Cloud Databases Shed Operations and Maintenance

Dana MorCloud Express

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Asking any enterprise IT leader about their challenges and satisfaction with their database operations could generate a long litany of complaints big and small. And, while the value of databases is undisputed, the cost of maintaining appropriate service levels for the business, frequent support cases, and even just standard operations weigh heavily on any enterprise.

Cloud databases appear to hold the key to a better future by reducing databases to an API, they let enterprises shed the operations, support, and maintenance burden altogether. Indeed, cloud databases are requiring IT leaders to rethink their database ecosystem and, if approached in the right way, offer fundamental benefits that traditional database environments have never been able to deliver. (Check out an earlier article in this series, titled, Cloud Computing Goes Mainstream – At Last, on why IT is embracing the public cloud now.)

This article discusses the following topics:

  • Cloud databases reduce complex technology to simple-to-use APIs
  • The database market is undergoing a complete re-platforming
  • Databases are a critical element in defining an enterprise’s cloud strategy

Cloud Databases: All the Benefits, None of the Hassles

Cloud databases are redefining database technology – needing only a query interface and data import and export capabilities. Tasks typically associated with operating databases, such as backup and restore, storage administration, and a variety of activities needed to keep on the lights 24×7 are now wrapped in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or more specifically Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) offerings. The database can now be taken care of as part of a fully managed service and is no longer the enterprise problem. Not only does this relieve enterprises from having to handle some of the most notorious database chores, but it reduces database operations to a minimum, driving down CAPEX and OPEX to the great benefit of the enterprise.

Own the Database, Own the Business Click To Tweet

Effectively, enterprises are trading ownership of a highly complex hardware and software stack for the simplicity and convenience of a powerful API. This is a daunting proposition for enterprises and vendors alike, and a true quantum leap for the industry. The shift from owning technology to just using APIs on demand is almost like giving up car ownership for a car sharing service where maintenance, insurance, and even the fuel for the vehicle is included with the plan, all while enjoying extreme flexibility and convenience at low hourly rates. Using APIs on demand may appear to be an unusual idea at first, but only until the overwhelming benefits become clear. Another interesting advantage of using cloud databases is not needing database performance tuning and query optimization (link to an article in the Cloud Express series).

Cloud Technology Upending the Database Market

The cloud database market is evolving rapidly and the main reason is that all the major Cloud Service Providers (CSPs)—Microsoft, Amazon, and Google—have been making substantial investments in database research and have built out sizeable development teams for their cloud data products in recent years. Smaller outfits have entered the race too, for example, Snowflake Computing and XtremeData among others.

The Datometry value proposition argues that an increasingly richer cloud services environment calls for a strong virtualization and abstraction of database APIs to enable applications—existing or new—to interoperate with different databases.

It is important to note that the traditional database market is dominated by a handful of vendors and every one of their respective products have been on the market for decades. What this means is that the current disruption of the traditional database industry is happening in a highly mature industry and, as such, the bar for the disrupters is high. But, the prize is clearly worth the effort: within the next decade, the entire database market is expected to be completely re-platformed to the cloud. That is, a USD 40 Billion IT market segment is up for grabs offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for vendors to acquire market share that has previously been locked down by competitors for decades.

For enterprises, this is an important and extremely favorable trend that ensures vendor commitment with highly competitive product development and pricing strategies. This also means that product deficiencies—in particular, performance and scalability—are top priorities for vendors.

Own the Database, Own the Business

For CSPs, the stakes are even higher: the decision of which cloud database to adopt automatically anchors an enterprise with a specific CSP. Unlike compute or storage that can be abstracted well through various Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) mechanisms and are, therefore, easy to move between clouds, databases impose high switching cost and quickly become the center of gravity in any cloud strategy. This means acquiring customers early on in their journey to the cloud is paramount for CSPs.

The Datometry value proposition argues that an increasingly richer cloud services environment calls for a strong virtualization and abstraction of database APIs to enable applications—existing or new—to interoperate with different databases.

In this new paradigm of cloud shift, enterprises and IT leaders are now more than just stewards of the database infrastructure as they set direction and agenda for a critically important agenda of the business: control of data, their most valuable asset. And, cloud databases are developing into the most important investment any enterprise will make within the next few years.