Enterprises Take Their First Cautious Steps Into Cloud Databases

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DBaaS is the primary vehicle by which databases are becoming part of cloud configurations, said Nayar. “This may take the form of entire database management systems being launched on virtual machines, or database systems being managed by the vendor and the customers paying on the basis of usage,” he explained. “We’re seeing a fair amount of uptake in larger companies in terms of experimentation and usage for non-critical data.” However, he added, “larger enterprises are still reluctant to use these services for mission-critical applications which they still want to manage and control in-house.”

DBaaS provides advantages to IT departments as well. It provides technology leaders and professionals “the opportunity to standardize and optimize on a platform that eliminates the need to deploy, manage, and support dedicated and custom configured database hardware and software for each application,” observed Monica Kumar, senior director, product marketing for Oracle. “DBaaS represents a paradigm shift in IT, from merely responding to existing needs to anticipating future needs.”

DBaaS Wrings Value Out of Existing Corporate Data

While DBaaS is not as well-known as software as a service (SaaS), it nonetheless speaks to an important goal sought by all organizations—“managing and wringing the most value out of existing corporate data,” said Andrew Gilman, vice president of Actifio. “DBaaS unlocks the infrastructure where data lives. It decouples the data from the infrastructure where it lives and controls it from a central repository. Now, the data is accessible to more users, systems, and applications whenever and wherever it is required. This makes data access faster and more democratic across the organization.”

Cloud may even help mitigate acute skill requirements in emerging areas such as NoSQL and Hadoop—“in addition to existing enterprise architecture, data modeling, and relational database management systems,” said Magne. The rise of cloud may help organizations “unshackle IT from solely focusing on lights-on budgets and free up resources to partner more effectively with the business to drive innovation for competitive advantage.”

As a result, end users also are able to provision their own database resources. “IT defines different tiers or classes of database service based on standard templates,” said Kumar. “An online service catalog defines varying sizes, service levels, and appropriate levels of chargeback or billing for each service. Authorized users can select the services they need from this catalog, consume those services for the duration of a project, and then de-provision the services and return the resources to the pool.”

There are also cost advantages to the business, Kumar continued, since a DBaaS approach “helps the business to allocate costs. Users and multiple departments share the hardware and software resources and pay for individual database services via a pay-per-use model. Users only pay for the services they consume, allowing them to be more efficient.”

One of the advantages of the cloud database approach is that it isn’t limited to any particular type of database. While NoSQL databases fit most easily into cloud scenarios, there’s nothing stopping relational databases from also being at the center of cloud configurations, either running in clouds or supporting cloud services, said Prizio.

A Growing Range of Applications Can be Supported in Cloud Environments

There is a growing range of functions and applications that also can be supported in cloud data environments. The most obvious place to start is business intelligence and analytics, said Ankush Singh, data scientist for business intelligence with BlueOcean Market Intelligence. Cloud offers new options to break through the logjams that have hampered BI and analytics in the past. “Many organizations have faced setbacks after investing big money on purchasing the best software and hiring the best IT professionals to set up BI applications,” he said. “Using the cloud for a BI platform not only is going to give you easy access or effectiveness, but it also gives you the option to spend less and get more. Cloud BI is quick as it reduces the BI implementation timeframe.”

These advantages extend to data warehousing and analytics, said Singh. “Cloud can take BI to a whole new level since cloud-based services can not only support massive amounts of data but also provide a consistent solution across enterprises.”

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Posted March 27, 2014