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Google Cloud Platform – Introduction to Cloud Spanner

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  • Last Updated : 08 Jan, 2021
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  The ability for your business to tackle the unpredictable is critical, whether tackling unexpected shifts in supply chains or surges in customer demand. At the core, you need a database that can back your business, power next-gen applications, and leaves all of the management to somebody else without breaking the bank. So you don’t have to worry about quick shifts any longer.

We demand a lot of our databases, and our databases demand a lot of us. Your database can be a powerful engine or a management headache. Traditionally, databases tend to be fragile, expensive, and tough to maintain. Without one that can scale without limits, provide data consistency, and eliminate management overhead, you’re faced with an inability to scale with new business needs, data inconsistencies that can risk losing your customers’ trust, and cost inefficiencies, since IT teams are tied up maintaining those systems instead of innovating. Your developers wind up implementing their own complicated database sharding or partitioning strategy, which leads to over-provisioning of resources and ballooning costs, not to mention the cost of managing backups, scheduling maintenance windows, meeting performance requirements, and securing the entire thing.

You end up having to pick between scale, consistency, or management-free. You can’t have it all unless you use Google Cloud Spanner, a fully-managed relational database service that scales horizontally, is strongly consistent and uses SQL. Spanner offers an industry-leading 99.999% availability with automatic software updates and instant optimization. You get zero downtime and no maintenance windows. It’s used to power workloads large and small, from applications for just a few to massive apps with global users. Spanner is simple to use and manage, so you can build applications that transform your business while lowering your Total Cost of Ownership(TCO).

Let’s look into it in detail. First off, Spanner offers scale. For relational databases, significant effort is required to grow a cluster horizontally to support additional capacity, and setting up data replication in different parts of the world has never been easy. You’re left with an extremely complex architecture requiring a specialized team to maintain. With Spanner, you don’t need to shard or replicate data nor build intricate frameworks to scale up quickly. It vastly simplifies your architecture and operations because it automatically distributes data and automatically handles replicas, sharding, and transaction processing across regions and continents so you can quickly scale to meet any usage pattern, deliver data closest to your end-users with the lowest possible latency.


  Traditional databases force users to choose between performance and consistency. With eventual consistency, you risk serving stale data to customers, which might not be acceptable in time-sensitive situations like retail, finance, and gaming. For example, showing an item in stock online when in reality, it may be zero. This can lead to a bad customer experience and loss of trust.

Spanner uses True Time, which leverages a fully redundant system of atomic clocks. That means Spanner applies a timestamp based on a globally agreed-upon clock to every transaction on commit. Transactions in different regions are executed sequentially on the commit timestamp. 

High Availability:

Spanner offers up to an industry-leading 99.999% availability, so you’re protected from failures. Spanner provides high availability via a synchronous replication between replicas in independent zones. It uses a Paxos base replication scheme in which rights are committed only when a majority quorum is achieved.

You can choose between regional and multi-regional replicas that span continents across the globe. Unlike typical database services,  Spanner does not need any maintenance windows or downtime. Spanner also offers online schema changes, meaning easy schema updates, no downtime, no disruption for your users.

Spanner is enterprise-proven, secure, and battle-tested at Google. With features like manage backup and restore and open source emulator for local testing, a variety of client libraries and performance tuning tools, you can achieve business continuity, lower development your developers to get started right away.


Data-layer encryption, IAM integration for access and controls, and comprehensive audit logging give you enterprise-grade security. Spanner’s been used in industries like gaming for user-profiles and real-time play data, fintech for account data and ledgers, healthcare for medical records and patient data, retail for supply chain and inventory management, tech for real-time decision making and performance data, and media for digital rights management and catalog metadata. 

Spanner is the enterprise database giving you the best of relational and non-relational features with transactional consistency, SQL support, automatic sharding and replication, and nearly unlimited scale.

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