Evolving Database Management Skills and Best Practices for the Cloud

The traditional practices of database management are being rapidly outgrown by organizations increasing their adoption of cloud services and automation. While these businesses are feverishly reaching for solutions that improve their overall scalability, agility, and reliability, new database types, tools, and best practices are materializing.

To address this new iteration of database management for the cloud era, Julie Hyman, director of product management at Quest and Michael Agarwal, director and global practice leader, cloud databases at Datavail joined DBTA’s webinar Key Database Management Skills and Tools for the Cloud Era, offering skills and strategies to effectively manage, govern, secure, and integrate data across hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Hyman opened with an illuminative quote from Vivek Kundra, the first chief information officer (CIO) of the U.S. government: “My own definition of ‘cloud’ is that it's the future of computing, it's the way you can leverage IT as a utility, like electricity or water.”

Though this idea conjures excitement for an ideal, futuristic era of tech, Hyman pointed to key challenges facing database management that prevent this future from manifesting, including the following:

  • DBAs are overloaded
  • Developers are slowed down
  • More open source tech means more complexity

To adapt to these challenges, many enterprises are looking toward DBaaS (Database-as-a-Service), a cloud computing service model that provides organizations with access to a managed database environment hosted and maintained by a third-party provider. DBaaS is dominating the growth of database management, where, in 2022, 98% of the overall DBMS (database management system) growth came from DBaaS.

While DBaaS offers a variety of unique advantages, such as no hardware costs, on-demand scalability, lower user cost and administrative complexity, fast time-to-market, and more, it also comes with significant roadblocks, including:

  • Incurring large changes to on-prem support procedures and for migration from on-prem databases to DBaaS
  • Depending on vendor for overall system security, availability, recoverability, and performance
  • Low visibility into environment
  • High level of vendor lock-in
  • Rapid escalation of costs

Striking the right balance between control and costs, Hyman explained, is the key to succeeding in database management for the cloud era. They emphasized the following DBA skills as key success drivers:

  • Responsibility for migrating on-prem databases to the cloud and managing DBaaS offerings
  • Implementing automation to streamline database management tasks, such as backups, patching, and monitoring
  • Working closely with developers in a DevOps environment
  • Responsibility for managing data security in a highly complex and dynamic environment

Echoing Hyman, Agarwal explained that database management is undergoing considerable changes in the cloud era, including a need for global scalability, new database engine types, the advent of use case-driven database engines, database application to AI and machine learning (ML), and more.

These changes thoroughly impact DBA responsibilities, nearly shifting entirely to a new realm of duties. While some components of database management remain the same from on-prem to the cloud, such as ETL work, database design and development, and database deployment, most responsibilities are entirely different for the cloud.

Some of these changes are for the better, where the need for capacity planning in the cloud is reduced because it can be easily changed, and virtualization layer problems become very unlikely. But with the cloud comes a lot of questions, Agarwal explained, especially regarding performance, flexibility, and security.

Performance and flexibility generally see a significant boost in the cloud, though adopting cloud native security measures often means the cloud provider takes a larger role in security—though it is always a shared security model.

Ultimately, cloud modernization requires cooperation from a variety of roles—Center of Excellence (CoE) leaders, DevOps, SRE, DBAs, developers, data engineers, and architects—to be achieved successfully. Modernization impacts more than just the database, inducing changes to the way applications, analytics, infrastructure, and security are managed—for which each facet of the enterprise must be prepared.

For an in-depth discussion on database management skills and best practices for the cloud era, you can view an archived version of the webinar here.