Zilliz this week made generally available a managed cloud service that can now be spun up in less than five minutes. The service is based on the company’s open source Milvus vector database.
Frank Liu, director of operations for Zilliz, said the managed Zilliz Cloud service running on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud will make vector databases much more accessible to a wider range of application developers.
Vector databases are gaining traction because they provide artificial intelligence (AI) application developers with a more efficient method for managing the unstructured data need to train AI models. Currently, many of those teams are relying on labels and tags to classify and manage data. The Milvus vector database employs deep learning algorithms and its own AI model to create and store, index and manage vectors to more efficiently classify data, said Liu.
Based on a cloud-native architecture that, for example, employs Kubernetes to scale consumption of cloud resources more efficiently, Zilliz Cloud can also scale to process tens of billions of high-dimensional vector data for data-intensive applications, he added. The company claims Zilliz Cloud delivers up to 10 times greater throughput and five times lower latency for read and write operations for data-intensive workloads.
Other attributes of the managed Zilliz Cloud include support for multi-language software development kits (SDKs), a web-based graphical user interface to search and explore data, SOC 2 compliance, network isolation using IP whitelists and full data encryption in transit (TLS).
In the future, Zilliz also plans to add support for Microsoft Azure Cloud and Google Cloud Platform in addition to graphical processor units (GPUs) to optimize the performance of its deep learning algorithms.
Potential use cases for a vector database span everything from image retrieval and video analysis to fraud detection to drug discovery. Organizations that already use Milvus, which is being advanced under the auspices of the LF AI & Data Foundation, include eBay, Shopee and SmartNews.
In general, the rise of data-intensive workloads is driving more organizations to embrace DataOps best practices to optimize the management of massive amounts of data. Organizations that build AI models are typically at the forefront of those efforts given the massive amounts of data typically required to train AI models. The challenge organizations have historically faced is not many have the internal expertise required to manage a vector database. The Zilliz Cloud eliminates the requirement by relying on the expertise of a team of database administrators trained by Zilliz to operate a managed service.
It’s not clear at what rate organizations are embracing vector databases to build AI models. As the next era of applications are constructed, it’s only a matter of time before the machine learning operations (MLOps) practices used to build AI models converge with DevOps practices used to build the applications in which those models will be embedded. The challenge is the data science teams that build AI models tend to also have a distinct DataOps culture all their own; DevOps teams will need to find a way to embrace and extend that.
In the meantime, the number of types of databases being used to build applications will only continue to expand so it will be up to each DevOps team to know when to manage each one themselves versus relying on a managed service.