Classic DBAs Evolve to Cloud DBAs

Today we live in the age of the “cloudification of information.” This massive cloudification of data is straining the already-stretched-thin in-house database administrator (DBA), who historically has been the custodian of a company’s data stored within its traditional databases. Now the data stored within those databases is being comingled with data from outside data sources, much of it from the cloud. Every company’s goal is to gain better insight into its customers’ tendencies, prospects’ interests, and competitors’ vulnerabilities.

DBAs are expected to find ways to overcome obstacles as their organizations try to ingest and comingle all this data from the cloud. As a result, many companies are transforming themselves from companies that ingest data from the cloud to companies that live and breathe in the cloud, further helping to fuel the cloudification of data.

In many ways this eliminates the need for a company to set up and maintain its own infrastructure. All of a company’s datasets may live in a cloud; some are still isolated and therefore private, but many are public. But living in a world in which all of a company’s databases and infrastructure reside in the cloud creates new challenges for the DBA to overcome and is transforming these DBAs out of necessity into cloud DBAs.

In May of 2012, Database Trends and Applications published our article “Last New Horizon—The Dataverse” ( In that article, we discussed the evolution of data and data models, how the DBA of the future would have to be the custodian of both structured and unstructured data, and that the DBA becoming the custodian of the “dataverse” was just a matter of time. The cloudification of data has made the dataverse we described in that article a reality for the world that DBAs now live in.

Living in the dataverse, these cloud DBAs will continue to evolve into cloud data managers as organizations move their infrastructure and respective data into the cloud and comingle internal data with outside data sources to help them gain better insight into their customers, prospects, and competitors. These cloud data managers will live in the dataverse. They will be fluent in both structured and unstructured data. They will understand how to maintain a cloud-based infrastructure to meet the demands of the business. They will understand the mobility of data and how to enable the business to efficiently tap into this data.

The cloudification of data has made the dataverse we envisioned a few years ago a reality. Historically, the leading edge of private clouds has been quality of service, and the edge of services from public cloud providers—such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and VMware vCloudAir—has been reduced price through the economies of scale advantages they enjoy. Early adopters of public cloud architectures had the potential to save money but also had limited choices and had to tolerate living through the growing pains of these public cloud offerings as they matured.

What the evolution of outsourcing of data and infrastructure has proved over time is that these service providers are able to greatly improve the quality of the service while still maintaining a price advantage. In addition, offshore development has matured and offers some price advantages with adequate quality. Today’s public cloud offerings are very quickly closing the quality gap to private clouds, and that trend will continue.

This trend is forcing private cloud companies to look for ways to differentiate themselves from public cloud companies. They are doing this by offering a wider variety of services and choices and by becoming more vertically focused.

An analogy might be the difference between an industrial-produced beer and a fine microbrew. Budweiser is great beer. But what the microbrew offers is something a little different, something more unique and geared to individual tastes. In many ways, this is how the private clouds will evolve and maintain their compelling proposition. They will offer a superior product, but they will also offer a great deal of customization that may meet an individual customer’s taste. Better choices and a large services menu to choose from, combined with an understanding of a particular industry, and the ability to tailor services to a customer’s unique needs will create that compelling proposition. Private cloud offerings will incorporate public clouds into their offerings, giving the customer the proverbial “one throat to choke” and the best of both the private and public cloud worlds.

Microsoft—with its DNA of being partner-friendly—is quickly finding ways to help companies extend its private cloud offerings with a Microsoft Azure public cloud component. In the future, look for many other public clouds to develop approaches to help private cloud companies include their public cloud offerings within their suites.

This cloudification of data is already having a profound impact on every aspect of our lives. It has changed how we interact socially with each other forever, and it has forced us to adopt new paradigms in the way we look at data, manage data, and access data. Only the future knows what other changes are on the horizon as both people and technology continue to evolve in this new dataverse.

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