By David Moye
Database as a Service (DBaaS) enables you to test drive multiple solutions and only buy the licenses and hardware needed for success. Almost every business these days is data centered. Whether the data is for internal applications and systems or other services offered.
Managing data is a key to success. Before listing the pros and cons of DBaaS, let’s explore a few decisions business have to make.
These include numerous quick decisions about data handling that can set them on a path that, if incorrect, is difficult and costly to correct. Those decisions include, the database type used— SQL or NoSQL; the data storage and query needs—transactional, big data; the database system to use—a few SQL choices might be Oracle, MySQL, MSSQL, and Sybase while No-SQL choices might be MongoDB or Cassandra; do we have database administrator) talent or do we have to hire; what kind of server or resources are needed—what are my power, server, disk, processing, network, and IO requirements; how do I maintain, backup, administer and otherwise own the database framework; and what is my cost of ownership?
First let’s explore which database type to use, SQL or NoSQL.
Traditional database types classified as SQL have a significant place in businesses and are a mainstay for business choices. However, as companies begin creating applications that drive decisions based on significant database analysis of large, almost unfathomable amounts of data, they migrate to NoSQL solutions like MongoDB or Cassandra.
The architecture of NoSQL makes it a good choice for big data solutions while the built-in protections of a transactional based system like Oracle make it a better choice for banking or similar solutions.
When it comes to picking a specific system, businesses tend to stick with what they know. In other words, if they already have Oracle, and Oracle talent, then when management asks those individuals which database system they should use on Project X, it should be no surprise they pick Oracle.
Matching a specific database system to a set of business requirements is an arduous task that should always be looked at with a fresh perspective. It should not just be based on what talent is already employed or what systems a business is comfortable with.
Let’s face it, if a business picks correctly, all is good. If they pick incorrectly, they have wasted a lot of resources which equates to dollars. Enter DBaaS.
DBaaS gives businesses the ability to test the waters a bit.
DBaaS acts as a stepping stone to total ownership, a cost-effective solution to help you figure out your needs prior to investing heavily.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Like any technology, DBaaS has both pros and cons.
First, it is necessary to distinguish between hosting database systems and DBaaS.
Many cloud based solutions host a database system but provide no significant help in configuration, tuning, consulting, and providing the talent needed to actually use those systems.
True DBaaS provides both the system and the talent to help you utilize the database and determine how to store, query, and analyze your data. The value of DBaaS goes beyond the hosting.
The pros of DBaaS include no equipment or software licenses, flexibility, fewer staffing requirements, offsite hosting, and SLA agreements that have redundancy, uptime, and backup protections. A DBaaS provider has intent focus on protecting data.
The cons of DBaaS include a limited access to underlying servers, which can present itself as a feeling of no control; and very little knowledge of how your data is protected from cyber security threats. This can be dangerous for sensitive data.
So how to you decide? Is there a transition from one to the other? Yes, almost always, but by following a few guidelines to start with, DBaaS can be used properly.
Those who wish to use DBaaS should adhere a set of guidelines, like perform all development using DBaaS. This is your chance to test drive different architectures and features.
Additionally, unless you have full disclosure of how your data is protected, managed, and secured by DBaaS providers, it is suggested to consult with database architects to host sensitive data internally. Note, this is typically not big data. When we use the terms sensitive data, we mean just that. Data like SSNs, account details, financials, personal data, etc. Does this mean that you cannot use DBaaS for this? No, it means that you first have to find a DBaaS provider that will show you everything from how your encrypted data gets in their system to storage, access, etc.
When you are not sure of what your database needs really are, use DBaaS first. This lets you try SQL or NoSQL and explore the encryption capabilities of Oracle versus MySQL. Think of DBaaS like buying a car. You test drive sedans, trucks, and SUVs, and try different manufacturers and features. You may decide to lease or buy.
Always monitor and evaluate the cost of ownership. As your system grows, the operating costs might make sense to drop DBaaS and build an inhouse system. By then, however you have already decided on what you really need.
The goal with DBaaS is to test drive multiple solutions and only buy the licenses and hardware you need to be successful. You can then hire the correct talent to manage your system.
David Moye is a principal with Forensic IT, a firm providing big data solutions to companies nationwide. He helped found Forensic IT in 2003 and has some 25 plus years of experience as a software engineer and solution architect. Along with at least a half a dozen core programming languages, he is a certified DBA in Oracle and Sybase and has spent years working with MS-SQL and MySql.
May2018, Software Magazine