball was well aware of the current trends in the database world today GraphQL Interfaces, or graph engines and visualization features.
However, the focus of CockroachDB seems to be on getting the most important thing right – SQL on a global scale. Anything else can be added over time (such as GraphQL) or through third-party integrations (anything that works on top of PostgreSQL must work on top of CockroachDB).
A Gmail for databases
The global public cloud services market is expected to grow nearly 20 percent in 2020 to a total of $ 260 billion, according to Gartner. It is expected that by 2022, 75 percent of all databases will be distributed or migrated to a cloud platform. This is a theme that we emphasized on Big on Data – the combination of cloud and open source Databases.
Of course, Cockroach Labs is not the only game in town when it comes to shooting databases. As we have NOTED, CockroachDB is built on the plan of Cloud wrench, Google’s fully managed relational database service for regional and global application data. Google announced new features such as backup on demand and local emulator for Spanner. Kimball thinks it’s great that Google continues to invest in Spanner:
“This move underscores the size of the market opportunity. Companies moving to the cloud are looking for next-generation databases. The ability to run with a local emulator and allow the use of foreign keys are tabular functions for a relational DB-as-a-Service (DBaaS) that we’ve been providing to our customers for some time. Now, we look to server-free as the next frontier of databases, which can dramatically reduce the friction in the dynamics of how developers consume databases. “
Serverless is an overloaded term. Kimball uses it to refer to the ability to just turn a database and go, without having to worry about configuring nodes, failover, capacity and the like. Not to be confused with what many developers know as serverless programming, for example. The concept may be similar as the foundation of serverless programming develops functions without worrying about implementation, but the context is different.
However, Kimball uses an interesting metaphor to refer to CockroachDB’s approach to self-service DBaaS. Cockroach Cloud was released in beta in October, and will generally be available this summer, probably in July as per January. Kimball. Kimball, who went over the development of the models for using databases, from local to cloud, compared Cockroach Cloud with Gmail. The analogy is simple – you just log in and go. Plus, Cockroach Cloud is the real thing, not a teaser:
“It’s actually free, which is nice. And we can allow a single developer to have many databases. So we think of it as the way Gmail changed email dynamics back in 2003, just made things a lot simpler. A lot less friction for users “.
All VCs that have funded Cockroach Labs seem to see something. We argue that something is the fact that CockroachDB appears to have a solid technical background, built on a technical-first culture, is open source, but also flexible when it comes to licensing, and ready for multi-cloud / hybrid cloud.
This means that CockroachDB could position itself as a challenger to both older databases, cloud providers and other open source databases. It will be interesting to see how things play out.