How to talk to your database

Today: Google Cloud's Andi Gutmans explains how generative AI is changing database management, CISA warns SiSense customers to buckle up, and the latest enterprise moves.

How to talk to your database
Photo by Campaign Creators / Unsplash

Welcome to Runtime! Today: Google Cloud's Andi Gutmans explains how generative AI is changing database management, CISA warns SiSense customers to buckle up, and the latest enterprise moves.

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Eventually consistent

LAS VEGAS — Long before OpenAI's ChatGPT kicked off the generative AI craze, Google Cloud enjoyed an advantage among the AI curious thanks to investments in tools like BigQuery, a data warehouse that was popular even with companies that preferred to do most of their computing on AWS or Microsoft Azure. Now that every company is under pressure to articulate an AI strategy, Google announced plans this week to bring its Gemini foundation model into the heart of its database product lineup.

Andi Gutmans, vice president and general manager of database at Google, said these new Gemini-powered features will give database administrators a new set of tools to maximize uptime and write the specialized code needed to manage one of the most important parts of any company's tech stack. Users of Gemini in Databases will be able to generate SQL code with natural-language input and take advantage of an AI database-management system "that doesn't go to sleep when you go to sleep," Gutman said in an interview this week at Google Cloud Next.

Gutmans also touched on the future of vector databases and Google's decision to back Valkey, an open-source fork of Redis that arose after Redis (the company) decided to change the licensing behind its namesake project. Excerpts from our interview at Google Cloud Next follow below:

On Gemini in Databases and database code generation:

Gutmans: One of the big benefits of Gemini in Databases is that it watches your whole database's state for you; not just point databases, but [it] actually can make sure that all your databases are backed up, everything is secure, if you have performance issues calling those out. We're very excited about it, because it's not only a proactive question and answering experience, this system doesn't go to sleep when you go to sleep and can also make recommendations as it's watching your systems that can give you feedback.

While it's not completely different (moving) from generic natural language to SQL, what you'll find is if you just do generic natural language to SQL, your results aren't going to be that great. So what we really do is we make sure that we understand the context, we understand your metadata, and we really inject the right information to the foundation model to truly generate the SQL at a much, much higher quality.

On vector databases:

I would say in general there's not a one size fits all (approach), but I would say that our hypothesis in the database team and what we're hearing from customers is (they) really have a huge amount of operational data locked up in their operational databases. These are systems that they trust from a security, governance, data protection, availability perspective. It would be much simpler for many use cases to just have those vector capabilities in [that] database.

A lot of purpose-built databases are about different data models, right? So data models could be document, relational, graph, and so on. Vector is really not a data model, it's a data type. And when you look at databases over time, a lot of these data types are just added to the databases over time with an ability to index and then query those data types. 

On Google's decision to back Valkey and the future of open source:

From our perspective, customers really value open source. Obviously Redis the company is open to make any decisions it wants with its IP and for its business, but we did hear from customers that they really valued the fact that this was a true open-source community. So when a set of community members got together and decided that they wanted to invest their personal time to continue to drive the open-source version, we felt that was a good cause to support. We also have one engineer on our team that is actually part of that founding community.

I think there's lots of different business models and approaches, and they're all valid. But I think it is good for companies to be very clear and consistent. Because otherwise you lose the trust of the community.

Read the full interview on Runtime here.

Stop making sense

CISA issued a stark warning to SiSense customers Thursday that recently determined that the company had suffered a security breach and sensitive login information could have been exposed to attackers. Customers are being urged to "reset credentials and secrets" used with SiSense's services and report any suspicious activity to the agency.

Earlier on Thursday SiSense CISO Sangram Dash notified customers that "certain SiSense company information may have been made available on what we have been advised is a restricted access server (not generally available on the internet)," according to Brian Krebs. That statement implies SiSense credentials are being shared on underground hacking forums often used to trade stolen logins, credit cards, or personally identifiable information.

SiSense sells data analytics software that tracks application performance, which by definition means it needs to access sensitive components of those applications. Bloomberg reported that more than 1,000 customers could have been exposed, and CISA promised to update its warning as more information becomes available.

Enterprise moves

Ben Elms is the new CEO of Expereo after two years as chief revenue officer of the networking company and following a long career at Vodafone.

Nate Stewart is the new CEO at Materialize, joining the data warehouse vendor from Cockroach Labs, where he was chief product officer.

Andrew Ng is the newest member of Amazon's board of directors, adding decades of AI experience to the company.

John Howard is the senior architect at, joining the company after several years at Google helping build the Istio service mesh.

The Runtime roundup

It was a busy day for CISA, which confirmed hackers stole emails managed by Microsoft from federal agencies in an attack first disclosed in January.

Amazon must pay $525 million in damages after a jury ruled that AWS's S3 and DynamoDB services violated existing patents, but it plans to appeal the verdict.

Docusign unveiled its concept of an "intelligent agreement management platform," which will use AI to generate and evaluate business contracts in a strategy previewed by company president Inhi Cho Suh in Runtime last year.

Talk about tech debt: San Francisco's Muni system relies on a set of three 5.25-inch floppy disks to manage trains running underground and will keep that system in place until at least 2030, which is entirely believable if you've ever depended on Muni.

Thanks for reading — see you Saturday!

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