Cloud Databases Rise to Meet the Needs of a More Agile and Data-Driven Enterprise

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These are challenging, yet interesting, times for enterprise data managers and professionals. Their organizations are pressing harder for the ability to compete on analytics, and all eyes have been on the  data environment as the source of insights and clarity, not to mention peeks into the  future.

However, these capabilities do not magically appear out of a box. Providing analytics on a real-time or near-real-time streaming basis requires highly scalable, resilient and cost-effective systems that will support unpredictably sized data loads. These challenges are not lost on data managers and IT leaders—a recent study from Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., finds analyzing more and different kinds of data, while reducing information infrastructure costs is top of mind for data managers.  (“Achieving Enterprise Data Performance: 2013 Database Growth Survey,” July 2013)

According to another Unisphere Research study, a majority of respondents felt their existing IT infrastructures were incapable of supporting the influx of new data from a mind-boggling array of sources, combined with increasing user demands. Organizations are being overwhelmed by data, rather than being able to transform these resources into information that will help decision makers better understand and advance in their markets.

Cloud platforms offer the scalability, flexibility, and on-demand ability to handle workload spikes.

Cloud computing offers an avenue to potentially overcome these challenges. As the deployment of big data analytics becomes part of a business’ “must-do” list, cloud platforms offer the scalability, flexibility, and on-demand ability to handle workload spikes that are hard to come by with on-premises systems. But, as is the case with every system and data environment, it takes careful planning to achieve the desired business value—which is to enable unprecedented opportunities to better understand and engage with key customer segments and markets. Database cloud capabilities—often expressed as “Data as a Service” or “Database as a Service”—arise in several different forms, depending on the needs and configurations of organizations:

Databases in the cloud:

These databases are accessed online on a subscription basis by enterprise users. The databases may be hosted by a database vendor, or they can be deployed as instances on Infrastructure as a Service sites such as Amazon Web Services or RackSpace Hosting. These databases are typically accessible via REST-based APIs which are simple to design and run, and will also support full application sets.

Hybrid cloud databases:

Hybrid database instances, which allow for greater security than through public cloud services, are private databases that are run for the enterprise by a cloud or managed hosting provider. These databases also can be transferred to on-premises systems as well, depending on where and how they are needed.

Cloud-friendly databases:

Within the enterprise walls, there are cloud-friendly databases or data environments that can be run by the enterprise and offered as a service through private clouds. Typically, cloud-friendly databases are classified as NoSQL databases, and can run on commodity hardware, and thus easily scale out as demands increase. In addition, the latest releases of leading relational database management systems vendors now include capabilities to consolidate data workloads into the single management environment needed to support private cloud.

For more articles on the rise of cloud databases, download the DBTA's March 2014 thought leadership section.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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