Enterprises Take Their First Cautious Steps Into Cloud Databases

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With data increasingly being generated in the cloud and housed there as well, the next step for the data lifecycle is to be able to analyze it there, said Patel. “This new data, rich with customer interactions and transactions, offers tremendous opportunities for insights. ‘What if’ questions are taking on a whole new dimension, since data can be cross-referenced from literally dozens of sources to provide insights never before possible.”

Another potential breakthrough area for cloud is development and testing, said Joe Pasqua, senior vice president of product strategy for MarkLogic. He noted that the rise of cloud databases is similar to “the pattern we saw with the adoption of virtualization technology—first it is dev and test, later production.” Web applications tend to be the earliest adopters of cloud databases in the production arena, he added.

The mobile applications arena is another area that may flourish as cloud databases develop. Mike Miller, co-founder and chief scientist for Cloudant, pointed out that he is seeing a “continued emphasis on mobile applications, which almost always necessitate using the cloud to transfer data.” While mobile networks may be reliable, “writing data locally to devices first, then syncing and replicating that data to a cloud database whenever reliable connectivity is present, is a more logical and robust architecture,” he added.

Cloud Databases Can Pose Integration Challenges

Ultimately, as cloud databases dig deeper into the enterprise—especially as they support operational ERP and CRM—enterprises will encounter integration issues. As was the case when on-premises databases and applications began their expansion 2 decades ago, “there is an almost immediate need to begin to integrate, requiring multiple data sources with multiple configurations to be combined,” said Tony Fisher, vice president data collaboration and integration at Progress Software. “We are seeing the same issues with cloud computing as successful cloud applications need to be combined with other cloud and non-cloud applications. The problems of integration are as complex and varied as the databases being used to store data. While cloud computing has provided a cheaper, easier way to create and run applications and store information, it has also created a new set of integration problems.”

However, even for smaller, entrepreneurial organizations, growth brings increasing complexity—even with cloud. “With the cloud, it’s simpler to get started but more complex when your data volumes grow large,” said Selland. “Managing multiple-terabyte nodes in a cloud environment is significantly more complex, and security and data governance concerns add complexity as well.”

As with on-premises databases, the problem is scaling, said Robin Purohit, CEO of Clustrix. “With new applications being developed for the cloud environment, the data layer for a modern application is becoming increasingly complex with multiple data stores, and, as a result, choosing the correct database requires understanding a market and database landscape that is complex, fragmented, and rapidly available.”

However, any new approach to technology management brings some level of complexity at the onset, said Wojtasiak. “If designed well—with all use cases and parameters taken into consideration— deploying DBaaS can and will make database management much more efficient and, I believe, less complex.”

An Increased Focus on Cloud Choice

Looking ahead, experts expect an increased focus on choice that will support the growth of public cloud adoption over the next 2 years, as businesses look for ways to scale big data analytics and expand their cloud environments.

“Today, the market positions the cloud as a disruptive technology, armed with the capabilities to overtake markets tier by tier,” said McClure. “Soon, many enterprises will start to relieve their private cloud environments of applications, although private cloud growth will continue for the more heavily regulated industries. With the benefits of infrastructure efficiencies and dynamic scaling, pairing cloud adoption with virtualization of mission-critical apps will ensure an enterprise’s data center is a well-oiled machine.” 

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Posted March 27, 2014