Data Assets Now in the Cloud

Increasingly, cloud services are seen as a vital resource in the data manager’s toolkit. There’s good reason why cloud is a preferred option: There are simply not enough on-premise resources to keep up with the growth of data management requirements. Organizations keep evolving, business priorities keep shifting, data compliance requirements keep expanding, and user demands keep growing. Already, one-fourth of corporate data is being maintained by cloud providers, and data managers intend to move as much of their data environments into the cloud as soon as they can. 

These are some of the findings of a new survey of 202 data managers and professionals, conducted among members of the Independent Oracle Users Group. The survey, fielded by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., in partnership with Amazon Web Services, covered a broad sample of company types and sizes (“2019 IOUG Databases in the Cloud Survey”).

While database systems have been part of corporate data centers for decades, and substantial infrastructures have been built around them to ensure their security, resilience, and ability to support mission-critical applications, much of the technology required to keep delivering business value is available in the cloud.

Data in the cloud is still a DBA’s responsibility, suggesting that cloud-based systems are not going to replace DBA roles anytime soon. In terms of lines of responsibility, DBAs are most likely to be put in charge of public cloud database projects, as cited by 42% of survey respondents. IT operations teams and outside service providers each took the lead at 18% of enterprises. When it comes to mature cloud data sites, DBAs tend to assume a greater role, the survey shows. Among high cloud adopters in the survey, 53% said their DBAs are in charge, while low cloud adopters tend to divide cloud management between their service providers and DBAs.

In the survey, respondents were asked about their most recent database project—whether it was an upgrade, migration, or addition of new functionality—and whether it was in the cloud or on-premise. They were then asked about their most recent cloud-based database project. In some cases, these were one in the same.

The survey shows that, on average, one in every four bytes of enterprise data is now managed by public cloud providers. This will increase, but hybrid cloud is the model for most.

Where is your organization’s data located and managed?
(Average percentage of respondents’ total data stores)

On-premise systems: 71%

In public clouds: 25%

Other: 4%

There’s an overriding reason why data managers are moving many of their assets to the cloud: It can expand as their data stores and access requirements grow. Scalability is the most oft-cited benefit seen in the cloud, the survey shows.

While reduced costs were often the driving force for cloud implementations in the early days, leaders and professionals are now even more likely to see cloud as a way to quickly scale and support their growing application environments and datasets. A majority of data managers that have migrated to cloud, 54%, said they are seeing greater scalability. Cost and lowered administration also factor in as important benefits: 44% of cloud implementers say they have achieved lower costs, while 43% are seeing a reduced need for infrastructure maintenance as a result of contracting with cloud services.

Even for organizations that currently have mainly on-premise databases, hybrid arrangements are viewed as options going forward as they seek to combine the best of what the public cloud has to offer with existing on-premise assets.

For their latest database projects, organizations are close to evenly split between deploying in the cloud or on-premise, with a tilt toward on-premise. A total of 44% deployed their projects in the public cloud or as part of a hybrid architecture split between cloud and on-premise, while 52% indicated their most recent database project involved an on-premise implementation. When it came to cloud, 14% opted to host their entire database in the cloud, while 12% turned to cloud SaaS offerings that include back-end data functionality.

Figure 2: What was the location of your most recent implementation?

On-premise: 52%

As a hybrid architecture supporting both on-premise and cloud-based functions: 18%

In the public cloud as a hosted database:14%

In the public cloud as a hosted database associated with a SaaS application:12%

Other: 4%

Cloud-based data functions are no longer at the periphery of enterprises—many are now supporting core enterprise applications. While cloud implementations in the early days were typically for edge-of-enterprise functions—such as organizing sales communications—cloud is now moving closer to the core of enterprises. A large segment of public cloud data projects, 41%, went to directly supporting production applications. Interestingly, for 27% of the group, this was their very first public cloud deployment for a database function. The largest segment, 44%, reported this is among their first five or six cloud-focused projects.