Emerging Trends in Cloud Databases: DBaaS

As I’ve discussed in this column previously, many IT organizations are looking to the cloud to move, create, or extend existing database infrastructure. Perhaps yours is one of them. Yes, the world of the database professional is shifting, this we know. The real questions are how is it shifting, and what can you, as a DBA, do to be successful in this new world?

How is the database world changing because of the cloud?

A couple of important trends are evolving surrounding cloud offerings of database-as-a-service (DBaaS) from Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Let’s take a closer look:

Microsoft Azure SQL Database: Microsoft is claiming that with Azure SQL Database, all you need is a connection string for your application and it will take care of the rest. Full service. Simple. Its DBaaS will scale with your needs and even start to adapt to load patterns. Its database environment will be suited for your specific requirements, whether the intended use is for transactions, big data, analytics, BI, data warehousing, or IoT.

AWS RDS: AWS RDS looks to be pushing database vendor-agnosticism. If you have an application using SQL that was written for, say, PostgreSQL, that’s OK—you’ll be provided with a PostgreSQL-compatible database engine. You don’t have to worry about what database engine is actually running under the hood. This should play perfectly with its fastest-growing and premier RDS database engine, Aurora.

What can you, as a DBA, do to be successful in this new world?

If these emerging trends hold true and continue to evolve, it means many of the tasks DBAs normally perform will go away in a DBaaS environment. Therefore, your value proposition to the company and IT in general must also change. Two areas in which DBAs can always add value are performance tuning and going broader in their skillsets; for example, gaining a better understanding of networking and/or security. The reason these skills are increasing in importance is because DBaaS removes some of the “levers” DBAs can pull versus what can be done when supporting on-premises databases.

When dealing with a performance issue on the database, most DBAs often go back to the same levers, so to speak.

With the reduction of the levers database professionals may have pulled on-premises, developing the skills involved with the remaining levers becomes more vital. Thus, to reiterate, you can bring additional value to your company by expanding your query-tuning and data-modeling skills, as well as by improving your understanding of the network dependencies and security implications of cloud DBaaS.

Broadening your IT knowledge

Deploying database infrastructure in a cloud DBaaS introduces external dependencies that didn’t exist with on-premises deployments. Two of the most critical are network traffic and company data sitting outside your company firewalls. Gaining and/or deepening understanding of these dependencies is becoming increasingly important.

You can also check out any of the many great articles concerning database security on Listen to database management guru and SolarWinds head geek Thomas LaRock’s webinar, "The Accidental Cloud DBA," for greater insight into networking skills for DBAs. And, to improve your performance tuning skills, start by learning exactly what “database performance” means by reviewing Craig S. Mullins’ “Defining Database Performance” on

The world of IT, and especially the database, is rapidly changing. Cloud offerings such as DBaaS can be expected to play a big part in IT strategies moving forward, and vendors are investing large amounts of money and resources to provide offerings lending this statement credibility. Be prepared to embrace the coming changes in the database landscape by broadening your IT knowledge and skillset.