CockroachDB tempts legacy databases to crawl into the cloud age

CockroachDB has released its 23.2 iteration containing new features designed to tempt mainframe and other legacy database users to shift workloads to its distributed cloud-based system.

In the new release, the database-as-a-service company, whose customers include Comcast, audio company Bose, and cosmetics firm Lush, said it had rebuilt stored procedures to be significantly more powerful.

Stored procedures are database subroutines made available to applications. They are commonly used for access control, for example, in well-established enterprise database systems such as Oracle and IBM’s Db2.

Nate Stewart, Cockroach Labs’ chief product officer, said the work on stored procedures was part of the company’s plan to provide better support for projects involving migration of enterprise workloads as opposed to focusing on greenfield implementations.

CockroachDB is wire-compatible with PostgreSQL, and aims to improve its compatibility over time. Its new implementation, PL/pgSQL for stored procedures, uses the distributed execution engine so users can process large amounts of transactional data in parallel, the company said.

“Stored procedures have been an interesting topic at Cockroach because initially, we tended to focus a little bit more on greenfield applications. When we looked at new workloads from that lens, we didn’t see new applications being built with stored procedures because if we were going to add application logic, we’re going to put them in a microservice: we can decouple it from the database,” Stewart told The Register.

However, as the Cockroach Labs started to see customers migrate mission-critical workloads such as payments, inventory management, and access management, the thinking began to change.

Although Stewart singled out IBM Db2 as a database that might see some workloads move to CockroachDB, he was quick to emphasize that “the mainframe isn’t going anywhere.”

Better support for stored procedures has been on the shopping list for PostgreSQL, the open source database with which CockroachDB is wire-compatible.

MIT computer science professor Michael Stonebraker, who first proposed Postgres in 1986, has described how a Stanford student conducted a survey of developers and found in the feedback that the stumbling points included no debugger, no versioning, no test environment, a lack of standards, and a lack of language support.

“User-defined functions and stored procedures are a pain in the butt to get to production, because in development and debugging, they are really painful. So please, please, please PostgreSQL: you can fix the tooling for user-defined functions and stored procedures. You can implement debugger, it’s not that hard,” he told the Postgres Vision conference in 2022.

In addition to stored procedures, Cockroach Labs has announced the so-called migrate off legacy technology program, or MOLT, which promises flexible data movement options tailored to different applications and business requirements and physical cluster replication designed for organizations built around two datacenters without access to a third on-prem or cloud region. ®


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