Bigtable-BigQuery federation brings sizzling & chilly information nearer

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Modern businesses are increasingly relying on real-time insights to stay ahead of their competition. Whether it’s to expedite human decision-making or fully automate decisions, such insights require the ability to run hybrid transactional analytical workloads that often involve multiple data sources.

BigQuery is Google Cloud’s serverless, multi-cloud data warehouse that simplifies analytics by bringing together data from multiple sources. Cloud Bigtable is Google Cloud’s fully-managed, NoSQL database for time-sensitive transactional and analytical workloads.

Customers use Bigtable for a wide range of use cases such as real time fraud detection, recommendations, personalization and time series. Data generated by these use cases has significant business value. 

Historically, while it has been possible to use ETL tools like Dataflow to copy data from Bigtable into BigQuery to unlock this value, this approach has several shortcomings, such as data freshness issues and paying twice for the storage of the same data, not to mention having to maintain an ETL pipeline. Considering the fact that many Bigtable customers store hundreds of Terabytes or even Petabytes of data, duplication can be quite costly. Moreover, copying data using daily ETL jobs hinders your ability to derive insights from up-to-date data which can be a significant competitive advantage for your business. 

Today, with the General Availability of Bigtable federated queries with BigQuery, you can query data residing in Bigtable via BigQuery faster, without moving or copying the data, in all Google Cloud regions with increased federated query concurrency limits, closing a longstanding gap between operational data and analytics. 

During our feature preview period, we heard about two common patterns from our customers.

  1. Enriching Bigtable data with additional attributes from other data sources (using SQL JOIN operator) such as BigQuery tables and other external databases (e.g. CloudSQL, Spanner) or file formats (e.g. CSV, Parquet) supported by BigQuery

  2. Combining hot data in Bigtable with cold data in BigQuery for longitudinal data analysis over long time periods (using SQL UNION operator)

Let’s take a look at how to set up federated queries so BigQuery can access data stored in Bigtable.

Setting up an external table

Suppose you’re storing digital currency transaction logs in Bigtable. You can create an external table to make this data accessible inside BigQuery using a statement like the following.

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