Data is intense. It’s intense because it’s important, it’s intense because it is often deeply layered to a rich degree affording it a kind of inherent intensity… and data is also intense because it now forms what the tech industry likes to call data-intensive applications.

A data-intensive application is not just an app that handles a lot of data (although it is that too – and today we’re talking about data in terabytes, petabytes and exabytes with the promise of zettabytes & yottabytes to come next), it’s an application that handles data in different forms (some of it unstructured raw data, some of it semi-structured and some of it more ordered and cleansed) through what might be a complex pipeline of data analytics touching Machine Learning (ML)-engines and more besides.

A six-legged leap

Building a database capable of withstanding the nuclear meltdown of that kind of experience is tough. Aiming to toughen up its outer shell for the most arduous data environments in the midst of cloud computing migration initiatives this last month of 2022 is Cockroach Labs, the company behind the cloud-native distributed SQL database CockroachDB.

Having now announced CockroachDB 22.2, the company says it has designed its software to deliver new functionality aimed at increasing developer and operator efficiency while simplifying the architecture of data-intensive applications (there’s your nod to intensity again) and enabling teams to migrate off legacy technology to the cloud.

“By partnering closely with our customers as they build scalable, resilient and low-latency applications, we’ve put together a release that is a leap forward in CockroachDB’s capabilities,” said Nate Stewart, chief product officer at Cockroach Labs. “CockroachDB 22.2 streamlines application development, helps developers quickly troubleshoot performance issues at any scale, and significantly brings down the cost of powering event-driven architectures.”

User-Defined Functions (UDFs)

Key among its most prevalent feature updates in the new product is User-Defined Functions (UDFs), which Cockroach Labs has said is a ‘top requested feature’ from customers. In simple terms, a UDF in any piece of software is (as it sounds) driven by the user’s requirement to gain specific computations or actions that can be stored and called upon more than once (often time and time again) and modified independently of the total system or platform (in this case CockroachDB) that the user works in.


The user-defined element here is intended to improve software application development efficiency, reduce overall application complexity and (perhaps most crucially of all) streamline database migrations.

“Now in preview, UDFs extend CockroachDB’s PostgreSQL [an open source relational database management system] compatibility and will enable more straightforward migrations of legacy workloads with functions to CockroachDB, letting more organizations modernize their applications. CockroachDB’s UDFs also lay the groundwork for a new category of capabilities called CockroachDB Distributed Functions, which will deliver compatibility with PostgreSQL functions while also being specifically architected to support distributed, horizontally scalable applications,” notes Stewart and team, in a press statement.

Cockroach Labs has released several updates that further automate and simplify database operations. These new capabilities let CockroachDB users streamline Application Development and migrate more easily from Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server – the company’s Schema Conversion Tool now supports migration from these databases in addition to PostgreSQL.

It is also able to execute fast text search and fuzzy matches with trigram indexes, a popular Postgres extension and set an expiration timeline for data with Time-to-Live (TTL), a popular feature typically found in NoSQL databases.

The new version can also optimize and troubleshoot workload performance with so-called ‘Intelligent Insights’, a branded new end-to-end monitoring experience that provides actionable fixes from the UI, which developers can apply with a single click in production without downtime.

Maturity metrics

Cockroach Labs suggests that this update signifies ‘notable growth and maturity’ in the company and its platform, an effort it has been driving for the past eight years and now listing customers in the hundreds.

While CockroachDB might be built with a tough enough shell to withstand cloud migrations, the much-unloved cockroach back down on earth lends its name to the company in an attempt to suggest the inherent robustness that the firm has engineered into its product.

Tough enough for cloud migration, yes – but tough enough to withstand a nuclear war (as the popular saying goes) if one were to happen? Not necessarily, [according to Wikipedia] it appears the cockroach can withstand radiation at up to 15 times the level of humans, but for real radiation resistance, we’d need to consider the humble fruit fly.

FruitflyDB, say it now, or buzz off.


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