UPDATED 13:28 EST / JANUARY 29 2021

CLOUD

Google releases new database tools for developers

Google LLC has released two new tools, one a cloud service and the other an open-source software library, that developers can use to troubleshoot database issues slowing down their applications.

The search giant detailed both on Thursday. The cloud service is known as Cloud SQL Insights, and the open-source library was released under the name Sqlcommenter. 

Database issues are one of the most common causes of application slowdowns. They can also be among the trickiest to fix because there often aren’t enough database administrators at a company to address every problem in a timely manner. 

“DBAs are highly outnumbered and have become a scarce resource in virtually every organization,” explained Google Cloud database engineering head Andi Gutmans and product manager Nimesh Bhagat. “Urgent performance issues in production applications can go unresolved, leaving customers with a poor experience.”

One tactic for alleviating the load on administrators is to give application developers tools they can use to troubleshoot performance issues on their own. That’s the role Google envisions for its newly released Cloud SQL Insights and Sqlcommenter tools.

Cloud SQL visualizes how different components of an application interact with a database and which queries are taking too long to carry out. It can, for instance, show if an e-commerce app’s catalog is experiencing delays when fetching product information from the database.

The tool displays the information in a dashboard that lets developers quickly spot and fix issues causing performance drops. For the troubleshooting phase, Cloud SQL Insights provides access to a detailed breakdown of the sub-tasks a database performs to carry out a query and how much time each takes to complete. 

The key challenge Cloud SQL Insights tackles, which is also a major reason behind why developers normally need administrators’ help to troubleshoot database issues, is the difficulty of tracing database issues back to the application components causing them. There are already tools that can show what query is slowing down a workload. But those tools often don’t provide insight into what specific component of the workload sent that query, which is the information developers ultimately need to fix the problem inside their applications.

The other half of Google’s answer to the challenge is Sqlcommenter, the open-source tool it introduced alongside Cloud SQL Insights. Sqlcommenter matches queries to the application components that generate them by automatically adding descriptive tags to application code. Those tags, in turn, provide the information that Cloud SQL Insights uses to display the root cause of performance issues.

Sqlcommenter works not only with Cloud SQL Insights but also with other diagnostics tools. Additionally, it has strong support for object-relational mapping tools, a technology that most enterprise applications rely on to power their database-facing components.

“Application developers need to do very little application code change to enable Sqlcommenter for their applications,” Google Cloud software engineer Bala Chandrasekeran detailed in a blog post. “Observability information from Sqlcommenter can be used by application developers directly using slow query logs, or it can be integrated into other products or tools, such as Cloud SQL Insights, to provide application-centric monitoring.” 

Image: Google

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