Subscription-based pricing makes it easier for organizations to control their costs and what they’re paying for. Running databases both on premises and in a public cloud is increasingly becoming the answer to many of the headaches that database administrators and developers alike run into when working on their organization’s databases. Most organizations originally favored private clouds, allowing their staff members to spin up private instances whenever needed, but public cloud providers and cloud database vendors now offer serious alternatives that make a good case for DBaaS.
A Case for Running Your Database in the Cloud
While most organizations were fine running operations on separate instances of their private cloud, we’re seeing an increasing number of businesses opting for DBaaS, running their databases in the cloud to save time, resources, and money.
Most cloud database vendors have now moved from the model of on-premise licensing costs and replaced it with subscription-based pricing. Not only does this make it easier for organizations to control their costs and what they’re paying for, but the tailored subscriptions also ensure that they only pay for what they use.
Additionally, moving to a public cloud entirely removes the cost of purchasing, hosting, and maintaining onsite hardware in a private cloud environment. From the cost of hardware to floor space, as well as air conditioning, and electricity, many organizations find that the savings are worth trusting a public cloud with their database. Moreover, cloud databases also enable organizations to reallocate their IT team’s time to tasks that more directly benefit the business such as maintaining and updating the servers.
What Can I Do With My Cloud Database?
Beyond the savings that can be achieved by running a database in the cloud, there are also a number of use cases that can effectively leverage DBaaS to simplify many of the daily activities that DBAs and developers are tasked with, from disaster recovery and application development to real-time reporting.
Many organizations and businesses have local disaster recovery plans in place. Their databases are backed up on a regular basis, and those backups are archived off into the same data center. These organizations can then decide to save those backups outside of the data center to keep them safe, but it makes it more difficult to recover them when needed, and a fast, seamless recovery is out of the question.
Through a secure cloud connection, it is possible to leverage DBaaS by using the cloud as a disaster recovery site by replicating the entire on-premise database to the cloud and keeping it synchronized transactionally. Whenever a change is made to the database on premises, it is possible to synchronize the transaction to the cloud over the secure connection. The database in the cloud can then be used to securely store backups in inexpensive cloud archive containers. Using this method, the database on premises is now protected from onsite issues and can be recovered much faster than by getting the backup from a physical location.
Application development is one of the most important functions in driving innovation, and many agree that demand for applications will soon outstrip available development capacity. One of the lengthiest processes involved in application development is providing the development team with a full development environment that closely mirrors the actual production environment. On premise, this process alone can sometimes take days, weeks, or even months, all while the development team is sitting idly, waiting to start their work.
Taking advantage of the cloud backups mentioned earlier, it is possible to create a cloud database that the development team can immediately start working on in minutes. Because the cloud database is created from a backup of the on-premise database, the environment is virtually similar to the production environment, enabling the development team to start working right away. Most cloud databases often come with cloning capabilities, allowing you to create copies of your database just like you would on premise but without any hardware resource limitation. Taking advantage of these capabilities, it is possible to give a copy of the development environment to each member of your team and have them work on a cloud-based code repository for continuous, simultaneous integration and agile development.
Patching and Upgrading
Patching and upgrading is another critical element of maintaining a database, but it can sometimes be tricky, as some upgrade processes can prove daunting, and issues or unexpected effects can result from said patches and upgrades. As most organizations cannot afford to encounter errors in production, a cloud environment is the perfect proving ground for your upgrades and patches.
The fast provisioning and quick cloning capabilities of cloud databases make them almost disposable, enabling your team to create and delete them on demand for needs you would otherwise never have the hardware or software licenses to attempt or consider on premises. When the new release of a database comes out, or when a patch needs to be applied, it is possible to bring up a copy of the production environment and perform the upgrade in the cloud to see if any issues were encountered during the process. If the upgrade was unsuccessful, simply bring up another copy and try a different method until it is successful. Once done, the upgraded database files or the entire software stack can be simply moved back to the production environment.
Major new database releases usually come with their fair share of added features and functionalities. Your production environment, however, is the last place in which your team should be trying them out. Not only could it compromise your users’ experience, it might also make changes to your database that would require a recovery and cost your organization time and money.
A cloud database is a great place to troubleshoot any issues that might come with an upgrade, but it is also a perfect testing environment to try out this interesting new compression algorithm or performance-enhancing SQL function, where it is possible to monitor and test on a close copy of your production environment. Working in a setting virtually identical to your production environment enables your team to understand how these new features could be used on premises and allows them to drive innovation with close to no risk.
Database reports are crucial to organizations, enabling them to gather insight for analysis and better decision making. Those reports, however, are generated from back-end queries that consume precious resources needed by the end users. Queries can take minutes or hours and hinder completion of day-to-day tasks that the database needs to fulfill.
Using a replicated database, real-time reporting is another task that can be moved to the cloud. It is possible to create a dedicated reporting database to offload SQL-intensive reporting, where none of the daily users will be affected when requesting resource-consuming, demanding reports. This method enables an organization to continuously capitalize on its data without compromising the end user experience.
Beyond Cost Savings
Beyond the cloud’s innate cost-saving advantages, there are many use cases that effectively leverage cloud databases for greater efficiency and agility. Whether it be hardware constraints, resource shortages, or lack of licenses, a cloud database can get your team up and running quickly and without significant resources. The approach can also move some of the most resource-consuming and risk-heavy tasks off the production environment, ensuring that daily tasks and end users are never compromised by maintenance and back-end activities.
Brian Spendolini is product manager for Oracle Database Cloud Service which is part of the Oracle Cloud Platform.