Database Considerations for a Modern Architecture

Digital transformation. Infrastructure modernization. Global data center demands. All these forces and more are driving enterprises around the world to seek out next generation cloud-based technologies for a wide range of applications—even those most critical to their business.

According to Dave Bartoletti, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, 74% of enterprises describe their strategy today as hybrid or multi-cloud. It is safe to say “cloud” is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity.

In reality, however, migrating to the cloud or any other modern architecture is not as easy as it sounds.  This migration will introduce new challenges, including application-level changes, service level agreements (SLAs), new operational models, and new cost models. These considerations make it more important than ever to simplify migration and reduce risk. The database is arguably the most expensive component of an application service, the most difficult to manage at scale and the most common source of problems and complaints, yet this decision doesn’t garner nearly enough consideration among the myriad of infrastructure choices. Organizations cannot expect to execute on their plans to modernize their business by relying on forty-year-old database technology. 

Traditional relational database systems simply were not built to handle the scalability, performance, and availability requirements needed to compete in today’s digital world—nor can they address the demands of burgeoning container-native, microservice-based environments.Distributed databases were purpose built to address both. Distributed SQL databases ensure database services can be natively distributed across multiple nodes, data centers, and even clouds without the complexity, expense, and additional software that traditional relational databases require. And they come with all the SQL benefits enterprises have come to rely on. Most importantly, a distributed database ensures continuous availability and scales when and where you need it—optimized to your workload, which saves you time and money. This is becoming increasingly important—to both your operational efficiency and your pocketbook—as more and more enterprises rely on modern architectures to keep pace with business demands today.

Wherever you are in your digital transformation journey, I urge you to consider the impact of your database choice on the long-term success of your application. To help in this effort, I’ve outlined below four of what I consider to be the most important considerations for your database as you modernize your infrastructure to propel your business forward.

  1. Reduced Risks—Migrating an existing application to the cloud or re-architecting for microservices is a complex project. Adding to the complexity by switching database models (for example, switching from SQL to NoSQL) increases the risk profile of the migration significantly. Instead, organizations should maintain the existing data model of the application during the migration.
  2. Availability—Downtime can make or break your success. No one can afford failure or outages, so the ability to ensure continuous availability is a lynchpin to success. At its core, a distributed database is built on a peer-to-peer architecture, consisting of peer processes that are independent and able to perform the same tasks. Because of this equality, any peer can fail or shut down at any point without losing the database as a whole—there is no single point of failure. As a result, organizations don’t require extra hardware or software that’s designed to kick in only when disaster strikes. Instead, a distributed database maximizes hardware utilization, automates redundancy, and reduces disaster recovery overhead, saving you time and money. Most importantly, with better availability, you ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction—the hallmark of a successful business.
  3. Scalability—Today’s consumers wait for no one and loyalty wanes depending on responsiveness. Historically, the database has been the least scalable component in application architectures and requires over-provisioning or time-consuming server migration procedures that no nimble organization can afford any longer. Purpose-built for modern architectures including cloud, containers, and microservices, a distributed database easily scales out and back based on demand. This alleviates your development team from having to code for data management, sharding, or replication strategies, It also frees development time to focus on building new applications for your customers to love. The ability to scale out to meet application volume ensures your database won’t hold you back from delivering unmatched performance or innovation. Lastly, leveraging existing hardware to add capacity when you need it will decrease total costs.
  4. Cloud Portability—Cloud providers will continue to compete with services and cost. Your cloud provider of choice today should not prevent you from switching to a different cloud in the future. Or for certain industries, availability requirements prevent single-cloud strategies. In these cases, the database of choice must be available in all cloud providers.

Migrating to a modern architecture—whether it is the cloud, containers, microservices, or whichever hybrid combination that works best for your organization—is critical to long term success in business today.  And while it is easy to get caught up in these new infrastructure choices, it’s more important than ever to keep your database decision at the forefront.  Understanding the impact of your database choice as you execute digital transformation initiatives and thoughtfully implementing the right database for your business puts you in a better position to ensure sustainable growth, maximize your modernization investments, and retain and gain customers.