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Database as a Service: New Op on the Cloud Block

- Blog

Tesora's Brian OtisBy Brian Otis

The concept behind delivering databases as service is straightforward: When database capacity can be consumed like a utility – in a pay-for-use model that is not limited by the capabilities of any single database instance – it’s good for business. And, when database capacity is consumed on-demand, it becomes possible to manage multiple instances of different database management systems (DBMSes), both relational and NoSQL, using a common infrastructure while delivering a unified user experience.

The result? It becomes much easier and faster to provision and operate a database, while retaining all its capabilities, in a secure private or public cloud. Routine tasks like clustering, replication, backup and restore are handled in a simple, unified way.

For enterprise customers, DBaaS dramatically improves agility. Gone are the days of requisitioning a database server and waiting (sometimes weeks or months) for it to be provisioned. A fully configured database server could be a few key-clicks away. While the value of quickly provisioning a database is considerable, the fact that an IT team can as easily discard a database and provision a new one is no less significant. It gives dev teams and end users the luxury of experimenting, testing at peak loads, and iterating quickly to arrive at the right long-term solution without compromise.

Given those benefits, it’s not surprising that a just-completed survey by 451 Research reports that 68 percent of enterprises already use databases in the cloud — whether a public cloud platform, private enterprise cloud or some hybrid mix. The survey, sponsored by my company, included more than 200 database managers and IT executives based in North America. About half of respondents represent companies with fewer than 500 full-time employees, with 30 percent from companies with 500 to 1,000 employees and the remaining 20 percent with more than 1,000 employees. Respondents came from a range of industries.

The report finds some adoption of new database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offerings delivered by cloud providers, especially Amazon Web Services, but results indicate that as adoption moves mainstream, incumbent database vendors are likely to maintain their dominance among DBaaS suppliers.

Matt Aslett, research director for data platforms and analytics at 451 Research, explains that those database incumbents – Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP, as well as Teradata in analytic workloads – have dominated the database landscape for decades, and they have the advantages of established trusted supplier relationships, installed workloads and expertise built up over time in customer sites.

However, 451 also notes that when it comes to databases, enterprises are likely to have multiple suppliers for different use cases. That mix will include a wide variety of both SQL and NoSQL database types, along with private and public cloud implementations, so customers are open to experimentation.

Let’s face it though: Organizations of all sizes are going to need help – and lots of it – to decide which databases to deploy where, along with the best way to provision, secure and maintain them. This is a great opportunity for trusted advisers.

Different Types of DBaaS

In public clouds, the database service is typically operated by the infrastructure provider, or by another vendor building on the IaaS platform. Customers select a public cloud provider for their overall infrastructure and then choose from among the database technologies the cloud provider supports.

Some cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), present several options for SQL and NoSQL databases, while others are much more limited. However, those details aside, all of the big public cloud offerings provide the benefits of DBaaS in terms of having a quick and easy way to access database services.

There are also a number of good options in the private cloud to deliver a database service that can match the capabilities of the public cloud.

Trove, the DBaaS project that is part of OpenStack, provides a coherent infrastructure to manage diverse cloud database technologies. Trove enables partners, DBAs and IT professionals to provision and manage a wide variety of relational and nonrelational databases through a single, consistent set of interfaces.

When it comes to support for multiple databases, OpenStack Trove stands out. It provides a framework within which it’s possible to operate many instances of a variety of different SQL and NoSQL database technologies, including Cassandra, CouchBase, DB2, MariaDB, MongoDB, MySQL, Oracle, Percona Server, PostgreSQL and Redis, with several more currently under development. The variety of databases supported by a DBaaS solution in the cloud is an important criteria for partners, because a customer moving to the cloud may be happy with its current set of databases. Ensure a cloud-based DBaaS solution supports the databases a customers currently relies on.

We’ve seen the database landscape change radically in the last few years, with NoSQL and NewSQL options providing new benefits in scalability, availability and flexible data modeling. Clearly, there is a big consulting and services opportunity as enterprises of all sizes migrate those database workloads to the cloud. A DBaaS solution allows customers to choose the right database for their specific use cases from among a menu of services. While MySQL may be the right pick in one case, MongoDB may be a better choice in another. The time is now for partners to ensure they’re positioned to take advantage of the movement of databases to the cloud.

Brian Otis is VP of business development for Tesora. He has more than 20 years of senior-level expertise in technology sales and business development nationally and internationally. Before joining Tesora, Brian held the same position at Optaros, a global digital eCommerce software and service provider.

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