Neo4j unveils its first as-a-service graph database

The graph database specialist has released the first fully managed version of its core product to ease adoption of the technology

neo4j wilbur ross jr. to anthony grant blumberg

The graph database specialise Neo4j has released the first as-a-service version of its core graph database, allowing smaller customers to quickly get up and running with the technology and start investigating popular graph use cases like personalised recommendations or fraud detection, without making the sort of investments required for the enterprise version.

In short, Aura is designed to look and behave just like the enterprise version of Neo4j but with all of the operational tasks managed by the vendor.

A graph database is a flavour of NoSQL database built upon graph theory, an academic computer science methodology which plots data points, known as objects or nodes, and the connections between them on a 'graph'. So, where a traditional, relational database stores data in rows and columns, a NoSQL database stores large sets of unstructured data.

A graph database goes a step further by including the connections between those data points, essentially building up a network of data. This has proved valuable for use cases where the relationships between data points are important, like building personalised recommendation engines or detecting fraud. Facebook is itself essentially built on a massive graph database.

Speaking to Computerworld about the launch, Neo4j cofounder and CEO, Emil Eifrem, said: "What Aura represents is the ability to make that amazing power – the magic that made Google essentially – and encapsulated it in a package and make it available to everyone else in the market, so we are democratising access to that [graph] technology so you don't have to manage the database and [can] focus on building your application."

Aura is very clearly aimed at the smaller end of the market, where developers may not have the budget or manpower to procure and run the enterprise version of the database. "Neo4j Aura bridges that gap for individuals, small teams and established startups," Eifrem wrote in a blog post.

Eifrem says the company has been working on Aura since 2017 when it set up a dedicated team to build the product. So, what took them so long to release it?

"We have been in production with customers for over a year now and also that is testament to how we build things," Eifrem explained. "We take data extremely seriously and wanted to ensure those data durability guarantees were there, that was a huge part, as well as always-on availability."

Neo4j ambitiously guarantees zero downtime on its website for Aura. It has also been built natively on Kubernetes, meaning it is scalable and flexible across all of the major public clouds.

Aura isn't the first graph database-as-a-service on the market – Amazon Neptune and TigerGraph have graph DBaaS offerings – but Eifrem naturally says it is the best.

"The second piece is we have not just taken Neo4j and thrown it into the cloud as early as possible, we have taken our time and built it carefully in a very robust way. We have been extremely focused on always-on and self healing for guaranteed uptime and unrivalled reliability," he added.

To get started, customers need to sign up by at, select a hosting region and database size, provide credit card details and agree to the terms and conditions of the service. There is also a browser-based sandbox version for customers to play with, which includes templates for popular use cases and pre-populated datasets, complete with tutorials.

Aura is generally available today and is priced according to a flat hourly rate based on capacity, starting from $0.09 per hour.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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