SQLShare: Results from a Multi-Year SQL-as-a-Service Experiment

  • Most Reproducible Paper Award
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Data analysts can use SQL to analyze data; if the system supports complex queries.


We analyze the workload from a multi-year deployment of a databaseas-a-service platform targeting scientists and data scientists with minimal database experience. Our hypothesis was that relatively minor changes to the way databases are delivered can increase their use in ad hoc analysis environments. The web-based SQLShare system emphasizes easy dataset-at-a-time ingest, relaxed schemas and schema inference, easy view creation and sharing, and full SQL support. We find that these features have helped attract workloads typically associated with scripts and files rather than relational databases: complex analytics, routine processing pipelines, data publishing, and collaborative analysis. Quantitatively, these workloads are characterized by shorter dataset "lifetimes", higher query complexity, and higher data complexity. We report on usage scenarios that suggest SQL is being used in place of scripts for one-off data analysis and ad hoc data sharing. The workload suggests that a new class of relational systems emphasizing short-term, ad hoc analytics over engineered schemas may improve uptake of database technology in data science contexts. Our contributions include a system design for delivering databases into these contexts, a description of a public research query workload dataset released to advance research in analytic data systems, and an initial analysis of the workload that provides evidence of new use cases under-supported in existing systems.