All about DBaaS

Published on the 15/03/2019 | Written by Pat Pilcher

The sky’s the limit when it comes to cloud database solutions…

Demand for cloud database solutions is projected to grow as the increasingly data-centric nature of business makes traditional on-premise databases and their management a costly undertaking for many enterprises.

The arguments for cloud database or database-as-a-service (DBaaS) are many, but most boil down to the usual cloud app arguments of flexibility and the fact that the on-demand nature of the cloud can free organisations to focus on their core business while a service provider manages the underlying infrastructure. In short, providing easy access to databases with minimal administration costs is pushing many organisations to move increasingly sizeable on-premise database workloads into the cloud.

According to Orbis Research, demand is growing strongly for DBaaS offerings. Orbis says the emerging cloud database and DBaaS industry had been relatively flat at around 14 percent growth up to 2017. 2018 saw rapid growth in the technology and Orbis is now forecasting that over the next five years, demand for cloud database services will see the DBaaS market surge, with a CAGR over 59 percent.

Two key factors are driving DBaaS growth: Ease of deployment and scalability.

Orbis and most other market analysts tend to agree that two key factors are driving DBaaS growth. These are ease of deployment and scalability. While the debate around DBaaS market inhibitors is robust, the prevailing consensus is that both disaster recovery and security are the key market inhibitor issues for DBaaS.

While medium and small enterprises have been quick to embrace DBaaS, the rapid recent growth is being driven by the large enterprise segment. The fastest growing region for DBaaS has been the Asia Pacific.

Businesses already awash with data are best placed to realise the benefits of DBaaS, but DBaaS isn’t just benefitting enterprises wanting to contain costs. Medium to small business can also realise significant benefits from lower entry barriers and access to technologies that were previously only within reach of their enterprise counterparts. For companies looking to get into the Internet of Things (IoT), data streaming and machine learning (ML), DBaaS offers compelling reasons to leap.

It isn’t all roses though and there are just as many cons as there are pros with DBaaS. Those negatives can include the general rigidity of databases, integration inflexibilities, networking issues and the complexity that comes with managing large data transfers which, let’s face it, are a white-knuckle moment for most CIOs. Because of these and related issues, multi-site data migration requires security precautions.

Further adding to existing complexities is choosing from the many service providers. These range from cloud database specialists, with solutions which have been built for cloud, through to those which are architecturally more akin to remote hosting of your standard on-premise database server. Finding which is the best fit requires navigating and weighing up a long list of variables ranging from price, geography, support/SLA’s and database specs.

US-based Snowflake is arguably the most advanced in ‘pure-play’ DBaaS. The company has built cloud database technology wrapped with data warehouse tooling as a service offering. It saw that conventional data warehouses were struggling to keep up with the exploding demand for data-driven insight within businesses, and were often complex, costly and lacking in flexibility. While there were other ‘big data’ platforms, most lacked flexibility, and many were often toolkits rather than a complete solution. At a practical level, this meant that they required a significant investment in resources to build and maintain. Taking all this into account, Snowflake built a new SQL data warehouse designed to be legacy free and to deliver greater flexibility in a full cloud setting.

Developed as a cloud-based service from the ground up, Snowflake has focused on a platform designed so people could concentrate on deriving insight from data instead of configuring, tuning, and tweaking a data warehouse.

Another fast-moving player in the DBaaS market is MongoDB. It was developed as a low-cost database platform designed with open source software developers in mind instead of database architects.

What makes MongoDB unique is that it provides more flexibility and agility in software development. Traditional databases require users to design a schema in advance. Any changes to that can be challenging to implement. MongoDB allows users to add different data fields relatively easily even after the fact, as it is an unstructured database. Most important of all, MongoDB’s unstructured design lessens the need for costly database administrators. MongoDB products include cloud offerings such as MongoDB Atlas and their serverless platform MongoDB Stitch, both of which has seen MongoDB develop a presence in the DBaaS market.

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